For those of you counting, there’s 148 days until the Notre Dame Fighting Irish open up their season in Austin against the Texas Longhorns. Yup, the game has been pushed back to a prime-time Sunday night slot, which honestly is so hot.
The Irish will look quite different from last season; gone is pretty much their entire receiving corps (Will Fuller, Amir Carlisle and Chris Brown), along with a lot of solidified starters on the defensive side (Jaylon Smith, Sheldon Day, and pretty much all of their secondary). Of course, since ND is ND, they reload, they don’t rebuild. They ushered in the 15th best recruiting class, which includes linebacker Daelin Hayes and defensive end Khalid Kareem. They may or may not contribute this season, but either way, the expectations are big on these kids, among others.
However, the most burning question that is surrounding the Fighting Irish is this: who the hell is going to play quarterback? Since I’m a very stupid person, I said that I thought (Zayn) Malik Zaire, who broke his ankle against Virginia in the second game of the season, would transfer out of South Bend after the emergence of DeShone Kizer. Obviously, that hasn’t happened. Plus, to make things even more complicated, Brian Kelly said that true sophomore Brandon Wimbush would compete with Zaire and Kizer for the starting job in spring ball, too.
Now, I don’t expect Wimbush to leapfrog either on the depth chart, as good as he is (and he is really good, kid can fly, just ask the UMass defense), so I’m just going to focus on the other two quarterbacks in this article.
Zaire is the older player and the veteran who has been exposed to Coach Kelly’s offense longer. He’s got a big arm, even if he does throw with the wrong arm since he’s left-handed, and he can fly.
I don’t think it’s that big of a stretch to say that Zaire would be one of the better two-way quarterbacks in all of college football if he was to play over the course of a full season. He’s a good leader, as you could always see him supportively helping out Kizer on the sidelines. Plus, he’s confident, since he declared himself the “savior of Notre Dame football” last summer. The catch is that, though he has been around longer than Kizer, he isn’t as experienced.
Kizer, a redshirt freshman last year, came in after Zaire got hurt and famously threw a game-winning touchdown to Fuller at Virginia.
He had his bumps and bruises, which is to be expected from a first-time starting quarterback. But he, in my opinion, played much better than what was expected. I think he’s a better passer than Zaire, and while Zaire is faster, Kizer is no slouch either when carrying the ball, as he set a Notre Dame single season record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.
I don’t think you could go wrong with either signal-caller. Contrary to the saying, “if you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have a quarterback”, Kelly could trot out either guy and go win at least 9 games. I’m definitely partial to #14, though. Kizer played well last year, challenging Clemson early in the season and playing rather well down the stretch. He’s the younger option, and he’s a guy that would come up with all of the recruits now. ND football will always be competitive, but in a year or two, they could have a damn good, National Championship-contending team. Putting Zaire on the field may or may not help on the field now, but there’s still question marks as to what he can do over the course of a full season. Plus, playing him takes away from the development of DeShone Kizer.
Coach Kelly, if you’re reading this, I, on behalf of N2K Sports, offer my Notre Dame starting quarterback endorsement to DeShone Kizer #Kizer2016 #MakeNDGreatAgain.
Cover photo courtesy of Twitter.
GIFs courtesy of nonreinforcement3.rssing.com and Reddit, in reverse order.