With the Texas Longhorns trending towards holding off on naming a starter at quarterback before the season opener, Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly said Wednesday that both of his contenders for the same job will play on September 4 in Austin.
"Both of their skill sets simply have slight differences, but both of them are playmakers," said Kelly. "If I list our top five playmakers, they're in it. My ultimate decision was I can’t put one of those guys on the sideline against Texas."
In fact, they might even play at the same time:
Would Brian Kelly consider putting both #NotreDame QBs on the field at the same time? "Yeah, I would. I would definitely consider it."— Brian Hamilton (@BrianHamiltonSI) August 17, 2016
So head coach Charlie Strong will have to prepare his Longhorns defense to face both senior Malik Zaire and junior DeShone Kizer in less than three weeks, though it didn’t seem like the quarterbacks were too happy about the decision by their head coach:
#NotreDame QB Malik Zaire on Brian Kelly's decision: "My whole goal is to turn chicken crap into chicken salad. We gotta make him right."— Brian Hamilton (@BrianHamiltonSI) August 17, 2016
Kizer was thought to be the favorite after starting the final 11 games of 2015 after Zaire went down with a season-ending injury against Virginia a week after defeating Texas.
The strong-armed junior goes 6’4 and 230 pounds and threw 21 touchdown passes while completing 63 percent of his passes last season.
Zaire is the better runner of the two 6’1 and 225 pounds — he had 87 yards rushing against the Cavaliers before suffering his injury. Against Texas, he was excellent from the pocket, completing 19-of-22 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns in the blowout in South Bend.
Both are excellent, but the bigger question mark is at wide receiver, where the Fighting Irish lost the top three targets from last season, as well as Corey Robinson to retirement and tight end Alize Jones to academics.