The current Notre Dame discussion seems to revolve around Jack Coan for the short term and freshman Tyler Buchner for the future. Often overlooked, and by some simply dismissed, is Drew Pyne. Ignore him at your own peril, and the rising sophomore is going to make not playing him very difficult.
2 com., 3 att., 66.7%, 12 yards / 4 rushing yards
Pyne began his Notre Dame career as the third-string quarterback but he quickly pushed Brendon Clark, who was a year ahead of him in the system. Team sources indicated to Irish Breakdown very early on that Pyne impressed teammates with his ability to quickly pick up the system.
Even before Clark’s injuries set in the true freshman Pyne was pushing him for playing time. He played in just four games and threw just three passes, but even in limited time Pyne showed impressive poise and calm running the offense.
Coming into the spring the Irish coaches talked about the position being open, but Coan was and is expected to be the starter. Pyne, however, has thrown a bit of a wrench into that after putting together a strong spring performance. What Pyne lacks in size, experience and athleticism he makes up for in a high football IQ, a great feel for the game, a lightning quick release, impressive accuracy for his size and enough arm strength to execute the offense at a high level.
What we saw in the Blue-Gold Game is that his lack of experience is something he must overcome in the fall. Pyne made great decisions early, including an impressive fourth-down conversion against the blitz. His timing wasn’t as good as the pressure continued to get to him and he rushed him mechanics at times. That’s to be expected considering how young he is and how little he played.
That experience should prove beneficial to Pyne, and it puts him in position to make another charge at the starting position in fall camp. The sophomore must prove he’s capable of better sustaining that kind of pressure, beginning first with better manipulating the pocket better with his feet. He must also show the ability to do some damage with his legs, even if it’s just moving the chains or being able to pull the ball and get outside if teams are over-playing the run game a bit better.
Coan will be hard to be beat out due to his own talent plus his experience, but if Coan has any slippage, or if he gets injured, Pyne will be right there ready to take over. I know he doesn’t blow anyone away with God-given physical tools, but this young man knows how to play the position and he has a presence to him.
Pyne either beats out Coan, or gets his opportunity to start due to a Coan injury, and he thrives. That would be due to Pyne using his accuracy, intelligence and moxie to be a playmaker. It would mean Pyne is running the offense efficiently, getting the ball out to his playmakers and making as many plays with his mind as he does with his arm.
Pyne is a steady backup that is able to move the offense effectively if his number is called due to Coan being out, but he’s never able to beat out the talented veteran.
1. How much of a jump will Pyne make in the fall after getting so many reps in the spring?
2. Can Pyne continue making physical jumps and getting a bit more juice on his fastball and distance on his long ball?
3. If one and two happen, can Pyne legitimate push Coan to the point where either A) he beats Coan out or B) he pushed Coan so hard that it ensures Coan plays at a very high level. That is a unique way to look at this, and it’s a way that Pyne could have an impact on the team even without playing much.
4. Can he hold off Tyler Buchner for the backup job?
With each player profile we'll make a bold prediction that is geared towards addressing what the player's ceiling would look like given the right opportunity. Every bold prediction will be positive, so clearly not all can or will happen, but they are a fun exercise. Here is the bold prediction for Pyne:
For whatever reason, Pyne steps into the starting lineup, completes almost 70% of his throws and the Irish pass game explodes due to his accuracy and ability to get the ball out quickly to playmakers. When the season ends the Notre Dame coaches are in a very, very unique situation in regards to how to handle the brilliance of Pyne and the potential of Buchner.
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