Notre Dame spring storylines: The quarterback 'battle'

Notre Dame spring storylines: The quarterback 'battle'
February 25, 2014, 10:30 am
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JJ Stankevitz

Everett Golson won't be handed back the job he relinquished when he was expelled from Notre Dame for 2013's fall semester. But while Malik Zaire may prove to be a worth challenger for the starting quarterback gig, Golson should emerge in April as the unquestioned leader of Notre Dame's offense.

Notre Dame will give Golson and Zaire a chance to work with new quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur before making any far-reaching decision on who takes the field Aug. 30 against Rice.

[Notre Dame spring storylines: Golson gets acquainted with WRs]

"I know we're always in this rush to move to Everett, but I just want to caution everybody that we have, I think a very good quarterback in Malik Zaire as well," coach Brian Kelly said in January. "And I'm not ready to hand everything over to Everett." 

It's entirely fair to give both quarterbacks a fair shot -- it's just spring practice, after all. Both guys are the kind of dynamic playmakers Kelly wants in his offense, though Golson has experience quarterbacking a team that played for a national championship. And he's made big plays on big stages before -- see his 50-yard bomb to Chris Brown at Oklahoma, or his last-ditch comeback efforts a week later in 2012 against Pittsburgh.

It'd be tough for a couple of weeks of practice to erase all that Golson did two falls ago. But there's still an unknown with Golson returning, since he hasn't played competitive football since January of 2013.

[Notre Dame spring preview: Will talent shine through at RB?]

All the reports on Golson were positive, from his workouts with quarterback guru George Whitfield in San Diego to the added weight he's put on his frame. But 2013 was supposed to be Golson's breakout year after being eased into the starting role in 2012. That timeline has since been thrown off by Golson's exile from campus.

We'll likely see some sort of split between Golson and Zaire for first team reps this spring, perhaps a 70-30 share. That doesn't constitute much of a quarterback competition, but at the least it'll prevent Golson from getting too comfortable as he re-claims his top spot.