There is, unquestionably, no more talked about position on Notre Dame’s depth chart heading in the the Blue Gold Game than quarterback. With most of the ND faithfully divided into #TeamMalik or #TeamKizer, there is actually real potential for the QB situation to get sideways on Offensive Coordinator Mike Sanford and, ultimately, Coach Kelly.
Make no mistake: Every coach in the country would gladly take on the challenge of managing two high-level players at the most important position on the field. But just take the drive over to Columbus, Ohio and ask Urban Meyer about the stress of juggling two talented QBs.
With all of that, what should we be looking for during the Spring Game?
Kizer: Simply needs to hold serve (to mix sports metaphors). He has the skill set to be a really, really, high-level player in this offense. Red zone accuracy was certainly an issue last season that coaches will look to see improvement on, but those game scenarios, or in coach-speak “situational football,” don’t really bear out in the spring game. That said: If Kizer were to turn the ball over in the red zone facing no pressure, I’d be alarmed.
Zaire: It was precisely his running ability that made him such an alluring prospect last season – and the same running prowess that lead to his injury (though to be fair an ankle injury can happen just as easily on a drop-back). Zaire’s style of play will lead to a more dynamic, dual-threat, offense. Given that QBs will be protected from contact during the spring game, Zaire is going to have to prove that there is very little daylight between he and Kizer in terms of drop-back passing, reading defenses and at-the-line audibles. Again, to use coach-speak, “command of the offense.”
Wimbush: Showed great flashes last year, but Coach Kelly has already put red-shirting him on the table –– though he’s backed-off that a bit since spring practice started. Wimbush is the highest rated recruit on the depth chart. He’s showed his arm strength and mobility during live action. And he’s had a year to sit and learn the offense. Under different roster conditions, this would be a big spring for Wimbush. As it is, the talk of him competing is probably aimed at keeping him locked-in as Notre Dame’s future QB more than a reality for the upcoming season.
Book: signed late in this class, didn’t enroll early, and has very likely not progressed deep into the playbook at this point. The coaches are really high on Book as a pro style/drop back guy who’s a football savvy player more than an athlete (conjure images of Tommy Rees). Irish fans should plan on watching Book vigorously signal play calls in a red Under Armour hat this season.