DeShone Kizer

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DeShone Kizer leaves for NFL, giving QB Brandon Wimbush his opportunity at Notre Dame

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The Notre Dame quarterback situation just got a whole lot more wide open for the spring, potentially. DeShone Kizer will pass on his final year of eligibility in South Bend and declare for the NFL Draft. Kizer shared the news on his Twitter account Monday afternoon.

“I have an opportunity to continue my football career in the NFL. My family and I have taken the last couple weeks to collect all the necessary information to make a decision that will impact our future,” Kizer said. “After discussing with my family and coaches, and weighing the pros and cons of remaining at Notre Dame, I believe it’s time to change my path.”

Kizer stepped in to lead the Irish offense early in the 2015 season and played very well as a sophomore. Kizer completed 62.9 percent of his pass attempts for 2,880 yards and 21 touchdowns to 1 interceptions in his first run as Notre Dame’s starting quarterback. His ability to take off and run gave opposing defenses something else to worry about as well. The 2016 season, as for the entire Notre Dame program, did not go exactly according to plan, but Kizer actually improved his touchdown to interception ratio (26 touchdowns, nine interceptions) in a losing season in South Bend. Kizer also rushed for 472 yards and eight touchdowns this season.

Notre Dame was already set to lose one quarterback with the unconditional release from scholarship given to Malik Zaire. Now, with Kizer heading to the NFL, Notre Dame’s most likely starting quarterback in 2017 may be Brandon Wimbush. Wimbush was a four-star dual-threat quarterback out of high school in the Class of 2015. Having been unable to wiggle his way into the starting competition that was stacked with Kizer and Zaire, the door is now wide open for Wimbush to ascend to the top of the depth chart. Nothing will be guaranteed, however, and he will still have to prove the wait was worth it starting in the spring.

Notre Dame blows 20-0 lead, then scores 10 straight to beat Miami

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Nothing has gone according to plan for Notre Dame (3-5) this season, but they managed to find themselves celebrating a win despite blowing a 20-0 lead at home on Saturday. Notre Dame saw a 20-0 lead turn into a 27-20 deficit against Miami (4-4, 1-3 ACC) in the fourth quarter, but the Irish responded with a 10-point run to come away with a much-needed win in Notre Dame Stadium. The game was clinched with a sack of Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya.

Notre Dame started off as well as anyone could have expected, leading the Hurricanes 17-0 after one quarter of play and 20-0 just minutes into the second quarter. Notre Dame was suffocating Miami in the first half, but Kaaya and the Hurricanes would roar back with 20 straight points in the second half to take a 27-20 lead. That put the Irish in a tough spot, but they somehow managed to climb out of it.

It took Notre Dame just four plays to tie the game at 27-27 thanks to a big gain through the air from DeShone Kizer and a 41-yard touchdown run by Josh Adams. Having re-energized Notre Dame Stadium with the tying score, Notre Dame’s defense then came through with their best effort of the half, a three-and-out, which would help lead to an eventual game-winning field goal from short distance. Miami had a chance with the ball and just 30 seconds to play, but with no timeouts, there was nothing that could be done on a sack by Nyles Morgan to end the ball game at the Miami 41-yard line.

Notre Dame did get a little banged up in the game as well. Linebacker Greer Martini suffered a concussion in the first quarter, and defensive tackle Daniel Cage was also being evaluated for a head injury.

The Irish now keep their slim bowl hopes alive with the win, but still face an uphill. At 3-5, Notre Dame must win three of its final four games. Next week Notre Dame plays Navy in Jacksonville, followed by Army in San Antonio. The Irish then close out the season at home against Virginia Tech and on the road at USC. Nothing is impossible, but even games against the service academies may not be the automatic wins Notre Dame is accustomed to having.

Miami returns home next week to play Pittsburgh in ACC play.

Notre Dame defense suffocating Miami in South Bend

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DeShone Kizer has thrown two touchdowns in the first half to help give Notre Dame a 20-7 advantage on visiting Miami. The defense of the Irish has played one of the best halves of the season against Brad Kaaya and the Hurricanes, holding Miami to just three rushing yards.

Notre Dame started off as well as they could have dreamed, with a touchdown drive to open the game for an early lead. Kizer connected with Torii Hunter Jr. from the five-yard line for the score. Miami’s offense then lost eight yards on a three-and-out on their first drive, setting Notre Dame up with a great chance to do some more early damage. Notre Dame was held to a field goal, but the defense then picked off Kaaya on Miami’s third down on the ensuing possession. This time, Notre Dame cashed in with a touchdown with Kaaya finding Equanimeous St. Brown from 14 yards out.

