Sunday, July 5, 2015

Can Malik Zaire get us there?

        That should be the question on every single true Notre Dame fan's mind coming into the 2015 season   After watching Malik Zaire COMPLETELY DISMANTLE the vaunted LSU D (ranked # 09 in total defense giving up a paltry 316 ypg), I'm calling it early, yes he can.  You heard it here first. 

And let me explain why.........

        Everyone should know by know that Cardale Jones (Ohio State QB) has the strongest arm in college football. If you don't, just refer to Ohio State's Spring Game.  They held multiple competitions for the fan's sake.  One of them was longest throw.  Cardale Jones beat out J.T. Barrett with a mind blowing 74 yard throw.  That is not a mistake.  74 yards.  In the air. That is mighty impressive.  Enter Malik Zaire.  At ND's Spring Game, Zaire threw a TD pass to Will Fuller that was every bit of 60 yards in the air (for a 68 yard TD). Did I mention the throw hit Fuller in stride with a defender on him?  Of course these are only spring games, but they most certainly can be a barometer for the upcoming season. 

(Photo courtesy USA Today)

         So we established that he has elite arm strength.  Looking back at The Music City Bowl the stats tell a story as well.  This was Zaire's coming out party.  22 Carries for 96 yards and a TD.  12/15 96 Yards a TD and zero interceptions. This against a perennial SEC power.  An SEC power whose passing D was ranked #3 in the country in yards allowed per pass (5.5 ypp) as well as passing yards allowed per game (164.8 ypg) at the end of last year. Zaire averaged 6.4 yards per pass and was on par to throw for more yards than was averaged against LSU all year (he split time under center with Golson.  They did combine to throw for 186 yards in the game.  Beating LSU's average by in excess of 20 yards).

        He is the best fit QB Coach K has had while at ND to fit his system.  Kelly's style of offense is most efficiently run with a true dual threat quarterback.  The type of QB that forces the D line to always expect the run. At the same time making sure the LB's stay honest, while still having the ability to make deep and accurate 1 on 1 throws to their WR's.  Against LSU, the Irish ran 56 times for 256 yards. Averaging 5.2 yards per run on a D that for the season only gave up 4.6 yards per run and 161 rushing yards per game.  This opens up countless big play possibilities. 

(Photo courtesy

       He is showing all the intangibles of this type of player.  All of that coupled with the Irish returning what is possibly their deepest O line of Kelly's tenure, the obvious talent and depth at the tailback and receiver positions, and the upgraded and more experienced D,  I think Malik Zaire is more setup for success than anyone at Notre Dame has been for quite some time.