Notre Dame Football: Going All in on Malik Zaire


All-in on Zaire, but is there any other option?

The reigns have been firmly placed in the hands of Notre Dame sophomore

Malik Zaire

. Well, they were at least tossed to him as former starter

Everett Golson

decided to transfer to Florida State for his final season. In Golson’s first season, Kelly said he was simply “riding the bus”, and didn’t get the keys till the following season. Reigns. Keys. Whatever it is, they’re Zaire’s.

The dual-threat signal caller hasn’t had the chance to prove himself on the field often in game situations, but the Music City Bowl against LSU–a stout SEC defense–gave Kelly as well as the fans faith that Zaire could take over the offense. The possibility of a transfer wasn’t talked about then, so this was simply the belief that he could beat out Golson. And it’s possible he had done just that, but Kelly wasn’t going to give Golson any reason to leave–but he decided to take his talents elsewhere anyhow.

So we’re all in on the Malik Zaire era. And let me preface it by saying I’m in too..but do we really have a choice? DeShone Kizer didn’t look bad in the Blue/Gold game, but that’s not the same as the schedule the Fighting Irish will play. And incoming Brandon Wimbush has remarkable talent, but we have yet to see what he can bring to the table until this fall. So we really can’t NOT be all-in.

The good news is, where Golson had a stellar defense to lead that 2012 team, Zaire is going to have weapons around him on offense, while the defense does come in healthy and ready to prove last year an anomaly and not the norm. But it’s the firepower that may give him the best chance at success.

The offensive line could be the best the Irish have had in many years, with seniors Ronnie Stanley and Nick Martin leading the way. The frontline will be blocking for an absolute plethora of talented backs that will add Dexter Williams this fall. C.J. Prosise made the move from the defensive side and has done nothing but wow coaches with his ability. And that’s with Tarean Folston and Greg Bryant currently ahead of them on the depth chart. The running back unit is deep and appears to be the strength of the offense paired up with the o-line.

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The wide receiver corp will provide Zaire an array of options. Big, small, fast. You name it, it’s available. Will Fuller had a breakout 2014, and Corey Robinson made a name for himself. Speedster Chris Brown will provide a deep option–and we’ve seen Zaire’s arm is more than capable–while Amir Carlisle has found his niche in the slot receiver spot.

One place the Irish are a little “unsure” is the tight end spot. And if their history is any indication, something great will come from this group. Junior Durham Smythe is the man as of right now, with Alize Jones to join this fall. Many believe Jones can earn the job if given the opportunity, so that will be interesting to keep an eye on.

This offensive unit should only become more cohesive in the coming months. Zaire believed he was going to win the job last spring and didn’t shy away from telling people that. This year he took a more tactical approach, but there’s no doubt he believed the same this year. Now this offense is his, and if the Irish are to become part of the College Football Playoff conversation, it will be on the arm–and feet–of Zaire.

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