There is little correlation between the Blue-Gold game and the regular season for several reasons. The game features a vanilla defense and match ups against second team defensive players. Therefore, the rejoicing over Zaire’s performance should be subdued. With that being said, the Quarterbacks did do several excellent things during the game that should not be overlooked.
Zaire completed 18 passes on 27 attempts (66.6%) for 292 yards and 2 touchdowns. Chris Brown’s 47 yard catch should immediately be subtracted from Zaire’s total. Zaire would have almost certainly been sacked on that. This leaves Zaire with 245 yards. This number is still very solid.
The Sophomore signal caller from Kettering, Ohio is occasionally indecisive. He will hold the ball too long. This lead to a few sacks on Saturday. When he did decide to rip it, he threw the ball with velocity and accuracy. Zaire plays with no fear. This lead to his excellent stats but it will also lead to turnovers in the future. On one play, he was nearly intercepted by Matthias Farley. He overcame the mistake with his raw ability to throw the ball with zip. Finally, Zaire showed that he can not only throw well rolling to his left but also his right.
Golson threw for 160 yards on 13 of 23 passing. Like Zaire, his total needs to be adjusted for sacks. His total would fall to 145 yards in a normal game setting. Golson was 6 of 13 for 98 yards and 1 interception in 2013. Those numbers should calm everyone who wants to jump off the Golson “bandwagon.”
The biggest issues for Golson were inaccuracy and indecisiveness. In many cases where he made the correct read, he would throw the ball in an uncatchable position. This lowered his completion percentage and ultimately his overall yardage.
Did Zaire’s performance in the Blue-Gold actually make a difference in the Quarterback race? If most people had to actually wager money on it, they would still select Golson to be the opening game starter. It is important to remember that the Blue-Gold game is just one of several spring practices. However, Zaire proved when the lights are on he can perform well. Did he vault Golson? No. But, he certainly made it closer.
Ultimately, this means Notre Dame has two viable options at Quarterback. Under Brian Kelly, Notre Dame has always played more than one Quarterback by design or necessity. Zaire will play at some point. Fans should be satisfied that he will better than Andrew Hendrix against USC in 2013.