For the last five months, Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame coaching staff have been trying to determine whether DeShone Kizer or Malik Zaire should be the starting quarterback.
On Wednesday, Kelly revealed the answer. Kind of.
According to Chris Goff of the Journal Gazette, the seventh-year head coach said both Kizer and Zaire will play against Texas in the season opener on Sunday, Sep. 4.
Kelly previously said he anticipated making a judgment call, per Evan Sharpley of 247Sports. However, the competition was too even. Kelly said in 257 combined reps, Kizer and Zaire tossed a total of two interceptions, per ESPN’s Matt Fortuna.
Most interestingly, though, Kelly didn’t rule out the possibility of both Kizer and Zaire being on the field at the same time.
That idea might shift imaginations into overdrive.
Kelly said he doesn’t know how Notre Dame would utilize both players, which could be true. Has he sat down with associate head coach and wide receivers coach Mike Denbrock and offensive coordinator and QB coach Mike Sanford to discuss it? Perhaps not. However, if Kelly is considering the notion, his mind assuredly has started brainstorming.
The simple answer is keeping one player behind center and sending the other out wide. Since both Kizer and Zaire are mobile talents, it makes sense for either one to remain in the backfield.
However, in this case, opponents will immediately watch for a backwards pass akin to what the New England Patriots executed against the Baltimore Ravens in the 2014-15 AFC divisional round. If this happens, somebody in the secondary fell asleep badly.
Yes, Julian Edelman has only played wide receiver in the NFL after being a quarterback at Kent State, so there is a difference.
Several offenses have experimented with using two quarterbacks. Northwestern had both Trevor Siemian and Kain Colter on the field, then Ohio State found roles for Cardale Jones, J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller. But in those cases, one player essentially (or flat-out) switched to wide receiver.
Notre Dame can be more creative than that anyway, and the 2012 Louisiana-Monroe offense might provide one twist.
Not only were both Kolton Browning and Cody Wells on the field for the Warhawks, they shared the backfield. The wrinkle resulted in a pair of consecutive first downs and forced Baylor to call a timeout.
The Irish absolutely could implement the unique style since Kizer and Zaire are familiar running zone-read calls.
Zaire would have no trouble taking a handoff, running laterally and deciding whether to run or whip a short pass. That’s basically what his strength is anyway. Zaire’s choice here is the result of the defender picking to stay in coverage or attack the ball.
And if the initial read commits to Zaire, Kizer‘s role is simple: run. The sophomore has proved he’s dangerous with his legs after recording 17 gains of 10 or more yards—most notably a 79-yard touchdown scamper against Temple (seen at the 39-second mark of the accompanying video).
Granted, Notre Dame certainly won’t rely on the two-quarterback-at-once twist, and there’s no guarantee Kelly sends out both Kizer and Zaire at any point during the season.
The Irish could alternate between them early on, find a starter and stick with him alone throughout the 2016 campaign.
But until Kelly says otherwise, the thought of Kizer and Zaire sharing the field can create another headache for defensive coordinators while preparing for Notre Dame.
All recruiting information via 247Sports. Stats from cfbstats.com or B/R research. Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.
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Source: Bleacher Report-CFB News