Notre Dame’s Gator Bowl Win: Three big picture items

Notre Dame Football is many things, but boring isn’t one of them. In truly 2022 Irish style, Notre Dame battled through bouts of very good play, very bad play and everything in between to lock up its ninth win of the year over South Carolina. This game had it all folks.

What do you make of this performance personally? Do you judge by how it closes this year. Or do you judge by and how it portends what is to come. I feel some sense of relief that this year is complete. It was always going to be one of adjustment and calibration, and I am pleased to be moving to the next phase of the Marcus Freeman experience.

Let’s take a look at three big picture items to think about as the Irish move into the offseason.

Good For Marcus

Notre Dame celebrates their win against South Carolina at TIAA Jacksonville Stadium during the Taxslayer Gator Bowl Championship on Friday, Dec.30th.2022.

It’s not a death knell by any means to start your head coaching tenure with an 0-2 bowl mark, but it’s not ideal either. Especially given Notre Dame’s widely publicized bowl failures, it was critical to balance the ledger at 1 and that mission was accomplished.

This win gives Freeman and the Irish momentum heading into the offseason and some juice for the next recruiting cycle. This win was also a good sign that the Freeman-led Irish can win coming off long layoffs, something not accomplished in last year’s Fiesta Bowl and this year’s Ohio State matchup. Always remember. There is no substitute for winning!

Buchner's Confidence

Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Tyler Buchner (12) high steps it into the end zone for a late first quarter touchdown.

Tyler Buchner has had a rough run the last handful of years. From injuries, COVID-19, to bad timing, his football development is years behind where it would normally be if not for a string of unfortunate circumstances. I can’t imagine how frustrated he has been through all of this. His performance was far from perfect, but I’m beyond thrilled he was able to get this win.

The QB room is about to get very interesting. Where does Buchner fall in the pecking order of Hartman (allegedly) next year, a second-year Minchey and true freshman CJ Carr after that? We wait and see. The competition will be fierce and high level very soon. The way it should be at this position at Notre Dame.

Consistently Inconsistent

Sept. 10, 2022; South Bend, Indiana; Marshall Thundering Herd defensive back Steven Gilmore (3) runs an interception back for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium. Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame’s Gator Bowl performance matched its performance overall in 2022. Wildly inconsistent. Much of this is to be expected in Year 1 after a regime change with so many moving parts. Irish fans just hope things stabilize moving forward.

Every coach speaks about consistency. Finding it. Building it. Needing it, Maintaining it. This will be the next step of the Freeman evolution. Reining in some of the program inconsistencies, so that they are manageable in the moment, not so extreme that they are season ruining.

For more Irish news & notes follow John on Twitter @alwaysirishINCAlways Irish on Youtube and or your preferred audio podcast provider.

Story originally appeared on Fighting Irish Wire