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Should Brian Kelly Play More Than One QB?

Brian Kelly’s decision to play Kizer and Zaire against Texas looks questionable

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Stanford Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

In case you live under a proverbial or literal rock, Brian Kelly announced that he will be playing both Malik Zaire and DeShone Kizer during the season opener in Austin.

Many will say that this is a mistake by Kelly. No QB will get a starter’s share of the practice reps and thus no QB will be prepared. The media will constantly be asking who should be the lone starter and a rift could easily form within the locker room. Some of you are probably even repeating the same tired phrase about how a team with two QBs has no QBs.

You’re all incredibly wrong.

Having an offense with two QBs involved is not the best move by Brian Kelly, for sure, but it keeps things fresh and dynamic and enables both QBs to lend their strengths to the offense while also preparing both to be “the guy” if the other were to get injured.

In my humble opinion, though, the problem with Kelly’s decision is that he’s limiting himself to just two quarterbacks in his offense. What if both Zaire and Kizer go down? Won’t Wimbush be unprepared due to lack of reps and experience? Same goes for true freshman Ian Book and walk-on sophomore Nolan Henry. And although we all know Monty VanGorder is more than capable of coming in and winning a national title and is also essentially indestructible, what if a crafty opponent slips an illegal drug into Monty’s food and gets him suspended?

Clearly Brian Kelly did not think about this. Clearly, he is not prepared for a doomsday scenario at the position. And let’s be honest - at Notre Dame, he absolutely should be.

So what should Kelly do to ensure his team has enough competent, experienced, rep-having QBs to achieve success this season? It’s simple. Field an entire offense of QBs and then reap the rewards!

I know, I know, I can’t believe Brian didn’t think of this either. How would opposing defenses stop an offense where every single player on the field is a threat to throw the ball? Talk about BANANAS.

So, in order to help BK get up to speed, here are the offensive starters I’d like to propose for September 4th, using only players who could conceivably play quarterback for the Irish:

QB Torii Hunter Jr. - 6’0”, 195 lbs

We know all of the players listed as “QB” on the roster (Zaire, Kizer, Wimbush, Book, VanGorder, Henry) know how to play QB. But if they all went down? Well heck, we wouldn’t have anyone to play quarterback, now, would we?

So let’s show some foresight and get the next best thing in there now to prepare for that scenario. And how did I pick Torii Hunter Jr. as the next best thing? Well, this one is pretty obvious - Hunter plays baseball for Notre Dame, and, more importantly, had a super impressive 2015 QB rating of 131.3, which has to be one of the best QB ratings put up by a wide receiver last season. Plus, he’s already thrown passes from the wide receiver spot, so he totally knows the basics of throwing a football. Done deal.

RB Ian Book - 5’11.5”, 200 lbs

Ian Book is a bit of an unknown for Irish fans. An underrated, unheralded QB from California, Book actually has some fun highlights from high school.

But what really gets me about him is his name - specifically his last one. “Book” seems so mundane and boring at first, but think about the fun sayings for broadcasters to toss around as Ian runs straight through the defense on his way to a 1000-yard season. Here are just a few:

“And with that touchdown run, you can Book it! This game is over!”

“Don’t judge a Book by its cover! This kid can flat-out fly!”

“The Irish are throwing every trick in the Book at them!” or “That’s the oldest trick in the Book!” (these would come after some sort of trick play involving Ian)

“The rest of the team oughta take a page from Ian’s Book!”

“There’s one for the record Books!” (when he sets the single-season rushing record)

“These USC players really should try hitting the Books for once!”

Crushin’ it.

WR Jalen Elliott - 5’11.5”, 195 lbs

Jalen Elliott played quarterback for his high school team. Here is a very poor video of that:

Despite the awful angle of the play, there are some major takeaways here that lead us to believe Elliott would really succeed at wideout.

1. His ability to appear seemingly out of nowhere in this video will be of critical importance to his route running. Think of it like the “Hocus Pocus” play in Humongous Entertainment’s Backyard Football, which I painstakingly found a video of within a 20-minute YouTube feature film of someone playing and recording an entire game.

This Hocus Pocus play features Brett Favre throwing to Steve Young. A QB throwing to a QB?! For an easy touchdown?! That can’t be a coincidence, you guys.

2. His “run in a circle until the defenders get lost” move is devastatingly perfect. Anyone who has ever played pick-up football where no one is pressuring the QB can attest to how useful the “run around in circles” strategy is in order to get open. I love what he brings to the table in that regard. This guy just gets it.

LT DeShone Kizer - 6’4.5”, 240 lbs

Kizer is the biggest guy who has any sort of quarterback skills on this team, so I absolutely want him protecting Torii Hunter Jr.’s blind side. He’s deceptively quick for how big he is, as he showed last season with his scrambling ability. Now, he can scramble toward those menacing defensive players instead of away from them, and put the hurt on them in the process.

Not to mention, if we ever want to run some sort of tackle-eligible play where the left tackle gets the ball in any capacity (receiving, rushing, passing, kicking, punting, kneeling), I have complete faith that DeShone will do a great job with it.

LG Brandon Wimbush - 6’1”, 225 lbs

When I think of guards, I think of big guys who have the foot speed to pull and get into the second level of the defense and just wreak havoc on linebackers. Wimbush has the speed and strength to do so, without a doubt.


