football Edit

DeShone Kizer Named No. 1 QB

DeShone Kizer (left) and coach Brian Kelly talk during the Texas game. (Bill Panzica)

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly told DeShone Kizer on Wednesday that the junior would be “the guy,” at quarterback against Nevada on Saturday.

Kizer said he’ll get the first snap against the Wolf Pack in the Irish home-opener, seemingly ending a months-long quarterback battle with senior Malik Zaire.

“As of now, I’m expecting to be the only guy,” Kizer said.

On Tuesday, Kelly said he and the offensive staff was still evaluating how Notre Dame would use the quarterbacks against Nevada. With that situation settled, Kizer said it “means a lot” that he’s the full-time QB.

“In the last eight months I’ve learned quite a bit about myself as a quarterback, as a leader, as a teammate,” Kizer said. “From that I’ve definitely developed into someone that I wanted to be for this season.

“Malik really challenged me and he will continue to challenge me. I’m really grateful for the situation because it really helped me to develop into a guy who’s willing to compete play-by-play and it really taught me how a great quarterback needs to be really rep-focused, rather than focused up on the guy in front of him or the play in front of him or the play behind.”

Kizer went 15-for-24 passing in Sunday's season-opening double-overtime loss at Texas. He finished with 215 yards and five touchdowns with no turnovers and added 77 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.

The Toledo, Ohio, native said he spoke individually with Kelly, who congratulated the quarterback and encouraged Kizer to keep the same mindset moving forward.

“Obviously Malik is an amazing athlete and there’s going to come a time where you’re definitely going to see him on the field I believe,” Kizer said. “That hasn’t really been talked about too much. All I know is (Kelly) told me to prepare to be the starter on Saturday and that’s what I plan to do.”

Zaire, who completed 2 of 5 passes for 23 yards Sunday in limited action, was not made available to the media Wednesday evening.

Even though he’s now the outright starter, Kizer said his overall mindset won’t change. It’s a positive that Zaire will still push him in practice and not let himself get complacent.

“It helps when it comes to your mindset out there and you’re getting every rep with the ones, the guys who are going to be playing,” Kizer said. “At the same time, I plan on approaching it the same way. We had a really good offseason 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.

“I’m going to allow those guys to continue to be the guys that they were and not really try to adjust when it comes to the leadership style. I’ll just continue to build off of that and kind of place myself back to where I was sometime last year.”

That also means keeping Zaire’s leadership in the fold.

“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 now, he’s a huge component to this team and he’s going to go out and lead the same way he’s been leading. I expect him to. I will fully allow him to step in and say the things he needs to say because he understands the offense just as much as me.

“His experience and his ability to lead is something that this offense needs and this team needs. It’s kind of my duty to allow him to be that senior guy and share his experiences. 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 are going to lead this year and I’m not going to adjust just because of a different way of going out there with one guy.”

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