Miami did catch one break in the first half on special teams by recovering a fumble by Hunter Jr. that led to a Miami touchdown a few plays later (Kaaya completing a pass to David Njoku for the score). But that has been just about all Miami has managed to do against Notre Dame so far. Miami has been flagged six times for 55 yards too.

DeShone Kizer says Notre Dame players still trust Brian Kelly

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Notre Dame may be going through a disappointing college football season, but quarterback DeShone Kizer says the players have not lost their faith in their head coach, Brian Kelly.

We have complete confidence in coach Kelly,” Kizer said, according to The Indy Star. “He has experience, he’s a winning coach, he knows how to win and he’s going to figure out whatever it takes to win. And as long as we continue to have the mentality that he is the successful coach that he is and trust in that, we’re going to be fine.:

Notre Dame is just 2-5 this season, with their bowl hopes fading quickly. As Notre Dame has struggled, Kelly has come under some fire for how he has handled the season thus far, which has included throwing others under the bus, a change at defensive coordinator and poor coaching decisions along the way. The preseason expectation of being a potential playoff contender in the eyes of some set the bar high for Kelly and the Irish, and so far Notre Dame has come nowhere close to living up to those standards.

Kelly has already received a vote of confidence from Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick. Now he has his starting quarterback behind him.

“We’ve been all over the place in this first half of the season from different motivational speeches to different mindsets each week trying to figure out what’s the best way of getting a win and doing whatever we can,” Kizer said. “But from here on out, it’s just having a good time, taking this opportunity to play for Notre Dame and doing whatever you can to bring home wins.”

Stanford rallies to beat Notre Dame as Jimmy Clausen takes aim at Brian Kelly

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Stanford (4-2) scored 17 straight points and pitched a shutout in the second half to stun Notre Dame (2-5) in Notre Dame Stadium, winning by a score of 17-10. It was a night that was led by the Stanford defense, which came up with nine points and had to be won by the Cardinal without Christian McCaffrey, who was out of action with an injury nagging from last week.

Stanford took its first lead of the game in the fourth quarter on a bizarre sequence at the end of an 11-play drive. Stanford running back Bryce Love (129 yards) rumbled toward the goal line but fumbled the football into the endzone. After a scrum, Stanford was awarded the go-ahead touchdown when it was determined Jesse Burkett recovered the fumble.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly pulled his starting quarterback, DeShone Kizer, from the game early in the second half after tossing two interceptions on Notre Dame’s first two possessions of the second half, despite still leading at the time. The first interception was returned for a Stanford touchdown by Quenton Meeks from midfield. Kizer’s second interception came at the end of a 10-play drive on fourth down from the Stanford 38-yard line. Dallas Lloyd returned the interception to the Notre Dame 47-yard line, but the Cardinal would turn the ball right back over to the Irish when Ryan Burns fumbled the football while being sacked by Jonathan Jones. Jamir Jones jumped on the loose ball for the Irish.

Replacing Kizer was Malik Zaire, who showed some signs of bench rust in his first series. Zaire failed to complete either of the two pass attempts he passed, and he picked up just three rushing yards on three rushing attempts. There was certainly no spark there for Notre Dame. Eventually, Kizer returned to the field to lead the offense, and he led the Irish to a late offensive scoring threat with the game on the line.

Former Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen was firing off some fire about the decision to pull Kizer on Twitter, suggesting Kizer should strongly consider leaving Notre Dame for the NFL Draft next season if Kelly doesn’t trust him.

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Apparently, Kelly had a bit of an outburst on the field after the game, as Notre Dame’s final drive was ended on a fourth down attempt for a game-ending turnover on downs.

Notre Dame will get a week off to regroup and figure some things out with their offense. The next time Notre Dame takes the field will be in two weeks back in Notre Dame Stadium when the Miami Hurricanes travel to South Bend. The Hurricanes cracked the top 10 in the polls this season but have now lost two straight game sin ACC play, to Florida State and North Carolina. Miami does play next week, with a Thursday night road trip to Virginia Tech.

Stanford will look to pick up a much-needed win in Pac-12 play next week when they host the surprising Colorado Buffaloes next Saturday in Palo Alto.