Notre Dame Football: Malik Zaire Can Lead Irish Return to BCS If Given Chance

Mike HoagCorrespondent IIMay 29, 2013

Apr 20, 2013; Notre Dame, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Malik Zaire (8) slides in the third quarter of the Blue-Gold Game at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s face it; Everett Golson was an inhibiting factor on the success of the 2012 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football program.

Sure, with experience he could have improved and helped boost the team’s offensive unit that was abysmal at times a season ago—especially against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the BCS title game.

The Irish were also just 54th in the nation in total offense (412.2 YPG) and 72nd in total passing (222.8 YPG) a season ago. Those numbers are incredibly poor for a Brian Kelly-led offense. Kelly’s high-octane 2009 Cincinnati Bearcats were ninth in the country with 447.5 yards per game; 316.3 (ninth in the nation) of those yards came through the air each game.

That, more than anything, is why recent news of Golson’s dis-enrollment for the 2013 fall semester isn’t the end of the world for the program.

Let’s not pretend that the quarterback was already something that he obviously was not. The initial sting hurts, but it isn’t something Kelly and his team can’t overcome this season. Luckily the violation was announced early enough for the coach to make adjustments and plan for life without his pegged starting quarterback.

With last year's starter gone, three players have been named as competitors for the coveted starting job, according WNDU's Angelo Di Carlo (via Twitter):

Freshman Malik Zaire has the most upside of the three. Widely believed to be slotted for a redshirt during his freshman season, Zaire could bypass that route altogether if the coaching staff deems him ready to see the field this season.

He was an early enrollee this spring, giving him a significant amount of work already under his belt. That will only benefit him as he prepares to embark on his collegiate career in South Bend.

Not just a strong passer, Zaire is also a tremendous athlete who 247Sports ranked as a 4-star recruit coming out of high school. Bleacher Report’s Full Ride crew compared the freshman to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson due to his ability to beat defenses efficiently with both his arm and legs.

Zaire may not start the season behind center for the Fighting Irish, but he should unquestionably be factored into the equation for Kelly’s team.

If he can step into the breach and contribute in 2013, Kelly will be able to incorporate many of the aspects of the offense that he already had installed under the assumption Golson would be behind center.


All stats used in the preceding content were obtained from ESPN unless noted otherwise.