Notre Dame’s 24-17 win over Cal was extremely important — but it didn’t neccessarily inspire a ton of confidence in Drew Pyne by the Irish faithful as they prepare for the North Carolina Tar Heels this week. The junior from Connecticut finished the game 17-24 for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns, but his early struggles had almost everyone ready to smash the panic button.
It was an awkward situation in the first half, and one that really brought up the issue of the transfer portal. Marcus said they took a pass on going after a QB in the portal during the offseason.
“We discussed it right when we became the head coach. I had conversations with Coach Rees about it. We felt like at that moment we did not need to get a college transfer.”
With Notre Dame’s inexperience, and the injury history of Tyler Buchner (who is now out for the season with an injury) it really looks like a bad decision in hindsight. Most of the portal talk during the offseason revolved around the wide receiver position (which ND did not get) but it’s likely that the QB room was the one that really needed a boost in talent.
When Freeman was pressed about next season and if the Irish will dip into the portal for a quarterback transfer, he was noncommital.
“That is something we’ll talk about after the season and see where Tyler Buchner is coming back from injury. We have a long season ahead of us. We still have nine guaranteed games in front of us to evaluate Drew and Steve Angeli and Ronnie Powlus. If that’s a position of need that we need to go and get a high school quarterback or get a transfer quarterback, we’ll definitely evaluate that.”
Of course, there is still a chance that the QB room adds C.J. Carr in the fall if the 5-Star QB decides to reclassify — but that may still not be enough in 2023 as Carr won’t be able to enroll in the spring.
As for the remainder of the season, Freeman expressed faith in Drew Pyne’s ability, and expects him to continue to improve and settle in for the Irish.
“I believe he can open the passing game. I think he can open up the passing game. He’s got a strong arm, but what we were trying to do Saturday is getting what we needed to do to win. That’s what we ended up doing. But hopefully the second half is a better indication of who Drew Pyne is. He is a passionate dude and sometimes that can be almost your biggest challenge. As you looked at the start of the game, I think maybe sometimes he’s so excited, so anxious that he was making throws a little bit lower than he usually does or maybe a little bit higher than he usually does just because of the game. For him to calm down and really like, ‘Drew, go play, go play, do the things that you’ve done to get you to this point, and go play.’ To see him settle down and turn around and execute, I think about the 3rd and 3 catch on third down to Lorenzo Styles and to throw the ball away from the defender. Those little things, man, just take the layups that they give you and there was a couple early in the game that we were missing. I have a lot of confidence in Drew running this offense and being able to throw the ball downfield if we need to, depending on what the defense is doing, and making the right decisions.”
Freeman’s full presser is available below.