Sep 5, 2015; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Malik Zaire (8) runs the ball as Texas Longhorns defensive end Naashon Hughes (40) pursues in the second quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Malik Zaire made his first start since the Music City Bowl last season, and all the hype surrounding the junior in the off-season lived up to expectations. He completed 19 of 22 passes and became the fifth quarterback in Notre Dame history to throw for over 300 yards in a season home opener. It’s hard not to have such a good game when the offensive line and running back group played so well. Zaire didn’t need to make any game-changing plays. He didn’t need to force any passes or tap into a hero complex. He did what he was asked to do, and he did it with ease.
On the rare occasion that a play broke down, Zaire did an excellent job of avoiding the pressure and finding a receiver down the field. Based on just this performance he deserves nothing less than an A, but we still have yet to see how he’ll perform in a contest where the offensive line struggles or where the defense can’t keep the opposing offense out of the end zone. I don’t think we’ll really get to see what Zaire is all about until Georgia Tech comes to South Bend.
There’s not a whole lot to complain about when watching the tape on Saturday’s game, and that’s something I would like to be able to say every week, but we know that’s not going to be the case. It was a great win, but the real evaluations won’t take place until Notre Dame plays a team that can actually compete. Texas is in for a complete overhaul, and it showed on Saturday with how poorly they performed on both sides of the ball. But for now, we’ll celebrate the victory over a storied program in Texas and look forward to this weekend when Notre Dame travels to Virginia to take on the Cavaliers.