From the moment he committed to Notre Dame as a sophomore in high school, talented quarterback Tyler Buchner has generated a great deal of excitement among Irish faithful.
After he passed for 4,474 yards, rushed for 1,610 yards and racking up 81 touchdowns as a junior during the 2019 season that excitement reached a fever pitch.
California canceling the 2020 fall season stunted his development a bit, and Buchner entered the 2021 season having only played one season of football due to that cancelation and him missing the 2018 season due to a knee injury.
Despite the presence of veteran grad transfer Jack Coan and sophomore Drew Pyne, Buchner has worked his way onto the field as a true freshman, and he's had some impressive moments.
The first time Buchner touched a football in college he raced 26 yards and led the Irish on a 96-yard touchdown drive. He did the same thing on his first series against Virginia Tech, leading Notre Dame on a 75-yard touchdown drive that was fueled by a gorgeous 46-yard throw, and he followed that up with an 80-yard touchdown drive two series later.
Buchner completed 5-8 passes for 101 yards and a touchdown in the second quarter alone. He added 26 rushing yards and another score as the Irish turned a 10-0 deficit when he entered the game into a 14-13 halftime lead.
By halftime the Irish Breakdown message board and my Twitter feed were filled with comments about the future arriving early, and it was time to hand the keys completely over to Buchner.
Based on that one quarter I get that sentiment, but at halftime the Hokie coaches made adjustments and the second half showed that while Buchner has truly elite, special tools he's also a true freshman who is more inexperienced than your typical first-year player.
Buchner went just 1-6 passing in the second half and he was picked off twice. His first interception was returned for a touchdown that gave the Hokies a 22-21 lead. Notre Dame's only touchdown drive in the second half among the five series with Buchner at quarterback was a 29-yard drive that was set up by the defense picking off the Virginia Tech quarterback.
Virginia Tech mixed up its presnap looks up front, disguised coverages and had Buchner guessing more than he was reading. He
In one game we saw Buchner flash the elite throwing and running talent that made him one of the nation's best players, and a quarterback the Irish coaches and fans are excited to have. In that same game we also saw that Buchner's inexperience will likely limit him to a rotational role in 2021.
Of course, Buchner could prove me wrong and the light could go on during the bye after he got some extended experience, but based on what we've seen this season the more teams see him the better they are able to limit the offense.
It's exciting to think about what this offense will look like once he combines experience and some time in the Notre Dame strength program with his special physical tools, but that time is likely past the 2021 season.
His time will come at Notre Dame, but barring a huge jump over the next few weeks I think 2022 is when we'll see the reins fully handed over to Buchner.
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