Malik Zaire

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Feleipe Franks named starting QB for Florida

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It’s been a busy day for Florida Gators news, but here’s a nugget about one of the players not facing a suspension this weekend. At least for now.

Feleipe Franks has been tabbed as the official starter for the Gators this weekend when Florida faces Michigan in Arlington, Texas.

Although Florida head coach Jim McElwain had teased the idea of playing as many as three quarterbacks in the season opener (something he could still potentially do, especially if things get off to a rough start offensively), Franks was the leading candidate to start for the Gators coming out of the spring. The redshirt freshman shined in the Gators’ spring game and looked to be the most suitable candidate to handle the job this fall based off the spring.

“He’s ahead, there’s no doubt about it,” McElwain said of Franks at the end of the spring practice schedule in April.

With Franks being named the starter, that likely means Luke Del Rio will serve as the primary backup quarterback, with former Notre Dame graduate transfer Malik Zaire also an option. Although the idea of having Zaire play some wide receiver may become more a necessity than anything with a plethora of suspensions putting a dent in the receiver depth this week.

QB Malik Zaire pushes back transfer decision, which may mean Florida is still in the mix

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Former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire remains hanging in college football’s equivalent of free agent limbo. Zaire will reportedly stay hanging in the balance until some time after the SEC’s spring meetings before he makes his final decision regarding his pending transfer.

According to multiple reports surfacing today on Twitter, including the preliminary report from Anwar Richardson of Rivals, Zaire plans to sit back and enjoy his graduation from Notre Dame this weekend and announce his decision after the SEC spring meetings, with Texas one of two supposed finalists.

It is worth noting Richardson previously reported Zaire was intending to announce his transfer decision today, before the SEC spring meetings. At the time, that was taken as a sign Florida may no longer be in the mix. Now, as Zaire pushes that announcement back, could Florida be back in the running?

Florida has long been reported to be one of the leading possibilities to land Zaire as a graduate transfer, although SEC rules prohibiting players to be added to a football roster as a graduate transfer if that player previously failed to meet academic requirements after enrolling. That rule is planned to be discussed at the SEC’s spring meetings. If the SEC amends the rules in a way that would allow Florida to welcome Zaire without hassle, then the Gators could once again look like the favorites to add Zaire to the roster this fall.

Both Texas and Florida would benefit from adding a quarterback with Zaire’s potential. He may have had a rough end to his run in South Bend as he was overtaken as starting quarterback by NFL-bound Deshone Kizer, but Zaire may still have something left to prove and could thrive in a team with the athleticism and talent he could surround himself with at Florida or with the coaching of Tom Herman at Texas.

Report: Florida interested in Notre Dame transfer QB Malik Zaire

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It appears former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire has some potential options worth considering with his graduate transfer. In addition to Texas, and Wisconsin, UNC, and Baylor, another power conference program in need of some stability at quarterback seems to be making a push to land his commitment.

A report from Gator Bait suggests the Gators are eyeing Zaire as a potential transfer target, but the school must receive some help from the SEC office. That is because Florida has had two transfer players (Anthony Harrell and Mason Halter) fail to meet certain academic requirements upon arrival at Florida. As a result of taking transfer players failing to meet certain requirements, Florida is ineligible from accepting graduate transfers for three years.

If there is a glimmer of hope for Florida and the prospects of adding Zaire, it may come later this spring when the conference meets to review certain rules. Among the rules potentially up for review will be the graduate transfer policy initially designed to give a boost to the academic integrity of the graduate transfer process. Commissioner Greg Sankey has expressed an open mind to reviewing the rule as it stands, and an amendment to the rule could still be instituted in time to make Zaire eligible to transfer to Florida if he desired.

As a graduate transfer, Zaire will be eligible to play immediately this fall without having to sit out a season at a new FBS program.

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.

Why is Brian Kelly continuing to drag out Notre Dame QB battle?

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Anyone who watched Notre Dame’s season-opening loss on the road against Texas on Sunday night (and a lot of you did) likely came away knowing one thing for sure. Notre Dame’s offense runs better when DeShone Kizer is playing quarterback instead of Malik Zaire. Just about everybody seemed to agree on that, which made it a little puzzling when Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said this week he will plan on using two quarterbacks once again this week in the Irish home opener against Nevada.

”I haven’t sat down and talked with to either one of them, so before we do that we don’t have any plans to make any decisions,” Kelly said this week.

Keith Arnold of Inside the Irish said it best in one of his postgame recaps of the Sunday night game in Austin. DeShone Kizer needs to be Notre Dame’s starting quarterback. I agree. So do you, in all likelihood. Kizer completed 15 of 24 pass attempts for 215 yards and five touchdowns without an interception. He was also Notre Dame’s second-leading rusher, adding one more touchdown on the ground. Zaire attempted just five passes and completed two for 23 yards and rushed three times for zero yards. It can be unwise to make rash decisions based off one season opener, but the difference between Kizer and Zaire was substantial.

So why might Kelly be reluctant to hand the offense over to Kizer on a full-time basis? Let’s try stepping inside the mind of the head coach. First, let’s admit and concede the indisputable fact that Kelly has seen much more of both Kizer and Zaire than anyone else has. He sees these players in practices on a regular basis, watches and breaks down the film, and sees them in action on game day. He talks to these two far more than any of us do as well, so we should probably agree he has a better understanding of what these two options are all about than you or I do. Agreed? Great. Understanding all of that, we can understand in part why Kelly may have the desire to see more out of Zaire and Kizer in a real-game situation.

Maybe Kizer played out of his mind against Texas and Zaire had a down night. What happens if Zaire comes out blazing against Nevada and Kizer all of a sudden begins to struggle? Then Kelly would be justified for holding off on making a decision on one guy. Or maybe Kelly will take a note from what he watched his most recent opponent do and find a way to utilize both of his quarterbacks more effectively in the offense while splitting the plays between them.

That does not appear to be the case. Kelly still seems as though he would like to have one guy to turn to at quarterback, and if Kizer has not yet made it clear he should be the guy, one has to wonder what else Kelly needs to see. Letting this drag on longer than it needs can be a concern as well. All Kelly needs to do is look back to last season when Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer let the quarterback situation play out longer than he needed, or should. (Side note: Remember when Kelly said he liked his quarterback situation better than Ohio State’s last season?) Meyer was faced with deciding between J.T. Barrett coming off injury or Cardale Jones, who played a remarkable three games to help push the Buckeyes to a national championship. The quarterback shuffle led to Ohio State’s offense struggling to get in rhythm the way they were expected to in 2015. Eventually, things sorted itself out, even if Meyer made the wrong call at first by going more with Jones over Barrett. Meyer did Ohio State no favors by creating a distraction that never needed to be there. Kelly is walking down the same path in South Bend the longer he waits to make the call, and it’s not like he’s deciding between quarterbacks who led him to an undefeated season and/or national championship. The call should be for Kizer.

Look. Kelly is getting a ton of money to make some football decisions that appear to be incredibly and painfully obvious to the fans and media alike watching the game from off the sidelines. Maybe Kelly is making a mistake in letting this quarterback indecision drag on. Maybe this is all still going according to plan for Kelly.