Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

QB Kizer Will Helm Irish with Arm, Feet

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

QB Kizer Will Helm Irish with Arm, Feet

Article excerpt

Pat Narduzzi and Brian Kelly will be on opposite sidelines for most of the afternoon Saturday, but when the two coaches shake hands before the game, they might take a second to empathize with one another.

Both have had key players go down with an injury, but, impressively, neither has let it have a great impact on his team's record.

Pitt has lost two starters - running back James Conner and tackle Jaryd Jones-Smith - and three other contributors for the season because of injuries, and Kelly estimated this week No. 5 Notre Dame has had seven key players go down this year.

"I mean, I'd rather not have them at all, obviously," Kelly said. "But we've kind of managed through them and developed the players now that have stepped in."

The biggest adjustment for the Irish has been at quarterback, where sophomore DeShone Kizer has stepped in after starter Malik Zaire went down with a season-ending ankle injury the second week of the season.

Since stepping in, Kizer has steadily progressed through the season, completing 65.4 percent of his passes for 1,669 yards and 11 touchdowns.

"They're as talented as you're going to see," Narduzzi said. "Second-string quarterback, third-string quarterback, it doesn't matter."

From Kelly's perspective, he has been most impressed with Kizer's ability to take control of the huddle despite not seeing the field last season and being the backup coming out of fall camp.

"I don't know that anyone would have expected him to be where he is right now," Kelly said. "I don't know that you forecast your backup quarterback to be the position that he's in right now, ranked nationally, leading his football team. You're excited and happy for him."

While it might be unexpected, Kizer's success isn't totally surprising. Narduzzi recalled recruiting Kizer, a former four-star prospect out of Toledo, Ohio, when Narduzzi was at Michigan State. …

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