Zaire believes he'll be Notre Dame's starting QB
Malik Zaire believes he will beat out Everett Golson to become Notre Dame's starting quarterback this fall.
"Without a doubt. There will only be one guy starting on Aug. 30th against Rice at Notre Dame Stadium, there will only be one guy out on the field, and I believe that will be me," he said.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly isn't ready to hand Zaire the job ahead of Everett Golson, who helped the Irish go 12-1 and get to the national championship game in 2012 before being suspended from school for the 2013 season. But Kelly also isn't ready to give the job to Golson either, saying it's an open competition.
Kelly believes the Irish will have a good line and skill players on offense this fall and the key for the upcoming season is developing a quarterback who can run the offense. Both Golson and Zaire give Notre Dame the running threat the Irish lacked last season under Tommy Rees.
"It's always about finding that consistency at that position. It's just going to take some time. I don't have a timetable on it. I'll know when it's running the right way and it's smooth. It's not there yet," Kelly said.
Despite his confidence, Zaire knows beating out Golson is a big challenge.
"It's always going to be an uphill battle dealing with a guy who's been there and done that with the game experience, it's always going to be an uphill battle," Zaire said.
If Zaire wins the job, he would become the first starting left-handed quarterback in Notre Dame history. Michael Bertsch, Notre Dame's director of football media relations, said a search of school records found the only left-handed quarterback who had played in a game for the Irish was Art Parisien, a backup under Knute Rockne who guided the Irish to the game-winning touchdown in a 13-12 victory over USC in 1926, the first meeting between the schools.
Zaire said being left-handed is just another obstacle.
"We always talk geared toward the right-handed quarterback. So I'm flipping my brain a lot," he said. "It's just an extra hurdle I jump through."
Zaire describes his relationship with Golson as "very competitive."
"We have our up and down days as competitors. You're not going to have the most peachy days, or whatever. But I respect him as a player. I respect him as a person. We don't have any issues on that standpoint," he said.
Kelly said it's not like in 2012, when Rees helped Golson learn the offense.
"Everett's not going to sit down and teach him the play book, but they like each other. They get along very well," he said. "These are two competitive kids. Malik wants to beat out Everett."
Kelly said he would even consider using a platoon system if he thought that would give the Irish their best chance of winning.
"I'd do anything to win. If I felt like if we got to August and that is where we were, I'm all in. I could handle that," he said. "I think the ideal situation is one."
Zaire is hoping he is the ideal one.
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