Notre Dame Fighting Irish to keep mixing Jack Coan, Tyler Buchner at QB

ByHeather Dinich ESPN logo
Monday, October 18, 2021

Notre Dame quarterback Jack Coan will start Saturday against rival USCbut freshman backup Tyler Buchner will also continue to see playing time, coach Brian Kelly said Monday.

Notre Dame has used at least two quarterbacks in every game since the season opener against Florida State, struggling to find consistency at the position.

"Jack Coan continues to be the guy that we feel like gives us the best chance to win, and a mixture of him with Tyler Buchner," Kelly said. "Drew [Pyne] has done some really good things for us, and if we feel like we're in a situation where we need to call on him, we would, but I think right now, as we look at it, it's probably in my mind -- and I know in Tommy's [offensive coordinator Tommy Rees'] -- that Jack will start and we'll continue to get Tyler more playing time."

Coan, who transferred from Wisconsin, asserted himself as the starter in Notre Dame's 41-38 win against Florida State, with 366 passing yards and four touchdowns. With the exception of a few impressive drives, the position has been a question mark since then, but inexperience on the offensive line also hasn't helped. The Irish have had a bye week to figure it out.

"I think it's a process for us that we feel better about right now," Kelly said. "We've made some changes on the offensive line. We think personnel makes a difference. Certainly Tyler adds a little bit more balance there because when you have to defend the quarterback obviously he gets you more diversity, but I think you're going to continue to see an uptick in terms of the running game and its consistency and that's what we're looking for."

Through six games, Coan has completed 61.7% of his passes with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. Buchner has played in four games, with two touchdowns and three interceptions, and Pyne has played in two games with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Of the three of them, Coan is the only one who has completed more than 50% of his passes, but he struggled in the first half against Cincinnati and was replaced by Pyne in the third quarter of the 24-13 loss.

Kelly said it hasn't been a problem managing the quarterback room because all three players respect each other and want each other to succeed when they're on the field.

"Yeah, they're all competitive, they all want to play," Kelly said, "but I think if you're transparent and you're face to face with them and what you say is what you do, and you build that relationship with them, then you're going to have a room that the guys will work together."