Former Notre Dame quarterback and FS1 analyst Brady Quinn joined Bruce Feldman on The Audible podcast to discuss the quarterback competition at his alma mater. In sitting down with Feldman, Quinn discussed his choice for the Notre Dame quarterback position.
Quinn chose to side with last year’s game one starter, Malik Zaire, in lieu of his eventual replacement, Deshone Kizer.
Much of Quinn’s decision has to do with seniority. Zaire can graduate in the spring, but still has a year of eligibility left. Under the graduate transfer rule, this would give him the ability to transfer without sitting out a season. Giving Zaire the nod to start this season would likely eliminate this as a possibility.
According to Quinn, if Zaire gets the nod to start the season, the Irish will be better suited in the long-run. Should Zaire falter, Kizer would replace him, much like he was able to do last season. Zaire would then be free to transfer with no hard feelings and the Irish would move on with Kizer as the starter.
However, should the Irish start Kizer on opening weekend, there is greater chance of instability at the position. Should Kizer falter, Zaire would undoubtedly replace him. Zaire potentially could feel slighted enough to transfer at season’s end if he is not given the job to start the season. This would leave the Irish with a shaky Kizer and an inexperienced Brandon Wimbush to start 2017.
Whatever the decision is, Quinn highlighted the importance of making a decision early in the process. Quinn’s “X-factor” is the fact that Zaire is left-handed and Kizer is right-handed. According to Quinn, “Your entire team has to adjust to a different spin of the football and the fact that the plays are going to be formatted a different way. Teams are going to attack you differently based on the arm of your quarterback.”
Quinn certainly has valid points. One idea that seems to be conventional wisdom is the desire to name a starter sooner rather than later. Zaire seems to be the safe choice, while giving the Irish the most flexibility going forward.
Many will argue that the experience factor gives Kizer an edge. One must consider if that argument matters, given the number of players the Irish are replacing from last year’s team. Neither Zaire nor Kizer gives the offense much as far as chemistry with returning players is concerned. Of the many newcomers, many will come at the wide receiver position. Whoever wins the starting job will need to develop chemistry with a nearly-brand-new group of receivers.
One area of optimism carrying over from last season is the emergence of the running game. Even with the injury to Tarean Folston, the Irish were able to plug in ball-carriers with great success. Folston will return from injury and will split carries with promising sophomore back Josh Adams. The Irish may need to lean on their running game while the passing game develops continuity.
Zaire is the better of the two runners and can add an element to the running game that Kizer cannot. For Brian Kelly, the best decision may be to go with Malik Zaire to start the season.