With five minutes to go, Malik Zaire had an opportunity to lead his team to a last second victory. It is the moment that every Quarterback relishes. The moment that every Quarterback dreams of. Zaire did not allow it to slip through his grasp.
The Senior Quarterback went 19-32 for 344 yards with 5 TDs. He added 91 yards on the ground with another 1 TD. Zaire totaled 435 yards. He created 80% of yards for his team and all of the touchdowns.
After hurdling a Fairmont defender, Zaire threw a perfectly placed ball to the back corner of the end zone, giving the Knights the lead and ultimately the victory. The final drive summarized the type of player that Zaire is. He is athletic, competitive, poised and an excellent passer. He will not disappoint Fighting Irish fans in 2013 and beyond.
The game against rival Fairmont tested Alter and Zaire equally. Coming into the contest, the margin of victory for Alter was expected to be great. However, after scoring quickly on their first drive, the Fairmont Firebirds made it clear that they were going to fight to the last second.
At 6’0” 196, Malik is not a physically imposing Quarterback. However, he is tremendously athletic. The play that stuck out in the game was the very play that kept the chains moving on Alter’s gaming winning drive, the hurdle. It seems like this play is seen more and more in football but each is equally impressive, especially from a Quarterback.
With 8:21 left in the game, the Knights were trailing 35-27. In that span, Zaire showed his competitive drive by leading two scoring drives, one capped by a two-point conversion. The Knights were playing from behind most of the game. Zaire truly willed his team on Friday night.
One thing that was really striking about Zaire was his poise in the pocket and in the game overall. It appeared as if the game came very easy to him. He sat calmly in the pocket and then ran when needed, always keeping his eyes down field. His play on the field is reminiscent of Everett Golson’s high school film.
Zaire was accurate overall throughout the night. Despite an interception and 13 incomplete passes, most passes were on target. The passes that fell incomplete were mainly drops. The interception, which can be seen on the video, hit off the receivers hands and then was intercepted by a Fairmont defender. There were only about two or three passes where Zaire completely missed his target.
Zaire could improve the accuracy, however. Some passes put his receivers in difficult positions. Despite his Receivers not coming down with the ball, Zaire still turned the ball over two times. Zaire failed to secure the ball one time He threw a ball that exposed the Receiver to getting hit and eventually tipped.
To improve as a Quarterback, Malik Zaire must become more of a student of the game. Zaire clearly has enough to be one of the best Quarterbacks in the country. He is as good or better than Notre Dame’s current Quarterback Everett Golson.