Managing a quarterback controversy is not rocket science.
It’s trickier than that. Because human emotions are involved.
This is where Brian Kelly earns his mega-bucks. The key is to go with DeShone Kizer, who is clearly the best option at this point, while keeping Malik Zaire in the right place mentally as well as physically to step in.
Because that time is likely to come. And even if it never does, you still want to have that option.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
What that means this week against Nevada is that Kizer plays until the Wolfpack is howling at the moon. And then Zaire stops grinding his teeth, puts in his mouthguard and looks sharp in mop-up duty.
Zaire’s next opportunity with the game on the line might come as early as Michigan State next week. It might not come at all.
But the point is to keep his head in the game, and keep him ready to go. Injuries happen. Offenses stall and need a change to jump-start them.
I like the way Kelly handled it this week, steering clear of the whole deal at his Tuesday dog-and-pony show. This guy knows politics.
Let Kelly make the announcement off the cuff, so there are no immense headlines for Zaire to absorb.
And then, just let this thing play out.
I laid this whole thing out last Friday on SportsTalk Live, the Chicago-based Comcast TV show, for host Chuck Garfien and fellow guests Ciafa Lewis and Chris Emma. You could look it up.
I will add one more thing. If Kizer really settles in, I would expect Zaire to start taking some snaps at another position (running back, receiver, who knows?) at some point. He’s too talented to not be on the field.
Keeping his head in the game won’t be easy. But in the long run, it’s best for him and the Irish. If he’s mature and has designs on the next level, things can be done relatively smoothly.
NOT GOOD, BUT. . .
Yes, Notre Dame gave up a ton of points in its epic 50-47 overtime loss to Texas.
But I’m leaving that game more impressed by Texas than wondering about Notre Dame.
The Irish looked vulnerable on defense, and maybe they are. But they also did a nice job of coming back when they trailed 31-14 to take a 35-31 lead.
In the modern world, the number of points doesn’t mean nearly as much as it used to. All of these overtime points have changed that. And the current game is skewed toward offense.
Does Notre Dame have things to work on? Yes. Is it destined for disaster? No.
I still want to see how the Irish deal with Michigan State and Stanford, two games that figure to define the parameters of their season.
But if the Longhorns turn out to be as good as they looked against ND, they might be headed for the College Football Playoff.
That would not surprise me. And that could mean the Irish are headed for better things than their tough night in Austin would seem to indicate.[/membership]