Sam Hartman is 'driven by ball,' Notre Dame's new offensive coordinator Gerad Parker says

Mike Berardino
ND Insider
Dec 23, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons quarterback Sam Hartman (10) drops back to pass against the Missouri Tigers in the first quarter in the 2022 Gasparilla Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

SOUTH BEND — One of Gerad Parker’s first orders of business as Notre Dame’s newly promoted offensive coordinator has been to communicate his vision for Wake Forest transfer quarterback Sam Hartman and Gator Bowl MVP Tyler Buchner.

“Sam and all of them, they’re all critical because now you’re not building relationships with eight guys in the tight end room,” Parker said Monday after his promotion was formally announced at Notre Dame Stadium. “You’re building relationships with the entire offensive unit.”

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Less than three weeks after Hartman enrolled in mid-January, Tommy Rees left to become Alabama’s offensive coordinator. Parker, who will continue to coach Irish tight ends, had a head start over outside candidates Collin Klein (Kansas State) and Andy Ludwig (Utah) when it came to helping Hartman learn Rees’ old playbook.

“I understand the question about Sam because of the nature of him coming here and him getting here and it was big news,” Parker said. “But he is driven by ball and driven to get better and (came) here to have success here at Notre Dame. There’s been communication with all of them, but especially with him to sit down and talk to him about the direction of the offense, to maybe ease some anxieties because with change comes a lot of thoughts and things that you want to get addressed.”

Notre Dame will continue to be multiple out of a pro-style offense, coach Marcus Freeman said, but Parker will have the latitude to shrink or tweak the playbook as he sees fit.

Wisconsin tight ends coach Gino Guidugli, who spent the past six seasons at Cincinnati and was the Bearcats’ offensive coordinator in 2022, has yet to be announced as Notre Dame’s next quarterbacks coach.

With Notre Dame searching for Harry Hiestand’s replacement as offensive line coach as well, Parker has been busy keeping the Irish offense and position coaches apprised. Spring practice is a little over three weeks away.

“We’ve addressed it with the entire offensive unit, the staff and we’ll continue to give our guys confidence and let them know what the direction is to move forward,” Parker said.

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While Hartman enters as the FBS level’s active leader in career passing yards and touchdown passes, Buchner offers dual-threat skills that helped him beat out Drew Pyne for the starting job last offseason.

With Pyne having transferred to Arizona State and four-star freshman Kenny Minchey on site as a midyear enrollee, Parker was asked how he could maximize the skills of Hartman and Buchner.

“I think it’s our job to know what their skills are and make them better, but not get away from something that maybe is not what fits them,” Parker said. “It’s going to be our job to tailor this thing around in a pro-style form, as coach Freeman said, but we’re going to do what our players can do best and then find ways to enhance it.”

Notre Dame quarterback Tyler Buchner (12) holds with the MVP trophy after the team's Gator Bowl NCAA college football game against South Carolina on Friday, Dec. 30, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. Notre Dame won 45-38. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

Hartman ran the Slow Mesh RPO at Wake Forest, so there will be some adjustment for him beyond just getting to know a roomful of new faces. Buchner, who missed 10 games last season after surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder, accounted for five touchdowns in the 45-38 Gator Bowl win over South Carolina.

“There’s certain differences in the two,” Parker said. “It’s our job to play off those differences of who it may be with Sam, and the same thing of Tyler just as we did in the bowl game. We want to do what our guys are good at and then get better at doing them.”

Follow Notre Dame football writer Mike Berardino on Twitter @MikeBerardino.