September 3, 2016. Darrell K. Royal Stadium. Austin, Texas. A Quarterback walks on to the field in 91-degree heat. The question is, what number is the signal caller wearing? 14 or 8 (maybe even 12)?
Although 9 months still remain until this question needs to be answered, it is extremely intriguing. When Malik Zaire went down with ankle injury against Virginia, many assumed that he would return when his ankle healed. But, the recent play of DeShone Kizer begs the question; what will Brian Kelly do next fall?
Undoubtedly, Kelly will create another Quarterback competition to ensure both Quarterbacks remain in South Bend. It is unlikely that either would depart anyway. Zaire would be able to graduate in the spring of 2017. Kizer would be forced to sit out a year anyway.
How do these players stack up statistically? Both players are playing at an extremely high rate. In one and a half games, Zaire averaged 214 passing yards, 51.5 rushing yards and 2 total touchdowns. In 7 games as Notre Dame’s starter, Kizer averaged 262.7 passing yards, 44 rushing yards and 2.86 total touchdowns.
Kizer slightly edges out Zaire in all purpose yards by 41.2 yards (306.7 to 265.5).
With Zaire as the starter, the Irish averaged 493.5 yards and 36 points per contest. With Kizer, Notre Dame averaged 487 yards and 37.4 points per game.
There is not a significant difference between the two Quarterbacks. Strangely, Kizer actually has more experience than Zaire. Kizer has made appearances in 9 games. Zaire has made appearances in 9 games. But, Kizer has 7 starts under his belt while Zaire has made only 2.
Thus, Brian Kelly has an extremely difficult decision. Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer faced the same decision. Based on Ohio State’s performance so far, Meyer made the wrong decision in starting Cardale Jones initially.
It is extremely important that Brian Kelly make the correct decision with another potential playoff contender in 2016. Kizer’s performance the rest of the season will be important. If Notre Dame does land in the final four, how can you remove the more experienced and more accomplished Kizer? As much as this Kettering, Ohio native wants to see the Kettering Alter Quarterback succeed, Kelly has no other choice but to start Kizer in 2016 barring any significant down turn in his play.