SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The question was simple for Notre Dame: junior DeShone Kizer or senior Malik Zaire at quarterback in 2016?
Brian Kelly offered an equally simple but far more unexpected answer Wednesday: both.
"Both of their skill sets simply have slight differences, but both of them are playmakers," the Fighting Irish coach said at the team's mid-August media day. "If I list our top five playmakers, they're in it. My ultimate decision was I can’t put one of those guys on the sideline against Texas."
Zaire started the first two games of 2015 before suffering a season-ending ankle injury, throwing for 428 yards and four touchdowns in those outings. The 6'4", 230-pound Kizer replaced Zaire late at Virginia and wound up throwing for 2,885 yards and 21 touchdowns against 10 interceptions the rest of the season.
"I made the decision this early because it was clear to me the more we practiced, the more they’d make plays," Kelly said. "It was not going to change anything. Now they can just settle into getting better every day. They don’t have to worry about a competition for the Texas game."
The Irish open the season against the Longhorns in Austin on Sept. 4.