While it may have taken longer than many expected, Brian Kelly named Everett Golson his starting quarterback after practice on Wednesday. The senior beat out sophomore Malik Zaire, who put up a valiant effort.
With offensive installation complete, Kelly expected to see a separation by the end of the week. And after taking candidly about wanting to let the competition play out until there was a distinction between the two signal callers. That apparently happened, with Kelly telling both quarterbacks of his decision, with Golson winning the job after doing all that was expected from the senior quarterback.
“His spring practice and his leadership in the summer and camp here, he’s put himself in a position to get that opportunity,” Kelly said of Golson’s work in winning the job.
With under three weeks to go before Notre Dame takes on Rice, getting this decision out of the way before it became a distraction made sense. And after hearing Kelly talk about Golson with ESPN and former Texas coach Mack Brown earlier this week, it’s not exactly a surprise.
Nor is Zaire’s disappointment. After earning a few raised eyebrows when Zaire said that he expected to be behind center against Rice as the Irish’s starting quarterback, the youngster did everything asked of him, including out-performing Golson in the Blue-Gold game.
“I let Malik know first and let him know his situation. I got the right answer from Malik, he wasn’t happy,” Kelly said.
The offense will move forward with Golson the clear No. 1. There is no plan for a wildcat package for Zaire, as the Irish ran with Andrew Hendrix at times. But Zaire will have every opportunity to push Golson, with the sophomore quarterback competing well even after hearing the news.
Golson missed the entire 2013 season after an academic violation earned him a suspension from the university for the fall semester. He led the Irish to the BCS title game in 2012, going 10-1 as a starter.
Notre Dame kicks off the 2014 season against Rice on August 30.