CHAT TRANSCRIPT: Talking C'Bo, Notre Dame's TB12 and who's going to catch the ball

Mike Berardino
ND Insider

JotCast | ND Football March Chat | 3/2/2022

Robb, Colorado: Mike, welcome to chat land. While I would like to see C’Bo have a successful last season I am not sure the Irish need him with Tyree, Diggs, Estime and Price.  Will we even see him this year or has time moved on without him?

Mike Berardino: Hi Robb. It's nice to be with you here in Chat Land. It does like another lifetime since C'Bo Flemister earned the game ball after the November 2020 win at Boston College. Three carries all last season, when he was unavailable for long stretches, have obviously cost him career momentum. The blazing speed remains, however. Maybe he gets back on the field through special teams, although Tyree is the top weapon on kickoff return for sure.

Steven from Athens GA: Hey there, thanks for keeping these chats going. I'm gonna try to keep this as short as possible. With a lot of talent and experience coming back from last year that may need a little more polishing, if there is no clear winner at QB coming out of spring could you see ND making a move for a guy like JT Daniels? I can see both sides of the argument about how this can effect your QB room and recruiting. But I also think Tommy could do great things in the offense if he had an elite QB. Thanks again!

Mike Berardino: Hello Steven. Thanks for your question. Things worked out so well with Jack Coan as a grad transfer last season, it's tempting to think Notre Dame could find another plug-and-play leader at QB. I just don't see it happening at this point. And remember, Coan made his jump during the winter, giving him plenty of time to make the transition. This will be Tyler Buchner's second spring practice, and he showed flashes in limited play last fall, so no doubt Plan A is for him to seize the starting job. Drew Pyne will get plenty of reps as well, and Steve Angeli is here as an early enrollee. I'd imagine Buchner would have to struggle a la Phil Jurkovec in spring 2019 for the Irish to go QB portal shopping again.

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Mark from Florida: No question.  Just want to welcome you.  I have been a fan of your work since your days at the Sun-Sentinel down here. I look forward to reading your work.  Best of luck.

Mike Berardino: Hi Mark. Can't thank you enough for those kind words and for your loyalty as a reader. You are the early leader for Non-Question of the Day.

RenoJoe: Mike, Welcome!  What a great time to be an Irish fan and even better time to be an Irish sportswriter. What are the odds that ND start a true freshman at QB next year?  Tyler is fine, Steve, will be better. I realize we have not seen him play yet but Tyler has yet to prove he can spin it. What do you think?  And welcome to the jungle.

Mike Berardino: RenoJoe, hello! Thanks for the welcome. This does seem like a great time to jump back into daily Notre Dame coverage as the Marcus Freeman era begins. I've been around in various capacities since the Stanford game in 2018 — my first assignment for the Indy Star — but this role requires a whole new level of mastery and it will take me a bit to get up to full speed. That said, for all the leadership qualities young Steve Angeli possesses, there's still quite a learning curve in front of him. Feel free to remind me of your prediction should it come true.

jim in Charlottesville, VA: Glad to see the new Football Chat!  Are you receiving questions? The url link to join in is not posted om ny laptop screen.

Mike Berardino: Hello, Jim. Yes, I can read you loud and clear. I eagerly await your question.

Notre Dame’s Tyler Buchner (12) runs the ball during the Notre Dame vs. Georgia Tech NCAA football game Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.

Johnny Dallas Tx: The eternal question, at least this year’s version: going off everything you’ve seen\heard\know, and pre-spring practice, which could, and probably will, change your perception. How good will (our version) TB12 be when the play calls for him to be pocket passer. 2 more queries if you will: which QB in the '23 class do you rank highest right now? Which '23 QB do you think, as of today, has the best chance of signing with the Irish?

Mike Berardino: Hey Johnny. Tyler Buchner has enough to worry about without the borrowed TB12 tag — convenient as it is — being affixed to him. From all reports, he was a pass-first QB in high school, so there's no reason to think he can't improve on the accuracy and footwork he showed off the bench as a freshman. Marcus Freeman positively raved about Buchner's passing ability before the Fiesta Bowl. Then, of course, Buchner never got on the field. That was unfortunate on several levels. Keeping him in the pocket, though? I'm not sure that's the best path for a player with his speed, toughness and instincts as a runner. Let's see how Tommy Rees decides to use Hybrid Tyler now that the starting job is his to win. As for Dante Moore, my crystal ball  is hazy but he's a consensus top-5 QB for a reason.

Jim in Charlottesville: The Irish currently seem to me too  exposed at QB and RB if the inexperienced relevant players do not come on strongly in Spring. How might Coaches Freeman and Rees adjust if this happens?

Mike Berardino: Hello again, Jim. Glad you were able to get through. Please see the answers above. I'm not sure running back is as much of an area of concern, however, especially with Harry Hiestand back on staff to restore order up front.  All those yards Kyren Williams was forced to gain after contact last year should be more easily gobbled up this fall.

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Henry from Stockton: We hear the new receivers’ coach has a great personality and connects with kids and their parents. However nothing has happened with the Irish getting any receivers (the thinnest position on the team) through the transfer portal. Do you have some insight?

Mike Berardino: Patience, Henry. Patience. Reading between the lines of Tommy Rees' recent comments on receiver depth, the current group will get its chance to show its progress in spring ball. If Styles, Colzie and Thomas show playmaking ability and push Lenzy, Salerno and the rehabbing veterans, this might not be the front-burner issue you see it as now. Either way, Notre Dame is counting on Chansi Stuckey's high-energy personality and Sun Belt recruiting connections to open doors that previously had been shut. That certainly could include a grad transfer sometime after the Blue-Gold Game.

Mike Edinger: Are the Irish content with the QB situation and competition between Buchner and Drew Pyne, or are they still searching for a transfer QB with experience?

Mike Berardino: Hi Mike. Content? That's a dangerous term in big-time sports. I'm not sure any program with championship aspirations can allow itself to feel satisfied with any part of its roster, much less the most important position on the field. Searching? That seems like a loaded word, too. Let's go with "closely monitoring." The floor is clear for Buchner to take charge when spring practice opens on St. Patrick's Day. Now it's up to him to make that happen.

Ryan mars pa: Mike how do you think the team will do in coach freeman’s first year as head coach go Irish

Mike Berardino: Taking over a program that has averaged exactly two losses per year over the past five seasons comes with a limited honeymoon period. And there are certainly easier places to start your first full season as a head coach than at Ohio State, Freeman's loaded alma mater. I'm going to steer clear of predictions for now, but I will take this opportunity to remind you the past seven Notre Dame football coaches averaged 4.6 losses in their debut seasons. In fact, the last coach to open with fewer than three losses in Year 1 was Ara Parseghian (9-1 in 1964.). So, yes, it might be a good idea to temper those expectations just a bit as a talented young coach settles into his new job.

Mike Berardino: Thanks for all the questions, everybody. Hope we can do this again before spring practice starts and then carry it right on through the Blue-Gold Game and beyond. See you at ndinsider.com.

Staff writer Mike Berardino can be reached at mberardino@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBerardino.