Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly had to make a call as to who would be the Fighting Irish’s starting quarterback. In the end, he went with the guy who led the team to its last nine victories in 2015.
Junior DeShone Kizer proved last fall that he could handle the reins under center for the Irish, and so far this season, he’s justified his coaches’ faith in him with seven touchdown passes against just one interception, along with 371 passing yards, 112 rushing yards, and two ground scores through the first two games.
Though the Irish lost a heartbreaker in double overtime to Texas, it can’t really be blamed on Kizer, who led the Irish to 47 points, along with five passing touchdown and a rushing score.
Kizer has been very accurate thus far, particularly against Nevada. Despite his throwing his first pick of this season, Kizer completed all but three of his 18 attempts for 156 yards and a pair of scores. He could have done more had he not been taken out in the second half.
This came after he completed nearly two-thirds of his attempts against the Longhorns.
After getting sacked 23 times last season, Kizer was sacked just twice against Texas and Nevada. That bodes well for the junior if he can make his reads freely in the pocket, along with locating the occasional running lane without consistent pressure.
Malik Zaire, who also competed for the starting job in preseason practice, saw action in the Texas and Nevada games, combining to complete 6-of-14 passes. While Kizer proved enough against Texas to be named the starter after Week 1, it’s a positive for Kelly and the Irish coaches to know they’ve got Zaire waiting in the wings in case Kizer is sidelined.
For Kizer, particularly with tough upcoming games on the horizon including Michigan State, Stanford and Miami, the key is going to be continuing to accurately hit his targets, avoid turnovers and keep opposing defenses honest with his legs.