Malik Zaire will start at QB for Notre Dame in Music City Bowl
Sophomore Malik Zaire will start Notre Dame's Music City Bowl matchup against LSU on Tuesday, Irish coach Brian Kelly announced Monday. Zaire earned the nod over senior Everett Golson, who started ND's 12 regular season games.
Kelly said that both QBs will play in the game.
The 6-foot, 210-pound Zaire played in six games this season, completing nine of 20 passes for 170 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions. He also ran 11 times for 91 yards and a touchdown.
"This is not just a physical game," Kelly said of his decision. "There has to be a level of trust and confidence" at the QB position.
As for the team's reaction to Zaire being named the starter, Kelly said, "It's a limited democracy. I think they trust me."
Zaire replaced Golson in the second quarter of ND's 49-14 loss at USC on Nov. 29. Kelly said a week later that there would be an open competition for the job for the bowl game. After starting the season 6-0, ND finished 7-5, including four straight losses to end the regular season. Zaire, who did not play as a true freshman in 2013, will be making his first career start.
LSU (8-4) is rated No. 1 in the nation in pass-efficiency defense.
Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. (Eastern) and the game will air on ESPN.