Kizer told he will start at quarterback for the Irish vs Nevada


DeShone Kizer has been told he will be the starting quarterback for Notre Dame when they take on Nevada Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.

“I had a conversation with Coach Kelly today and he decided that this week I will get the first snap for sure and kind of congratulated me getting through the process and encouraged me to maintain the same mindset and assured me that I would be the guy on Saturday,” Kizer said Wednesday night after practice.

Kizer beats out senior Malik Zaire for the starting job. Zaire began 2015 as Notre Dame’s starting quarterback but fracture his ankle in the 2nd game of the season. That’s when Kizer took over leading the Irish to a 10-3 season and a trip to the Fiesta Bowl. The two have been in a big competition since.

Kizer outplayed Zaire in the season opening double overtime loss to Texas. Zaire was just 2-of-5 passing for 23 yards and no touchdowns in four drives of work. Kizer meanwhile was 15-of-24 for 215 yards, throwing five touchdowns and rushing for a 6th. The two quarterbacks rotated every other series for most of the 1st half, but that won’t be the case Saturday.

“As of now I’m expected to be the only guy,” Kizer said. “The conversation was more to let me know i will be the guy. We’ll see how the game goes, obviously Malik is an amazing athlete and there’s going to come a time where you definitely will see him on the field I believe. That hasn’t been talked about too much. All he told me is to be prepared to be the starter on Saturday.”

Kizer says it means a lot to win the starting job after an 8 month battle with Zaire.

“I’ve learned quite a bit about myself as a quarterback, as a leader, as a teammate,” Kizer said. “I think I’ve definitely developed into someone I wanted to be for the season. Malik really challenged me and he will continue to challenge me. I’m really grateful for the situation because I think it really helped me to develop into a guy who’s willing to go out and compete play by play, really taught me how a great quarterback needs to be and really rep focus rather than the guy in front of them, or the play in front of or behind them.”

At the same time, Kizer says it’s a big benefit knowing that he will be able to get more into a groove and not have to rotate with Zaire.

“It definitely helps when it comes to your mindset out there and you’re getting the reps with the ones and with the guys who will be playing but at the same time I plan on approaching it the same way,” Kizer explains. “We had a really good off-season with the quarterback situation the way it was and we were able to create an identity as a team with other guys stepping up as leaders so a lot of those guys are going to continue to be the guys that they were and try to adjust when it comes to leadership style. I’ll continue to build off of that and place myself back to where I was at this time last year.”

Kizer says he expects Zaire to be heavily involved with the direction of the team moving forward despite not being the starter.

“There’s one quarterback now but there’s still two leaders,” Kizer said. “We’re still going to lead the exact same way. Malik doesn’t fall off the face of the earth, he’s a huge component to this team and he’s going to go out and lead the same way and I expect him to. I will fully allow him to step in and say the things he needs to say because he understands this offense as much as I have. His experience and his ability to lead is something that this offense needs and that this team needs. It’s kind of my duty to allow him to be that guy and to share his experiences and from there I’ll kind of fall in and continue to do what we’re doing. We had something good going when it came to our identity and how the leaders were going to lead this year and I’m not going to adjust because of a different way of going out there with one guy.”

Notre Dame and Nevada is a 3:42pm kickoff Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium in the home opener for the Irish. Countdown to Kickoff gets you started at 2pm on WNDU.

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