SOUTH BEND, Ind. — While speaking to the media for the first time at Notre Dame, quarterback Malik Zaire pounded his chest a bit and said he believes he'll start for the Irish Aug. 30 against Rice.
Zaire also acknowledged he has an uphill battle, given Everett Golson has the cache of quarterbacking Notre Dame to the 2013 BCS title game. Still, Zaire's attitude and confidence were praised by quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur, and Golson didn't seemed too miffed by it either.
"I think maybe in the media he maybe shows it a little bit more," Golson said. "But I think all those guys going back to Tommy Rees and Andrew (Hendrix), I think all those guys had that confidence. I think Malik expresses it a little bit more but that's him."
That's not to say Golson and Zaire have a bad relationship — Golson said Friday that his relationship with Zaire "has been great." But it's a different relationship than he had with Rees, one that wasn't defined by outward competitiveness but by somewhat of a student/teacher setup.
The dynamic in Notre Dame's quarterback room is different this spring, with a dedicated coach in LaFleur replacing Rees as the go-to guy for knowledge and advice. Golson and Zaire still help each other, though, and Golson said in that manner things haven't changed too much.
"I think it hasn't been any different of what we expect out of the quarterback room," Golson said, "and that's to compete but also do it with the intent of helping each other and pushing each other to be better."
While Brian Kelly and LaFleur haven't tabbed Golson as the team's starter just yet, it'd be a surprise if he weren't starting when the Irish open the season in August. But until a starting quarterback is named, Zaire's going to keep pushing Golson — and Golson's certainly okay with that.
"It’s competitive but at the same time it’s not about showing any animosity toward one another," Golson said. "It’s all about helping each other and being competitive at the same time."