Notre Dame could have a new starting quarterback when it meets LSU in the Dec. 30 Music City Bowl, as Irish coach Brian Kelly said his starting quarterback job is up for grabs.
Junior Everett Golson has started all 12 of the Irish's games this season, but his propensity for turnovers has led to an open quarterback competition leading up to the bowl game. Golson will compete with Malik Zaire for the start.
"We're going to let them compete, and we'll see where that puts us come game time," Kelly said Sunday during his bowl teleconference.
Kelly also noted Sunday that Golson was one of four Irish players who is seeking input from the NFL Draft Advisory Board. The others are defensive lineman Sheldon Day, guard Nick Martin and offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley.
Kelly said he already had talked with both quarterbacks and the goal was to go into bowl practices "with a mindset of getting Everett and Malik both an opportunity to show what they're made of and how they're going to compete and allow us to have the opportunity for them to both grow, but at the same time, see what competition looks like from that standpoint -- true competition. Because, obviously, this was not a competitive situation during the year. Malik was the backup, and I think I made that pretty clear."
Kelly also said "what we're talking about is some things that I want to see change -- that will have to change during practice."
Golson was being mentioned as a possible Heisman candidate early in the season, when Notre Dame started 6-0. But he and the Irish (7-5) stumbled badly down the stretch. Golson has thrown for 3,355 yards and 29 touchdowns, but he also has tossed 14 interceptions and lost eight fumbles. Golson also has run for eight touchdowns, with three of those coming in a season-opening win over Rice.
The Irish take a four-game losing streak into the postseason, and in those four games, Golson has thrown as many TD passes as interceptions (seven). In addition, his completion percentage -- which is at 60.7 for the season -- was just 53.7 in those four games. He also rushed for just 5 yards in those games.
NFL scouts have noticed his struggles. NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks wrote last week that "NFL scouts will have to pore over the tape to see if (Golson) is worthy of draft consideration at this point."
Zaire, a sophomore, saw extensive time in only one game, the regular-season finale at USC. He was 9-of-20 for 170 yards, with no TDs or interceptions, and also rushed for 18 yards on six carries in a 49-14 loss.