In Week 2, then-No. 8 Notre Dame suffered one of the biggest upsets of the college football season thus far. The Fighting Irish lost to the unranked Marshall Thundering Herd at home by 26-21. With that result, Notre Dame remains winless in 2022, enough to make the team fall out of the college football rankings.
So far, Notre Dame has been one of the biggest surprises of the season, but for all the wrong reasons. The team had hopes of making the College Football Playoff. With a poor 0-2 start, the Fighting Irish will have to battle just to stay in the top 25 in the nation.
Now, back at home for the Week 3 matchup against California, the Fighting Irish will have their chance to bounce back. For that to happen, they will need to make some adjustments to finally get a victory this season.
With that being said, here are three changes Notre Dame must make to bounce back against the California Golden Bears.
3. Get Chris Tyree more involved
One of the bright spots from the Fighting Irish’ loss in the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma State, Chris Tyree has yet to break out this season.
Against the Cowboys, the running back had 115 receiving yards on six receptions, which included a 53-yard catch for a touchdown. He finished the game with 177 all-purpose yards, as he also recorded six carries and had 44 kick return yards.
— Notre Dame Recruiting (@NDrecruiting01) January 1, 2022
However, so far in the 2022 season, Tyree has not been very involved in the Fighting Irish game plan. In the loss to Marshall, he only had three carries for 17 yards. He also added 14 yards through the air on two catches.
In Week 1 versus Ohio State, between rushing and receiving, Tyree only had a total of 34 yards. If the Fighting Irish really wants more from its offense, he needs to get more opportunities. Otherwise, Notre Dame is limiting his development and the team will struggle once more on offense.
2. Both offensive and defensive lines have to step up
If Notre Dame wants to get the offense going, they’ll need to figure out their issues in the trenches. The offensive line for the Fighting Irish has been outplayed all year long, and it is impacting the running game as a whole.
In Week 2, Notre Dame had a total of 130 yards on the ground on 37 carries. For comparison, Marshall had 219 yards on 50 attempts. Additionally, the Fighting Irish’s defensive line allowed Thundering Herd running back Khalan Laborn to run for 163 yards, more than the entire running group for Notre Dame.
Luckily for the Fighting Irish, their next opponent is not known for its game on the ground. California only had 92 rushing yards in the win against UNLV. Still, if Notre Dame’s defense does not improve, the Golden Bears might consider adjusting their offensive game plan.
California also had three sacks and six tackles for loss versus the Rebels. That means that the Fighting Irish’s o-line must protect its quarterback and runners more if the team wants a better chance on the ground.
Unless linemen from both units step up, things should be difficult for Notre Dame. If they do have a better Week 3, the Fighting Irish can certainly come out with their first win of the 2022 season.
1. Backup quarterback Drew Pyne must have an immediate impact
If the two losses to open the season were not enough, Notre Dame was hit with bad news after the Marshall game. Starting quarterback Tyler Buchner is out for the remainder of the year with a high-grade AC joint sprain in his non-throwing shoulder. In 2022, Buchner was 28 of 50 on his pass attempts for 378 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
Now, Notre Dame Football will have Drew Pyne starting under center. This is his third year with the team, however, he does not have much experience on the field. Pyne has a total of seven games for Notre Dame, completing 20 of his 39 passes for 256 yards with three scores and a pick.
In the game against the Thundering Herd, Pyne came off the bench after Buchner went down with his injury. Pyne completed half of his six passes for 20 yards and a touchdown, but he also threw an interception in his first drive.
The matchup versus California will mark his first career start for the Fighting Irish. Although that is the case, fans are probably already unsatisfied with the team’s performance, so they might not have much patience with the new starting quarterback.
Because of that, Pyne will need to make an immediate impact on Notre Dame’s offense. Should he connect big passes and score early in the game, it might dictate the rhythm for the rest of the day on Saturday. A touchdown instead of a pick in his first drive of the game would be a game-changer, so expect some big attempts by Pyne for the Fighting Irish against the Golden Bears.