Notre Dame sophomore quarterback Tyler Buchner will miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury, Irish head coach Marcus Freeman announced Monday. Buchner suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of Notre Dame’s 26-21 loss to Marshall on Saturday on the last of his 13 rushing attempts. He is expected to have surgery and Freeman projected a four-month recovery timeline.
Freeman said Buchner suffered a high-grade sprain to his AC joint in his left, non-throwing shoulder.
Buchner finished the day with 201 yards on 18-of-32 passing with two interceptions while adding 44 yards and two touchdowns, along with a successful two-point conversion, on those rushes. While the Irish offense could not find much of a rhythm at any point, his legs and ability to find junior tight end Michael Mayer regularly were about the only two aspects that did succeed.
Junior Drew Pyne stepped in for Buchner after the injury, and his second pass was intercepted by a Herd linebacker in the red zone. That was not Pyne’s first moment in a crucial backup role, having led Notre Dame in the fourth quarter against Wisconsin last year when starter Jack Coan suffered an injury. Pyne finished 2021 with two touchdowns and 224 yards on 15-of-30 passing, eventually losing his backup role to Buchner’s situational package.
Buchner finishes his first season as the Irish starter with a 56.0 percent completion rate, 378 passing yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions and 62 net rushing yards with two scores.
He beat out Pyne for the starting gig this season during the first week of preseason practices, Freeman then citing Buchner’s mobility as part of his and offensive coordinator Tommy Rees’ reasoning, something underscored by the Irish offensive line’s struggles thus far in the season.
Pyne will now start for Notre Dame (0-2) against Cal (2-0) on Saturday (2:30 ET; NBC). Freeman said Monday he intends to still utilize mobility from the quarterback position.
“I don’t see the offense changing extremely,” Freeman said. “We’re still going to be able to do some of the QB runs we do with Tyler and obviously the passing game will continue to enhance it and figure out ways to be more consistent in it and put [Pyne] in a situation to hopefully have more completions.
“I don’t see the offense, in terms of the entire package, changing because of Drew being a quarterback. I do see us asking, ‘Where can we be more efficient on offense?'”
Freshman Steve Angeli will back up Pyne. An early enrollee, Angeli excelled in the Blue-Gold Game to close spring practices, scoring the game-winning touchdown as the clock expired. He threw for 180 yards and a touchdown on 11-of-17 passing that day, but the 10-yard dash to the corner pylon was all that many will remember.
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) April 26, 2022
Angeli has been leading the Irish scout team in practice the last two weeks, so his handle of the entire playbook is still developing. Nonetheless, he is now one snap away from having to lead Notre Dame’s offense against a defensive-focused Cal.
“We have to figure out what can Steve Angeli handle and what can he be efficient with if he needs to go into the game right now?” Freeman said. “Hopefully that package can continue to grow as the season moves forward.”
It should go without saying, but typically when an arm goes limp like Tyler Buchner’s did after this weight-bearing hit the recovery timeline is substantial.
No official diagnosis on the Notre Dame starting quarterback yet, but that looks like a severe shoulder injury. pic.twitter.com/2vhg7uBdKc
— Tyler Horka (@tbhorka) September 11, 2022