A quarterback competition is nothing new when you’re talking about almost any Division I college football team, and Notre Dame is no different. When it comes to Everett Golson, the camp is pretty well divided. You either really love him, or you really don’t. Will he stay for his final year at ND? Or will he graduate in the spring and do a grad school transfer to another school and finish his career elsewhere? And Malik Zaire, he most definitely has something big to prove. Does he have what it takes to win the starting quarterback job? Or will he yet again take a back seat to Golson? I’m sure the performances of both of these young men will influence not only the decisions that coach Brian Kelly has to make, but also the decisions that Golson will have to make. So how did they do on Saturday? Let’s have a look!
Golson was the first man out. He looked very relaxed and completely in control of his offense. In the opening drive, his zone read execution looked much cleaner than what we saw last year. His first drive ended with him making a three yard run into the end zone for a touchdown.
Zaire came out in a big way. His first play out of the box was a long pass. It was not caught, but it made a big statement. While the majority of Golson’s first drive consisted of running plays, Zaire did a great job at showcasing all of his skills and mixing in running and passing plays. His first series ended up in a 29 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Justin Brent. And then in the second quarter Zaire highlighted his arm strength yet again with a long bomb to Will Fuller which resulted in another touchdown for the competing quarterback.
At half time, this is how our two quarterbacks stacked up against each other:
Golson: 6/12 completions, 78 yards passing, 30 yards rushing, 1 touchdown.
Zaire: 7/12 completions, 112 yards passing, 30 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns.
From an execution standpoint Golson was cleaner than Zaire. He reads were much more decisive than they have been in the past, and he had a good handle as to when he should run with the ball and when he should hand it off.
Zaire seems to be a little bit helter skelter at times, but he continues to make big plays. He has the big arm. He can make the big throws. He is an exceptional athlete. When those lights go on he is at his best.
Some comments from head coach Brian Kelly:
“Yeah, we keep working on each individual and where they need to continue to grow individually, and then the decision on playing time will take care of itself. They can’t control that. All they can control is what’s in their purview and that is the fundamentals of what we’ve asked them to work on, and the rest they can’t really worry about, it’s not their call.”
” I think with Malik, he has a tendency to hold back on his left side. So some of them are fundamentals, which are coming and working with him, and he’s got to do a lot of that work in May and June as well. But he’s made great progress in his mechanics and delivery, and he’ll continue to work on that. So we saw improvement from the spring day 1 to day 14, and I think we’ll continue to see that as he goes through the summer.”
What do the two quarterbacks need to work on?
” …game management situation with Everett, consistency and efficiency with his read option game we’ve got to continue to work on. I thought he ran the ball effectively and efficiently today. He ran with his pads down. He made good decisions of turning it up and stepping out-of-bounds when he needed to. Those two things in particular. Game management, I thought he worked in the pocket well, stepped up, when he had nothing he took off, and then again, I think the read option game. Those things he’s got to continue to work on.”
“And Malik, it’s really about his consistency in all the things that he does. He does some things so well and then there’ll be a couple things that are not consistent. He’ll do it so well in the same play, then there’s a dropoff. So we think that’s more concentration, that’s just more focus and just working on those things with him.”
Is there a clear winner here? I’m not so sure. Who gets the start in the fall? I think this battle will go right up until game time on Saturday, September 5th.
And in the words of Malik Zaire, “At the end of the day, there can only be one Jack Sparrow.”
Did you miss the game? Here are some highlights for ya!
Cheers & GO IRISH!