Jack Coan remains Notre Dame's starting QB against Virginia Tech after week of secrecy

Tyler James
ND Insider
Notre Dame's Jack Coan (17) at quarterback during the Notre Dame vs. Purdue NCAA football game Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Notre Dame’s quarterback competition returned to its preseason outcome Saturday night in Blacksburg, Va. 

Wisconsin graduate transfer Jack Coan will remain No. 14 Notre Dame’s starting quarterback for the sixth consecutive game. Head coach Brian Kelly refused to announce a starting quarterback ahead of the game at Virginia Tech (3-1), but Coan took the majority of the warmup reps with the starting offense in Lane Stadium prior to kickoff. 

Notre Dame (4-1) used three quarterbacks the previous week in a 24-13 loss to Cincinnati. Coan started, freshman Tyler Buchner played in parts of three drives and sophomore Drew Pyne played all but one snap in the second half. 

► Live updates:Scores and highlights from Notre Dame-Virginia Tech

► Noie:One loss by Notre Dame football, and the whole world just gets weird

Kelly said Tuesday he wasn’t hiding the quarterback decision for a competitive advantage. 

“I’m more interested in what we do more than I’m trying to hide something from Virginia Tech,” Kelly said. “They’ve seen all three play. They’re pretty smart. They can figure it out.” 

With Notre Dame trailing Cincinnati, 17-0, at halftime, Pyne helped the Irish get back in the game in the second half. But his performance wasn’t enough to complete a comeback. Pyne finished 9-of-22 passing for 143 yards with a 32-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Braden Lenzy. Pyne also rushed four times, including one sack, for 10 yards. 

Coan completed 14 of his 22 passes for 143 yards in the first half against Wisconsin. An interception thrown near the goal line wrecked Notre Dame’s promising opening drive. Buchner also threw an interception early in the second quarter. 

Coan’s lack of mobility behind a struggling offensive line was a problem for the Irish in the first five games. On 32 carries, including 20 sacks, Coan gained 48 yards and lost 122 yards for a net of negative 74 yards rushing. 

Pyne’s six carries in four quarters of action included 18 yards gained, 24 yards lost and two sacks. Buchner’s running ability has been clear — 14 rushes for 100 yards — but his passing ability hasn’t been obvious. Buchner completed three of his six pass attempts for 78 yards including a 55-yard touchdown to running back Chris Tyree. 

Coan entered Saturday’s game with 1,100 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions on 91-of-150 passing (60.7%). Pyne was 15-of-30 (50%) for 224 yards and two touchdowns in his two game appearances against Wisconsin and Cincinnati. Pyne entered the Wisconsin game in the third quarter when Coan injured his ankle. 

Follow ND Insider Tyler James on Twitter: @TJamesNDI.