Despite that video’s music selection, I think it’s an excellent display of Wimbush’s skills that directly correlate to his ability to play left guard. He will be perfect there - basically like a younger, half-the-size Quenton Nelson.

C Monty VanGorder - 6’ 0.5”, 215 lbs

The center is the unquestioned leader of the offensive line, if not the entire offense. And as you’ve seen so far, I’ve strayed a bit from putting people in their “real” positions. But not this time. I had to make the best center out there the actual center of this offense.

So, if you know me at all, you know that I think Montgomery VanGorder (“Gummy” to his teammates, “Monty” to me) is the cream of the crop in terms of Notre Dame’s football talent.

He’s a natural fit at center. Josh Adams does not disagree in this video, only telling VanGorder that he doesn’t fit in at running back (which makes sense for someone who is naturally a center):

So, it was an absolute must-have for Monty to play center on this squad. The kid is a stout 215 pounds and his feathered AND lethal ginger locks put his height just above 6 feet. That’s the kind of size you want in the middle of your line.

And don’t get me started on his athletic ability - the kid could play any position on the field. He’s just so well-suited to be the offensive team captain and starting center that I had to put him there.

RG Tony Jones Jr. - 5’10.5”, 215 lbs

Wimbush has the height and speed to be a successful guard, but Tony Jones Jr. is the one I’m really excited about on this line. Just a freshman, this kid is a bowling ball who is going to plow over defenders as he leads Ian Book into the end zone.

And I know what you’re thinking - why the hell is Tony Jones Jr. on this list of potential quarterbacks? Well, the answer is that he plays baseball very well, having played in high school for IMG Academy, and he actually will reportedly join the Notre Dame baseball team next season as an outfielder. So, clearly he has the arm of a quarterback, and since he’s a young baseball player, he probably likes things like bat flips and staring pitchers down - great habits to continue on the football field as a possible QB. Swagger and intimidation are huge in this sport, and I can’t wait to see Tony launch his helmet like Jose Bautista after pancaking multiple players in one play like he’s Ronnie “Sunshine” Bass in Remember the Titans.*

*Irrelevant note: Sunshine’s lead blocks on the fake 23 blast with a backside George reverse that Rev ran for a touchdown were absolutely incredible. He destroyed two guys while running at full speed and managed to stay on his feet all the while. SUNSHINE = GOAT.

RT Malik Zaire - 6’0”, 225 lbs

Malik is slightly smaller than Wimbush due to being shorter, but there was no way I was going to give Kizer a tackle spot and not give the other to my main man Malik.

Zaire has a thick body and excellent strength, making him the perfect right tackle in this offense. He has quick feet, powerful legs, and we already know the dude can throw a block.

Furthermore, he spent a good amount of time sitting in one of those scooters they give to injured athletes to get around campus, so he’s conditioned to stay low and explode through his blocks, just like he learned to do driving that scooter through terrible crowds in Debartolo Hall during peak class hours.

TE Robby Regan - 6’2”, 200 lbs

Robby Regan is a former high school QB. I don’t know much about him, but I did find a picture of him wrestling.

A couple things to note in this picture:

  • He was a wrestler, which shows he has grit. Major plus for a tight end at Tight End U.
  • He has taken his opponent and lifted him over his head. Pretty good.
  • He’s got a half-smile face going on as he does it, implying it is very easy for him. Also pretty good.
  • It kind of looks like his opponent is desperately biting him on the back to try to escape, but Robby seems unaffected.

Conclusion? Robby Regan is a big, strong, tough-as-nails, potential WWE champ of a player who could definitely throw some blocks, catch some balls, and generally just be as fearsome as any of his predecessors at the position.

WR Nolan Henry - 6’1”, 195 lbs

Nolan Henry is the 6th quarterback on the roster, behind Zaire/Kizer, Wimbush, Book, and VanGorder.

He also won something called the High School Heisman when he was in high school. I can only assume that means he will end up winning Heisman in college, so that makes me pretty excited for him.

If you look at the page I linked, that’s his High School Heisman finalist profile. A couple items worth mentioning here, and then we can move along:

  • He is very into serving others, making him the perfect, selfless teammate that you want in a wide receiver who has to share touches with various other players
  • He led a group of students to Liberia in his junior year of high school to build a pig and poultry farm. My junior year of high school, I set a personal record for most shopping carts brought in from the parking lot in one stack at the local supermarket where I worked as a bag boy
  • The quote at the bottom of his page is “ ‘Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard’ ~ Nolan Henry ~.” That is an actual quote they attributed to him on that website, despite the originator of the quote actually being someone named Tim Notke. That’s a power move and I think it shows just how bold and talented this guy really is. Sign him up for this offense.

WR Grant Hammann - 6’0”, 192 lbs

Grant was a high school quarterback, and he can do this, so he absolutely gets the final receiver spot.


So, as you can see, Brian Kelly’s next step is pretty clear. If he wants to truly ensure that the quarterback position is successful, then having two QBs both play will not work. Nay, he needs to play 11 QBs, simultaneously, to throw off defenses and prepare 11 individuals to take on that role if the need should arise for any or all of them.

Brian, I’ll allow you to use this one free of charge, but if you force me to keep solving your problems for you, I expect some sort of compensation. Just keep that in mind as Hunter Jr. finds Elliott, or Regan, or Book, or whoever else multiple times in Austin on the way to a major rout of the Longhorns.