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The Men in Red

Apr 12, 2014, 6:04 PM EST

Mike Franz, the official 2013-14 men’s basketball beat writer for the In The Paint blog, is currently a sophomore at Holy Cross College. Over the course of the year Mike will bring you insight from within the student section, interviews with Fighting Irish players and stories from inside the team circle. You can follow Mike (and the rest of the Notre Dame student beat writing staff) on twitter at @JrNDBloggers.

Going into the Blue-Gold Game on Saturday, there was much anticipation at the quarterback position. On one hand, you had Everett Golson making his first appearance in action at Notre Dame Stadium since last year’s Blue-Gold Game.

And on the other hand, you had Malik Zaire, who went on record saying, “There will only be one guy starting on Aug. 30th against Rice at Notre Dame Stadium, there will only be one guy out on the field, and I believe that will be me.” These two athletes thrive in competition, and it was easy to see that they were not only competing against the defense in this game, but also against each other.

In each of their first four drives in the first half – where there were normal clock stoppages – this is how the two quarterbacks matched up.

First Drive

Malik Zaire

  •  2/3 on passing attempts for 51 yards
  • 1 rushing attempt for -5 yards
  • Drive ended in a touchdown run by Cam McDaniel

Everett Golson

  • 2/4 on passing attempts for 22 yards
  • 3 rushing attempts for -4 yards
  • Drive ended in a made field goal by Kyle Brindza

Second Drive

Malik Zaire

  • 2/2 on passing attempts for 65 yards
  • No rushing attempts
  • Drive ended in a touchdown pass from Zaire to C.J. Prosise

Everett Golson

  • 3/3 on passing attempts for 54 yards
  • 2 rushing attempts for 7 yards
  • Drive ended in a touchdown rush by Golson

Third Drive

Malik Zaire

  • 5/6 on passing attempts for 56 yards
  • No rushing attempts
  • Drive ended in a touchdown pass from Zaire to Amir Carlisle

Everett Golson

  • 2/5 on passing attempts for 28 yards
  • 3 rushing attempts for 1 yard
  • Drive ended in a punt by Brindza

Fourth Drive

Malik Zaire

  • 2/3 on passing attempts for 53 yards
  • No rushing attempts
  • Drive ended in a missed field goal by Brindza

Everett Golson

  • 3/4 on passing attempts for 25 yards
  • 1 rushing attempt for -13 yards
  • Drive ended in a punt by Brindza

Each quarterback scored at least one touchdown in the first half: Golson ran one in and Zaire threw two touchdown passes. I was particularly impressed with Zaire’s accuracy – almost all of his throws were right on the receivers’ hands. He should have had two more completions, but a receiver dropped an easy pass over the flat and another dropped what would have been a sure-fire touchdown.

Both quarterbacks got sacked multiple times in the first half (Golson- three times; Zaire- twice). Yet, it is hard to look at their rushing numbers critically because if a defender just gets a hand on the quarterback he is considered down. This was most evident in Zaire’s first drive when he ran out of the pocket and escaped pressure, but the referee called him down because a defender got a finger on him. Both Zaire and Golson are difficult to take down when they move out of the pocket, so with their rushing numbers it is hard to choose who ran better.

In regard to the passing game, numbers do not lie. Zaire had a better passing day in the first half, completing 15 of his 19 pass attempts. He had another drive at the end of the first half where he threw 4/5 for 34 yards, was sacked once, and the drive ended in a missed field goal by Brindza. Golson was no slouch though. He completed 10 of his 16 passing attempts for 129 yards.

If I had to choose a quarterback right now to start against Rice on August 30th, it would be Zaire. He seems much more comfortable staying in the pocket to make a tough throw, and it seems like he picks things up much quicker in regards to the offensive scheme of things. Nevetheless, these two quarterbacks are extremely talented and both will be competing for that starting spot up until the week of that Rice game.

However, having two talented, quick quarterbacks with tremendous arm strength vying for the starting spot is not a bad problem to have.

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