Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly says QB competition will be open in bowl preparations

Bob Wieneke
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame now knows its bowl destination and opponent. Which quarterback earns the starting job for ND’s Dec. 30 Music City Bowl showdown with LSU though? No answer yet.

Irish coach Brian Kelly said Sunday night that the preparations leading up to the bowl game will include competition between Everett Golson, who started all 12 regular season games, and Malik Zaire, who replaced Golson in last week’s 49-14 loss to USC.

“We’re going to let them compete,” said Kelly, whose team will hold its first practice on Friday, “and we’ll see where that puts us come game time.”

When, however, Kelly makes that decision has no definite timetable. Kelly said it could be eight practices, or it could be a year. Golson retains a fifth year of eligibility in 2015 while Zaire will be a redshirt sophomore next season.

“It’ll be when I see what I see, (that) will be the duration of that competition,” Kelly said. “But I’m going to need to see what I see.”

Kelly said a number of injured players are expected to return for the bowl. Safety Max Redfield (broken rib), defensive lineman Sheldon Day (knee), linebacker Greer Martini (quad), cornerback Cody Riggs (stress reaction in foot), nose guard Daniel Cage (knee), defensive lineman Jay Hayes (ankle) and nose guard Jacob Matuska (pinched nerve near neck/chest) are expected to contribute. Kelly said it does not look promising that safety Austin Collinsworth (shoulder) will not play.

Kelly also said offensive linemen Nick Martin and Ronnie Stanley, Day and Golson have requested information from an advisory committee about enterirng their names in the NFL Draft.

The 7-5 Irish will face the 8-4 Tigers Tuesday, Dec. 30 at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn. The teams have twice before played in bowl games. The Tigers beat the Irish in the 2007 Sugar Bowl (following the 2006 season), 41-14, and also beat ND in the 1997 Independence Bowl, 27-9. The overall series stands at 5-5.

“I know our guys were really excited about the news and the matchup,” Kelly said.

LSU’s losses came at the hands of Mississippi State, Auburn, Alabama (overtime) and Arkansas.

The Music City Bowl will be Notre Dame’s 34th bowl game in school history, and the fifth straight in Kelly’s five years at the school.

Notre Dame sophomore Malik Zaire will be a camp counselor at Elite 11 in July. (SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)