Replacing the Replacements
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are losing gunslingers like it’s a shootout in the Old American West. First they lose quarterback Everett Golson to Florida State and now Malik Zaire to a broken right ankle suffered during a dramatic third quarter in what turned out to be a comeback that would make Billy the Kid proud. The Irish beat Virginia 34 to 27, but lost their quarterback for the season.
“Our kids are happy and they’re celebrating the win, but they lost a kid they feel really strongly about,” said head coach Brian Kelly after the game. “The coaches are probably feeling it more. I am in particular because I’m so close to him. I feel bad for him.”
Zaire struggled at times during the game finishing only 7 of 18 passing for 115 yards and a touchdown. After Zaire was helped off the field in the third quarter with a broken ankle, backup quarterback DeShone Kizer came into the game and completed 8 of 12 passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns in a strong performance. His most notable throw was his last which ended up being the game winning play; a 40 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Will Fuller with 12 seconds left in the game.
Two weeks in a row the Irish have lost their starting running back (Tarean Folston) and quarterback (Zaire) for the season. When it seems as if all hope is lost in South Bend, the backups step up into the limelight. New Notre Dame running back C.J. Prosise, converted from wide receiver, recorded an outstanding game rushing the ball. He finished with 17 carries for 155 yards averaging 9.1 yards per carry and a touchdown.
Said Kelly of the injuries, “We’ve lost our starting running back and starting quarterback, but there are a lot of good players around them. DeShone isn’t going to have to win it himself.”
Kelly has often praised the depth of his team and now his players on the field are defending his words. Not only does he believe in his backups, he is quite confident that he can succeed with them.
“He (Kizer) can win games for us. I want to win a championship with him. We need to get him to the next level.”
Their next shootout the blue and gold will play host to Georgia Tech and their lethal offense full of all sorts of weapons. It will serve as a true test to see just how deep this roster is. Luck played in favor of the Irish at Virginia, but luck was nowhere to be found for Billy the Kid on that fatal day in Fort Sumner. Notre Dame will need to keep their guard up and never stop firing.