It’s a strange formula for Notre Dame, but it’s worked so far.
Watch Jack Coan sputter for the start of the game, then bring in another quarterback — this time it was Tyler Buchner. Buchner gives them a spark, leading them to a pair of touchdowns but he also struggles, throwing two interceptions.
Then Buchner gets hurt.
Coan returns and leads the Irish to two scorings drives in the final 3:43 to give Notre Dame a 32-29 victory on Saturday against Virginia Tech. Sound familiar? It's eerily similar to what happened late in the also 32-29 victory over Toledo.
An emotional Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said after the game that this team is unflappable.
Virginia Tech took a 29-21 after Braxton Burmeister scored on a 19-yard touchdown run with 3:55 left.
Coan, who replaced Buchner, led the Irish (5-1) on a five-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a six-yard touchdown pass to Avery Davis. Notre Dame tied it when Coan floated one up to Kevin Austin for the 2-point conversion.
Coan and place kicker Jonathan Doerer finished the game on the next drive. Coan took them 45 yards in four plays. That set up a 48-yard field goal for Doerer.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever coached a group of guys that have had such resolve and mental toughness,” Kelly said. “That regardless of the situation, they just kept playing. They were unfazed by the circumstances. In particular, you take Jack Coan out of the game and he’s the first one to pick Tyler Buchner up on the field when he’s hurt. And he’s prepared himself mentally to go back in the game and lead two drives.
"You guys should be thinking about writing great things to write about that guy because that doesn’t happen very often," continued Kelly. "You’ll find negative things to write about this game. That’s why I really don’t care. Because as a coach what I take from these games is watching a guy like Jack Coan come in and play under those circumstances. To me, it was incredibly enjoyable. To watch Logan Diggs have to come in because Chris Tyree couldn’t answer the bell because of turf toe. Just so many stories about players persevering.”
Kelly said he’s not sure why Coan gets off to slow starts. Coan finished 9 of 12 for 108 yards passing with one TD.
“You know, it’s a combination of things start to slow down a little bit. Guys get a little bit tired," Kelly noted. "He sees the game a little differently and he settles down a little bit. You still have to make those throws. You still have to be decisive. You watched what I watched. He was decisive. The ball came out of his hands, the reads were correct. It looked like it was shooting fish in a barrel with the timeliness of the ball coming out of his hand to where it was earlier.”
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