Notre Dame kicks off at Texas in less than four days. And it’s still not clear anybody knows exactly how the quarterback rotation between Malik Zaire and DeShone Kizer will work.
This includes the quarterbacks themselves.
“Obviously we’d both like it to be where we both knew exactly what was gonna happen, how it was gonna be,” Kizer said. “We’d both rather ourselves be the only guy playing, but this is how it is. So we’re gonna continue to compete.”
When Notre Dame’s two starting quarterbacks see the field in Austin remains uncertain. Who takes the first snap remains unknown. How they’ll rotate by series, by quarter or by play, Brian Kelly isn’t saying. His players, not just the ones actually playing the position, don’t have a handle on it either.
Yet the intentional obfuscation of the quarterback situation may serve Kelly’s ultimate goal in a roundabout way, mainly to take the focus off a circus that’s been running since spring practice. Whether it’s Kizer or Zaire, Kelly thinks either quarterback will drive the offense just fine behind a talented offensive line and deep group of running backs.
And maybe that lets Notre Dame’s quarterbacks charge the offense more than carry it.
“That’s always been the goal for us, to do what it takes the win the game,” Zaire said. “For me, it’s whatever it takes to get that opportunity and make the most out of it with those guys around me.
“I know what I can do on the field. I’m excited to be able to take that opportunity and run with it.”
If the quarterbacks have truly adjusted to a new normal where both will play, they didn’t show much of it Wednesday after the week’s final heavy practice. While their approach to questions about job sharing didn’t border on the disgust of Media Day, Zaire didn’t hold hands with Kizer either. They both spoke at a podium usually reserved for Kelly during his Tuesday press conferences, Kizer first and Zaire second.
But to hear their teammates tell it, the job share is going just fine. Zaire and Kizer may offer different skill sets, but they bring a similar voice.
“They’re both very vocal,” said running back Tarean Folston. “They’re both not scared to tell anybody if they’re doing anything wrong or right. I think it’s very easy for them to lead. They definitely show it.”
Which doesn’t mean Zaire and Kizer lead in exactly the same way.
The improvisational left-hander is more animated in the huddle. The collected right-hander delivers a calmer approach.
“I don’t think it’s exactly the same because they’re different guys, but it’s very similar,” said offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey. “They’re well coached. You see a lot of similarities when people are well coached.
“Malik is a little more lively, a little bit more kid-like back there. DeShone is that cool, calm and collected jock quarterback.”
McGlinchey had no idea how Kelly would rotate or even if he’d let the rest of the offense in on the plan. And not knowing seems fine too. McGlinchey said if he didn’t need to turn around pre-snap to get checks that he could play without knowing who was actually in the game.
“I think it’s a testament to the character and the type of people that they are to kind of put their egos aside and do what’s better for the team,” McGlinchey said. “They’ve gotten behind that and they’re willing to do whatever they need to do for our football team to win.
“It’s a special thing that we have here to have two of the best quarterbacks in the country.”null