SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Charlie Strong isn’t going to publicly reveal who Texas’ starting quarterback will be until either Shane Buechele or Tyrone Swoopes takes the first snap Sunday night.
Strong isn’t the first or last football coach to give in to the temptation to play coy with who his starting quarterback will be. The line of thinking is that if the opponent doesn’t know who will start, it’ll put them at a disadvantage.
Brian Kelly hasn’t said who will be his starting quarterback on Sunday, it’s worth noting, though Texas has had over two weeks to prepare for both DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire to take the field in Austin. Who starts will mostly be relevant as a trivia question (who gets the most snaps on Sunday is far more important).
So is Notre Dame preparing any differently for its season opener despite not knowing if Texas will run Buechele or Swoopes out for the first snap of the game?
“Nope,” cornerback Cole Luke said. “We’re going to do the same thing.”
Notre Dame faced Swoopes last year and limited him to seven completions in 22 attempts and 10 rushes for 17 yards. He’s not an accomplished passer — he completed 50.5 percent of his throws last year — but does have a decent knack for escaping pressure and running the ball.
Buechele is an unknown at the college level, with the only film on him a close-to-meaningless spring game earlier this year. By all accounts, the four-star recruit and son of former Chicago Cubs third baseman Steve Buechele impressed during spring and fall practice. But how will the dual-threat freshman handle his first college game is a question that still has to be answered.
“It changes a little bit in terms of keeping Swoopes in the pocket and not letting him break contain,” Kelly said. “We have some things for him that we may not employ for Buechele.”
The element of surprised is lessened by the likelihood both quarterbacks will play on Sunday, so Notre Dame has to be prepared for both. The only surprise Strong could pull would be to run a gadget play with quarterback-turned-receiver Jerrod Heard, though given Notre Dame’s trick play issues last year, not allowing big gains on those has been a focus this year.
The biggest issue for Notre Dame’s defense will be handling Texas’ up-tempo offense. Who quarterbacks it isn’t going to change much, even if Strong is operating under the belief it might.
“We gotta do what we gotta do no matter what,” defensive end Isaac Rochell said. “Obviously you have different personnel with the quarterback but it doesn’t change what we do.’”