On Notre Dame’s unusual quarterback situation, the offensive line, the rest of the schedule and Jonathan Doerer
1, I started to write that there should be no quarterback controversy anymore. That the Tyler Buchner era officially started on Saturday night after he led Notre Dame on three scoring drives.
And then Buchner threw two interceptions. One of them was returned for a Virginia Tech touchdown. Buchner was lucky he didn’t have a third pass intercepted.
Then Buchner got hurt.
That's when Jack Coan looked like Tom Brady in the final 3:43. Notre Dame scored on a seven play, 75-yard drive that ended with a four-yard touchdown pass to Avery Davis. Coan actually kept a play alive with his mobility and hit Kevin Austin for the 2-point conversion to tie the game at 29. Then he moved them 40 yards on the next drive, which set up the 48-yard field goal by Jonathan Doerer for the win.
It’s impossible to figure out. If Buchner is hurt, Coan will likely start in two weeks against USC.
It doesn’t mean that the offensive problems go away under Coan. They have to figure out how to make him into a full game quarterback, not just a finisher.
2. I think there should be a moratorium on criticizing the offensive line. Amazing how (not really) much better the Irish are at running the ball when Buchner is in the game. They ran for 12 yards on 10 carries with Coan in the game in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Notre Dame ran for 50 yards on 10 carries with Buchner playing. Notre Dame finished with 192 yards rushing. Notre Dame ran the ball five times for 12-yards in the second half when Coan was in the game. The line isn’t great but the running game is much better when the quarterback is a threat to run. Which is the Coan problem.
3. Can Notre Dame finish the season with one-loss? Yes. USC is playing with an interim coach, North Carolina just lost to Florida State, Virginia, Navy and Georgia Tech are a combined 8-9. Stanford, which is 3-3, could be a tough finish on the road. It’s a little crazy to think the Irish could finish 11-1 given the lack of clarity it has at quarterback and the instability of the offensive line. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly needs to figure out how to get Coan rolling early. Maybe start in a two-minute drill.
4. There was a spirited defense from Kelly on Coan and why he’s been so stubborn about using him even though Notre Dame has struggled moving the ball with him in the first half. Basically, Coan practices like he played on the final two drives against Virginia Tech.
“We live with these guys,” Kelly said. “And so that’s the hard part. We see him every day. I didn’t name him the starting quarterback because he came up on the Ouija Board. It’s just the way it is. It was an uneven start. That’s why we pulled him and went with Buchner.”
5. Kicker Jonathan Doerer is now 4 for 6 from field goals that are longer than 40-yards this year. He’s 4 for 5 from between 40 and 49 yards. Doerer also made a game winner in overtime against Florida State from 41-yards. Kelly said that he tried to get the officials to stop the crowd from using its lasers but he Doerer told him not to bother. Doerer wanted to get on with the kick, which cleared easily.
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