Hartman leads Gold to 24-0 shutout over Blue in 2023 Blue-Gold Game

Published: Apr. 22, 2023 at 5:54 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Fans braved the elements of a “spring” game at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday afternoon to get their first look at the 2023 Fighting Irish football team.

An announced attendance of 32,942 watched the Gold team defeat the Blue team 24-0 behind the early play of graduate transfer quarterback Sam Hartman on a cold, rainy April day in South Bend.

Hartman went 13-of-16 for 189 yards, including two passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown, before he was subbed out for Steve Angeli late in the second quarter, which means fans only got a hint of what they should expect to see from the former Wake Forest starter this upcoming fall.

As for Hartman’s counterpart on the opposite team, Tyler Buchner, it was more of a struggle. Buchner went 8-of-18 for 44 yards and an interception.

However, head coach Marcus Freeman took responsibility for the pick during his postgame press conference. He also alluded to some dropped passes and a lack of protection accounting for some of those struggles.

In the end, Freeman isn’t rushing to make a decision on QB1, as he said there is still a quarterback battle between Hartman and Buchner, regardless of Saturday’s stats.

“I’m always going to defend the quarterbacks because, as I’ve always said, that position is most like the head coach. They get praise and criticism,” Freeman said. “Everybody’s going to praise Sam for how he played today, they’re going to criticize Tyler. They both probably played pretty well, we have to look at the film. I know the stats might not say it, but both of them are tremendously talented. We’ll go back and evaluate over 15 (spring) practices and continue to look at it as we move forward.”

As for some other highlights on Saturday, early-enrollee freshman wide receiver Jaden Greathouse had a solid debut for the Irish, finishing the game with 11 catches for 118 yards. Meanwhile, junior Jayden Thomas made four catches for 71 yards and a score, which caught the eye of Tom Noie from our reporting partners at the South Bend Tribune. Both of them were on the Gold team.

Gi’Bran Payne led all rushers in the game with 51 yards, while Sam Assaf added another 42 yards. Both of them were also on the Gold team’s roster.

On defense, Jaylen Sneed led the Gold team with seven tackles, while Nolan Ziegler had a game-high 10 tackles for the Blue team.

While it was ultimately a lopsided win for the Gold team on the stat sheet, Freeman said he saw a lot of positives on both sides of the ball and that he’s really pleased with the progression of this football team.

“That’s ultimately what matters,” Freeman said. “You try to make it competitive; you try to make it winner/loser and see how they respond in an environment like that. Obviously, there were some restrictions I had on the defense. It’s really good to see though.

“It was good work,” he added. “Looks like, for the most part, everybody was pretty healthy, and that’s what you want to do. As I told this group, you look at 15 practices and the progression we’ve made, it’s tremendous.”

After finals and a little bit of time off, the Irish will go back to work in June to prepare for their matchup against Navy in Ireland, which will take place during college football’s “Week 0″ on Aug. 26.