Notre Dame football: Give Kizer the keys to the offense

DeShone Kizer needs to start for Notre Dame at quarterback, and Brian Kelly has to accept that if the Irish are to right the ship after Texas.

Notre Dame entered the spring with a huge question mark at the quarterback position, and rightfully so. That question was answered in Sunday night’s loss in Austin, Texas. If Notre Dame is going to be successful, DeShone Kizer needs to be named the full-time starting quarterback.

Earlier this summer, I made the case for Kizer to be the guy. I truthfully did not think there was a wrong decision in naming either Kizer or Malik Zaire the starting quarterback. The bigger issue for me was not naming a quarterback as the starter, which is exactly what happened. As the old saying goes, ‘If you have two quarterbacks, you have none.’

Head coach Brian Kelly decided to use of the two-quarterback system, and the execution of it flopped. No way around it.

After the Irish’s 50-47 double overtime loss, Kelly declined to name either quarterback the starter moving forward, which is completely understandable. Before you jump at me all at once, let me clarify what I mean by completely understandable.

The thinking that someone other than Kizer should start at quarterback against Nevada next Saturday does seem a little crazy, but in the same breath naming him as such roughly 20 minutes after a heartbreaking loss might seem a little crazy. That decision should come early this week, potentially Tuesday.

Sep 4, 2016; Austin, TX, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer (14) throws the ball against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

I personally did not spend time all summer in South Bend watching all of the throws made by both Kizer and Zaire. I have to take Kelly’s word that the two were neck and neck, and he couldn’t name a true starter. In the short time Zaire was on the field last season, he did show flashes of brilliance, there is no disputing that. It was fair to give him an opportunity. The downside to all of this is that giving Zaire an opportunity may have cost Notre Dame this game.

It begs the question of how the game would have been different if Kizer was the guy instead of rotating between the two of them until the third quarter. If Kizer had been able to develop some type of rhythm in the first half, how would things have changed?

Obviously, we will never know the answer to that question, but it’s one that many Notre Dame fans have in the days following a tough road loss.

While Kizer was one the field, the Irish offense looked as it had for much of last season. He was able to orchestrate six touchdown drives as well as an overtime field goal. Notre Dame’s offense totaled 47 points with Kizer at the helm and zero with Zaire leading the unit. Zaire wasn’t given the opportunity to gather any rhythm, but then again, neither was Kizer in the first half.

Sep 4, 2016; Austin, TX, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (6) flips into the end zone for a touchdown in front of Texas Longhorns safety Dylan Haines (14) in the second quarter at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame’s offense is filled with firepower and weaponry able to score on the best defensive units in the country, and they respond best to Kizer running that ship. The game against Texas also served as a coming out party for guys such as Equanimeous St. Brown and CJ Sanders, both of whom played sparingly on offense last year.

St. Brown has been tasked with stepping into the role left vacated by first round draft pick Will Fuller and did so admirably in week one. Sanders very well may be one of the most exciting players with the ball in space in the country and arguably the most exciting Irish player in space since Rocket Ishmail.

St. Brown finished the night with five receptions for 75 yards and two scores. Sanders had three grabs for 55 yards and a score in overtime. He also had two punt returns for 51 yard and four kick returns for 75 yards totaling 181 all purpose yards.

It is also worth noting that the loss of Torii Hunter Jr. was detrimental to the offense late in the game against the Longhorns.

Notre Dame will without a doubt bounce back from this tough loss. Bouncing back starts with naming Kizer the starting quarterback and letting the offense start to roll

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