DeShone Kizer’s outstanding opening game effort against Texas apparently afforded him an opportunity that his sterling 2015 campaign and an entire off-season did not.
Sole occupancy of Notre Dame’s starting quarterback position.
“I had a conversation with Coach Kelly today and he decided that this week I was going to get the first snap for sure,” Kizer told reporters following Notre Dame’s practice Wednesday evening. “He kind of congratulated me on fighting through the process and encouraged me to maintain the same mindset and just ensured me that I’d be the guy on Saturday.”
Asked if he’d be “the only guy,” rather than as part of a rotation with backup Malik Zaire, Kizer offered, “As of now I’m expecting to be the only guy. We’ll see how the game goes. Obviously Malik is an amazing athlete and there will come a time when you’re definitely going to see him on the field, I believe.
“That hasn’t really been talked about. (Kelly) told me to prepare to be the starter on Saturday and that’s what I plan to do.”
Kizer threw five touchdown passes and ran for another in Sunday’s upset loss at Texas. Zaire struggled in limited action (17 snaps), picking up a pair of first downs for the offense but failing to breech the Longhorns 40-yard line in the process.
Now a veteran of a dozen starts, Kizer believes the extended quarterback duel benefits him as a competitor.
“In the last eight months I’ve learned a lot about myself as a quarterback,” he said. “As a leader, as a teammate. And from that I think I’ve developed into someone that I wanted to be for this season.
“Malik really challenged me and he will continue to challenge me,” Kizer continue. “I’m grateful for the situation. It helped me develop into a guy that’s willing to compete play-by-play. Really taught me how a great quarterback has to be rep focused rather than on the guy in front of him, the play in front of him, or the play behind him.”
Kizer has accounted for 37 total touchdowns (passing/rushing) in 12 starts plus his now famous emergency action at Virginia last September 12.
Notre Dame has been installed as a 28-point favorite against the visiting Wolf Pack this Saturday.