Irish offense working to improve season alongside new quarterback
Before his injury, Tyler Buchner went 18 for 32 for 200 yards, two interceptions, and two touchdowns on the ground against Marshall.
But with the sophomore quarterback sidelined for the entire season, the next man up is junior Drew Pyne.
"It's an honor to be able to help, you know, help this team win," said Pyne.
"I didn't know when his time was going to come but I knew it was going to come at some point. And here it is," said Coach Freeman.
Pyne got his 2022 campaign underway with one interception and one touchdown on 20 yards in the final three minutes of the home opener.
But the Irish are confident in Pyne's ability to take over the reins.
"Drew's care factors is about as high as anyone’s can be," said Offensive Coordinator Tommy Rees.
"He's a natural leader," said Coach Freeman.
"Drew Pyne is a man of unbelievable character," said offensive lineman Josh Lugg.
His off the field attributes are one thing but leading the Irish to their first win of the season is another.
"I'm focused on one thing, and that's preparing as hard as I can for Cal, and practicing as hard as I can," Pyne said.
In the first two games, we’ve seen a lack of overall offense from the Irish.
"I don’t know, it’s hard. We execute during practice. We do runs during practice. We have great runs during practice," said tight end Michael Mayer.
But it’s not showing up in the game or the stat sheet.
"I do see us trying to look and see, 'okay, hey, where can we be more efficient and as an offense?'" said Coach Freeman.
So far, the Irish game plan has been to run the ball but Notre Dame is only averaging 103 yards a game, ranking them at 111 in the nation.
A large part of that falls on the lack of execution from the offensive line.
"I wouldn't say, I wouldn't put frustrated on it," said Lugg. "We're trying to take as much emotion out of it as possible."
Another factor is not putting the ball in the hands of the most experienced running back in the room, Chris Tyree.
After posting 480 yards on the ground and through the air last season, Tyree averaged a team high of 5.7 rushing yards per carry against Marshall and just 12 touches total in two games.
"We got to continue to find ways, that you know, we think and to help our offense be more explosive touches. And Chris certainly falls into that category," said Coach Rees.
"He's a guy that we know has to be on the field," said Coach Freeman. "I think we got to find ways to get the ball in his hands because he's a playmaker."
While the offense works out its kinks, the Irish believe that Pyne is the guy they need moving forward.
"The last two years [he] competed for that sort of job," said Lugg. "And you've never once ever saw him hang his head. We need to have guys like Drew Pyne in our locker room, like he is Notre Dame and he is the gold standard for us. So, I'm excited to block for him and his opportunity."