The Notre Dame Fighting Irish finally settled on a starting quarterback, although the decision came Wednesday after they had already lost their season-opening game to Texas.
According to Matt Fortuna of ESPN.com, Notre Dame named DeShone Kizer the starter over Malik Zaire in anticipation of Saturday’s contest against Nevada. Kizer discussed the decision, per Fortuna:
I had a conversation with Coach [Brian] Kelly today, and he decided that this week I was going to get the first snap for sure, and he kind of congratulated me on fighting through the process and encouraged me to maintain the same mindset and just ensured me that I would be the guy on Saturday. …
As of now, I’m expecting to be the only guy. The conversation was just more to let me know I’ll be the guy.
Kizer did acknowledge that “there’s going to come a time where you’re definitely going to see him on the field” when discussing Zaire, but it appears as if the Notre Dame offense now belongs to No. 14.
He was the superior quarterback during Sunday’s double-overtime loss to Texas with far more passing yards and rushing yards than Zaire and six touchdowns. He also didn’t turn the ball over and kept the Fighting Irish in the game even though the defense struggled in the 50-47 shootout:
|Notre Dame's Quarterbacks in Season Opener|
|Stat||DeShone Kizer||Malik Zaire|
Bleacher Report illustrated Kizer’s overall effectiveness:
Kizer did start Sunday’s game and marched the Fighting Irish right down the field for a touchdown, but he split playing time with Zaire throughout the first half. It wasn’t until the middle of the third quarter when Kelly finally gave the reins to Kizer for the rest of the game after Zaire struggled to match the starter’s production.
Kizer served as Notre Dame’s quarterback for much of last season after Zaire broke his ankle in Week 2. He finished with 2,884 passing yards, 520 rushing yards and 31 total touchdowns. The dual-threat quarterback led the Fighting Irish to the Fiesta Bowl, where they lost to Ohio State in a New Year’s Six showdown.
Despite the loss to Texas, Notre Dame’s championship hopes are not dashed.
The Fighting Irish still play marquee contests against Michigan State, Stanford, Miami, Virginia Tech and USC; their schedule gives them the opportunity to climb in the rankings from their current No. 18 spot in the Associated Press poll.
Ohio State and Alabama won the first two College Football Playoff championships, and each program lost a game in September those years. If Notre Dame is going to replicate that formula, Kizer will be the one at the controls.