South Bend, IN---- DeShone Kizer will make his first career college start at quarterback for Notre Dame on Saturday but Brian Kelly says they won't run 'vanilla' offense to ease in their new signal caller.
Kizer is stepping into the lead role after starting quarterback Malik Zaire was lost for the season against Virginia this past Saturday when Zaire fractured his ankle. Kizer entered the game and threw the game winning touchdown pass with 12 seconds remaining to help the Irish improve to 2-0 on the season.
Now Notre Dame welcomes Georgia Tech to Notre Dame Stadium. The 14th ranked Yellow Jackets have steamrolled through Alcorn St (69-6) and Tulane (65-10) using Paul Johnson's triple option to perfection.
Kelly points out that Georgia Tech is averaging nearly 47 points per game over their last 10 contests. That alone shows you the Irish need to score, Kelly says.
"DeShone has to play his butt off," Kelly said as to how the 8th ranked Irish will need to win this game.
So much for getting your feet wet DeShone.
“We’re not going to sit on the ball," Kelly explained. "We have to play our offense. We have to be aggressive offensively. We have to do the things he’s capable of doing but we have to score points.”
True freshman Brandon Wimbush who was expected to redshirt this season, will now enter the mix as Notre Dame's backup QB with Zaire out.
"He is going to play this year," Kelly said of Wimbush, adding that they have to try and get him as much as experience as they can throughout the season.
As Kelly breaks in two inexperienced quarterbacks, he does so knowing his team will face a daunting offense on the other side.
Kelly says they are watching film from as far back as 2012 on Georgia Tech to prepare for the triple option. Kelly credits Yellow Jackets Coach Paul Johnson for running the option so well. Johnson was the Head Coach at Navy back in 2007 when the Midshipmen snapped a 43-game losing streak to the Irish with a thrilling win at Notre Dame Stadium.
Kelly says playing Navy every year helps in preparation for the Yellow Jackets. The Irish know what will be thrown at them and Kelly says his players must stay discipline in knowing their jobs and doing their jobs and not attempting to do someone's work.
Notre Dame's defense spent two segments of every practice during fall camp on the option to prepare for the game this week vs Georgia Tech and the one next month against Navy.
Kelly says there are plenty of similarities between the Georgia Tech option and the Navy option. He says both teams have dynamic, game changing quarterbacks with outstanding fullbacks. Kelly says Georgia Tech has a bigger offensive line and also has developed wide receiver who have gone on to play at the highest levels in the NFL.
Facing the option can often result in injuries to a team. That's saying something for the Irish who have already experienced their share of injuries this season. In addition to Zaire, tight end Durham Smythe was lost for the season against Virginia as well with a torn MCL. Those two join running back Tarean Folston, nose guard Jarron Jones and nickelback Shaun Crawford all as players who won't play for the Irish again in 2015.
"Any team kind of looks at it and says, ‘why us?’' Kelly explains. "As I told our team, no one really cares and those that do are happy that you have more injuries because they are in it for their own team. Just no excuses. Just go play. We have players that will step up. We will find a way.”
The 2-0 Irish and 2-0 Yellow Jackets will kickoff at 3:30pm Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium. Countdown to Kickoff gets you started at 2:30 all on WNDU.