Malik Zaire proves Kelly's point in Notre Dame spring game

Malik Zaire proves Kelly's point in Notre Dame spring game
April 13, 2014, 2:45 pm
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While it'd still be a surprise if Everett Golson isn't starting for Notre Dame Aug. 30 against Rice, Malik Zaire's excellent showing in Saturday's Blue-Gold scrimmage may have made the decision a little more difficult for coach Brian Kelly this summer.

That's because what Zaire did -- a confident 18 completions in 27 attempts, 292 yards, two touchdowns -- reinforced a belief Kelly articulated in January: When Zaire is placed into game action, he's a lot better than he may look in practice.

"When we get into game situations he makes plays," Kelly said. "Practice sometimes, you know, he tends to be a little mechanical and makes some mistakes that you wished he didn't make over, but when the lights go on ‑‑ I know that's an overused phrase -- but when he gets into competitive situations, he makes plays."

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At the time, Kelly based that off Zaire's showing in 2013's spring game, in which he completed five of eight passes and threw the game's only touchdown. 2014's showing was on a far larger scale in terms of reps, and it certainly was an encouraging development given the off-and-on struggles Zaire had this spring.

Zaire won't win the starting quarterback job based on two solid showings in glorified scrimmages -- especially since Golson has all that experience from the 2012 season. And after all, Zaire has yet to take a snap in a game that counts at the college level. But Kelly's belief in Zaire's gameday ability may remove that hurdle from the No. 1 quarterback race.