The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have College Football Playoff aspirations. However, they still have decided on the starting quarterback to help them reach those dreams.
The Irish have only had three preseason practices, but head coach Brian Kelly has not made a definitive decision on who his starting quarterback will be. He has two solid options in redshirt junior Malik Zaire and redshirt sophomore DeShone Kizer.
Zaire won the starting quarterback job last season, but only started two games for the Irish. He dazzled everyone in his first start against the University of Texas in Week 1.
He posted 313 passing yards, threw three touchdowns and completed 19 of his 22 passes. Unfortunately, he broke his ankle in Week 2 against the University of Virginia.
Kizer took advantage of Zaire’s season-ending injury. In the 13 games he played in (11 starts), Kizer completed 211 of 335 passes for 2,884 yards with 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. As a result, he helped the Irish finish with a 10-3 record and a No. 11 ranking nationally.
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Kelly has not indicated when he will determine who his starting quarterback will be. It will be a tough decision to make because both guys are really good dual-threat quarterbacks.
Zaire is only six-feet tall, which is not an ideal size for a quarterback. Zaire has gotten away with his lack of height because he is fast and elusive. He is a good scrambler and very good as a ball carrier (averages 5.6 yards per carry).
Meanwhile, Kizer has the perfect height for a quarterback. He is 6’4” tall, which allows him to see over linemen and survey the field. Kizer’s completion percentage is not much better than Zaire’s (62.9% to 62.7%), but Kizer has better physical tools. He is also a capable runner (3.9 yards per carry).
According to Kelly, this position battle will not affect Notre Dame’s offense. Kelly believes he and his coaching staff can implement the entire offense in practice despite having two quarterbacks splitting reps.
"“They [Zaire and Kizer] have some strengths and weaknesses within the offense that we’ll tweak just a little bit, but there’s no overhaul of the offense if one is in vs. the other. There’s just some play selections that would be different. So we can still lay down our entire installation seamlessly.”"
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish could be a real contender for a College Football Playoff berth. However, they need determine who their starting quarterback will be.
The position battle will continue to heat up as the season opener against the Texas Longhorns draws nearer.