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NC State looks forward to the challenge of Notre Dame transfer Sam Hartman's return to Raleigh

The Wolfpack will face a familiar opponent in the opposing backfield this weekend, although not with the same team as usual.

Notre Dame comes to town on Saturday and brings starting quarterback Sam Hartman with them. Hartman is in his first season with the Irish – he joins the program as a graduate transfer – but he is no stranger to NC State

Hartman came from Wake Forest, where he spent five seasons and led the Demon Deacons to a 2-2 record against State, and suffered a 30-21 loss to the Wolfpack in 2022, when he threw for 397 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

In the Pack's 45-42 loss to Wake in 2021, Hartman threw for 290 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Cornerback Shyheim Battle recorded one of the picks.

Now Hartman returns to Carter-Finley Stadium with a new program, but with the same desire to leave with a win. Battle admits he didn't think NC State would see Hartman again, especially not in a new uniform, but he doesn't think it will be strange.

Notre Dame-NC State football first look: Can the Wolf Pack stop Sam Hartman and the Irish?

“He knows us. I know him,” the redshirt junior said. “He gave me an interception, and I'm looking forward to another one.”

NC State head coach Dave Doeren praised Hartman's abilities. He left Wake Forest as one of the best quarterbacks in program history.

He threw 110 touchdown passes in his career, an ACC record and an NCAA top-20 mark. He added 12,967 passing yards and holds the Deacs record for total completions, attempts, yards per game, total yards and total TDs. Hartman has accounted for at least one touchdown in 34 consecutive games since 2020.

Additionally, the Irish's new starter is No. 1 in ACC history with the most passing touchdowns in a single game. He remains the only Wake Forest QB with five or more passing touchdowns in multiple games. Hartman finished his illustrious career with 27 wins, second in school history.

“He's a really good player. “He’s been a really good player for a long time,” Doeren said. “He’s a winner; a champion in high school and we all know what he did at Wake. You can see his confidence and how he manages their offense, getting the ball to the right people and making plays with his feet when needed.”

Facing Hartman in this scenario comes with advantages and disadvantages. The pack knows what kind of athlete Hartman is and knows how to make him uncomfortable. At the same time, he operates in a completely different system.

Doeren and defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said defending Hartman in Notre Dame's offense won't be the same as defending Hartman in Wake Forest's offense.

Gibson expects a strong downhill game with big defenders. He said it was a big challenge, but he was excited. There are no concerns about the running back rotation and whether one player does something different. The pack focuses primarily on its own efforts.

“We have to make sure we have 11 players for football. That’s the key for us,” Gibson said. “We can’t leave our DBs one-on-one with these big defenders.”

Despite a strong running game, Hartman continues to be an effective passer for the Irish. The graduate student threw for 445 yards in the first two games and dominated the competition.

Battle said he is looking forward to the matchup and hopes to limit Notre Dame's opportunities for explosive plays.

“I just know he’s a guy who likes to take risks,” Battle said. “He wants to give his receivers a chance to make a big play, so I just have to be ready at all times and know that he could try to throw the ball at any moment.”

The opener between the Irish and the Wolfpack is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at Carter-Finley Stadium.

Anna Harden

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