In the third rendition of 16 predictions for the 2016 Notre Dame football season, I will dive in to how Brian Kelly will find a way to utilize the services of both DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire
Prediction #3: Dual Threat Quarterbacks
We haven’t even made it to fall camp and the Notre Dame quarterback competition is already being put under the microscope. We all know how well Kizer did last season after he stepped in week 2. Also, we all know how talented and competitive Zaire is. Ultimately, Kelly has what most would call a good problem to have. Two talented and experienced quarterbacks at his disposal. Because of this, Kelly will come up with packages to get both on the field.
Recently, I expressed how Kizer should be the starting quarterback. He performed at a high level all year long in 2015. Kizer stepped up in the clutch time and time again leading the Irish to 10 wins and a New Year Six bowl game. He has the perfect demeanor that you want from your starting quarterback. He never gets too high when everything is going well and never gets too low when adversity hits. He played too well not to be awarded the starting job. Look for Kizer to be the starter and get most of the playing time.
With that being said, Zaire is way too talented to have him rotting away on the bench. If there was one thing Kizer struggled at last year it was red zone offense. The Irish ranked just 88th in the country last year in red zone conversion rate. I would not be surprised one bit if Kelly has Zaire featured in some red zone packages, much like what Urban Meyer did at Ohio State with J.T. Barrett last season before he retook the starting job from Cardale Jones. Zaire could be lethal in the red zone with his ability to run and pass the ball. Not that Kizer doesn’t have these abilities, but because Zaire is a better runner than Kizer I think that is where he could be a little tougher to scheme against.
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Kelly already has a history of playing two quarterbacks. In his final year at Cincinnati he had Tony Pike and Zack Collaros and found a way to get both in the game. Pike received most of the snaps because he earned the job, but Collaros still found his way on to the field because he was that talented. Oh, and Cincinnati went on to go 12-0 that year. Sounds pretty similar to what Kelly has on his hands right now. Both quarterbacks will play this season, but one will play just a little more than the other.