By TOM COYNE
AP Sports Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire will share duties at quarterback when Notre Dame opens the season at Texas on Sept. 4.
Neither is happy.
“It’s not the most ideal situation but as a pro you need to deal with the cards you’re dealt and make something happen. So our goal is to turn chicken crap into chicken salad,” Zaire said.
Zaire said if he were at any other school, he doesn’t think the decision would be that hard.
Kizer said he believes there should be one quarterback.
“I committed here and decided to play college football to be that one guy. When you decide to play this position, especially at this level, you have to have the desire to be the only guy out there,” he said.
Kelly said he understood both weren’t happy with the decision, but said he made it for one reason.
“My job is to win, and my belief is playing both of them gives us a better chance to win,” Kelly said.
Zaire was expected to compete with Everett Golson for the starting job a year ago, but became the starter when Golson transferred to Florida State. Zaire, the first left-hander to ever start for the Irish, impressed immediately by completing 19 of 22 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns in a season-opening 38-3 win over Texas. His 86.4 percent completion rate in that game ranks second in school history for a single game and the best since 1984.
His tenure as the starter was short-lived because of the broken ankle a week later against Virginia. Zaire rallied the Irish to victory in that game with a 40-yard touchdown pass with 12 seconds left and led the Irish to eight more victories and a No. 11 ranking.
Kelly said the two have played too well to sit either out, saying they had run 257 plays in practice so far with a combined total of two interceptions.
“And that’s with guys not in the right position and running the wrong routes. It’s been remarkable,” he said.
The two quarterbacks are similar enough that Notre Dame won’t have to make big changes depending on who is in the game, Kelly said. He said each has been among the top five playmakers.
Both players said they will work to make the best of the situation.
“For this to work, we’re both going to have to buy into it,” Kizer said.
Zaire said he wants to be the one his teammates can rally around.
“Because that’s what’s really important. Because if nobody believes in either one of us it doesn’t matter,” Zaire said. “So I think it’s important to be able to get guys on the same page and score points.”
Kelly said he doesn’t know what he will do after the Texas game.
“I’m focused strictly on Texas and we are best prepared to beat Texas by playing both DeShone and Malik,” he said.