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."
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.