No Notre Dame Quarterback Decision Until Summer

Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire

In one of the least surprising statements Brian Kelly has made all spring, the Notre Dame head coach announced on Wednesday that there will be no decision on the starting quarterback for Notre Dame until the summer.  Not only should no one be surprised, but no one should be upset either – it’s the right call.

“They’ll continue to compete into August.  No Question,” Kelly said on Wednesday when asked if the competition would wage on through the summer.

Before the spring, most felt that there was no way Kelly would name a starting quarterback before the end of spring in order to keep both Everett Golson and Malik Zaire on campus – especially since Golson was linked to transfer rumors shortly after the season concluded.  So from that perspective, Kelly’s statement on Wednesday makes sense.  It’s about more than just making sense though.

After the way Everett Golson melted down in the second half of 2014, there is really no way that Kelly could anoint Golson the starter again even if the rising 5th year senior wouldn’t have missed a single throw all spring or made a single mistake.  After all those turnovers, Kelly and new offensive coordinator Mike Sanford need to be absolutely sure those mistakes are out of Golson’s system if he is to be the starter in 2015.  Those kind of mistakes aren’t erased in 15 spring practices.

For Malik Zaire, the rising junior has just one career start under his belt and even though he was impressive running the football in that start, he didn’t exactly show that he could stretch a defense in that Music City Bowl victory over LSU.   Just like Kelly and Sanford need to be sure that Golson has moved on from his turnover prone ways, they need to be equally certain that Zaire is indeed an improvement over Golson and can run the entire offense if he is to unseat Golson full time in 2015.

As for where the competition stands right now, it sounds like both signal callers are doing everything they can to stake their claim to the position.   “I would say it’s been healthy in that both of them come to meetings engaged,” said Kelly.  “They’re doing things that carry over what they’re being taught in the meetings, and that carryover I’m seeing on the practice fields.  That’s healthy,” he added.

“Today Everett had a great day in the pocket,” Kelly said of his opening day starter a year ago.  “His feet were settled.  He was calm.  He was protecting the football.  The things that were flaws for him and problems last year.  Joe Theisman was there today and I don’t want to put words in Joe’s mouth but in our conversation you would not think that that was an issue at all last year in Joe’s eyes looking at Everett today.”

As for Zaire, “Malik was throwing the ball accurate and on time today,” said Kelly.

For both quarterbacks, it’s been about working on the areas where they need to win over to coaching staff to force the hand of the staff to start them.  “The areas where we really asked them to improve on, both of them were on their game today.  I think that’s healthy competition,” said Kelly.

In the practice video released by WatchND on Wednesday, both quarterbacks looked sharp in the very limited footage.  Golson showed off the cannon arm we all know he has and Zaire showed nice touch on a deep ball that he placed perfectly in Will Fuller’s hands over the defense.  Both will need to continue to show those characteristics over the final five practices of spring practice and into fall camp to lock down the position.

It will be interesting to see how the reps this weekend when the media is allowed access to the entire practice and even more so how they are split next weekend when the Blue Gold Game airs on NBC Sports Network.

Unlike past seasons though when Kelly refused to name a starter in spring practice even when everyone knew who it would inevitably be, this year the competition is still very much in the air and just as expected when the spring began, it’ll be a few more months until we know who will lead the Irish offense onto the field for the first time when Texas comes to town.

You may also like


  1. I wonder if Golson’s refusal to talk with the media as scheduled was because he didn’t want to take any questions on transferring where he later might be labeled as being untruthful?

  2. Pat Steenberge, Bill Etter and Cliff Brown, Spring of 1971- a quarterback battle that was never resolved, and festered, with great strife and dissension until Tom Clements became eligible in ’72.

    After Huarte left, and while Terry Hanratty and Coley O’Brien were freshmen, and therefore ineligible, Tom Schoen and Bill Zloch battled it out in ’65.

    ’77 Rusty Lisch was ahead of Gary Forystek with some guy named Montana a distant third. Quartebacks, sometime, happen.

    ’07 Demetrius Jones and Evan Sharpley battled while Clausen was “recovering.” To get the start against Georgia Tech and Tenuta, Jones won, Pyrrhically.

    ’10 Tommy Rees, a callow early entrant, and a gimpy Dayne Crist.

    Some may lament this current quarterback battle. I’ve seen worse. Throw me into THIS briar patch, any time you want.

  3. With all that Everett Golson has endured, worked at, and overcome to get back in the good graces and back on the field, it’s hard to fathom that he would just walk away now.

    He has experienced highs and lows, good times and bad, wins and losses, media pressure, scrutiny, and adversity.

    Those are things that can’t be taught.

    At the very least… he’s paid his dues.

  4. Although there’s a lot of sense in waiting until the fall for this decision to be made, I don’t know if BK gave the right answer if he wants EG to be here after he graduates. I don’t know if EG should be the full time starter or not. I don’t know if it’s better for the program if EG stays or leaves if he’s not named the full time starter. But I have to think EG’s weighing his options . If he gets the right offer elsewhere, he can force BK’s hand. We’ll see.

  5. It sounds both will be good. Lets hope it all works out for the best which I think it will.

  6. I agree with BK’s decision myself. While fans would love to know, there is absolutely no need to name a starter at this time. Take time to evaluate the two of them (along with the other QBs) and pick the starter that gives the team the best chance of winning. While I’m not big on running a 2 QB system, and I don’t believe BK will go that route, I do believe whoever the non-starting QB will be will still have a role to play. First they’ll need to be ready to go in at a moment’s notice if there is an injury or meltdown. The good thing is I think either QB could take over if necessary and run the offense without much of a learning curve at this point. Their teamates seem to respect both QBs enough.

    But more than that, I think there will be times in games where the other QB can have some plays tailored to there strengths that they can run. Zaire is excellent at the zone-read so I think he can definitely have an impact on games. And if they can fix the problems with EG he has the potential to make great plays too. So if I were BK I wouldn’t be afraid to use the strengths of both QB’s in game situations.

  7. I think this comes down to how accurate Zaire can pass and how much Golson can improve as a running quarterback.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button