CFB Preview: No. 18 Notre Dame-Nevada

BY foxsports • September 6, 2016

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly wasn't revealing much about his quarterback situation after playing two at Texas.

"We still have two very good quarterbacks," he said Tuesday.

It appeared that DeShone Kizer had mostly settled the issue in a 50-47 double-overtime loss at Texas on Sunday night. He completed 15 of 24 passes for 215 yards and five touchdowns, also running for 77 yards and a score.

Malik Zaire, the former starter who missed most of last season because of an ankle injury, completed 2 of 5 passes for 23 yards.

The competition was one of the country's most intriguing in fall camp, and Kelly apparently will keep some mystery to it, not saying as of Tuesday whether he'll continue to use both quarterbacks when the No. 18 Irish play host to Nevada (1-0) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

The game will mark the 250th consecutive sellout at Notre Dame Stadium, a streak that began after the 1973 season.

Kelly said Kizer missed a couple "cupcake throws" against Texas and misread a couple of protections that led to sacks.

"For some reason, he missed," Kelly said. "He checked out of a pass play into a run play late in the game where we had a pass on, and just tried to do a little too much.

"So a lot of it is probably late in the game trying to do a little bit too much. Just let the offense run itself. You being the player that you are, you're going to make something good happen instead of trying to manufacture something."

Kelly also talked about keeping the No. 2 quarterback "engaged" in the process.

"You can't let your teammates down and you can't let yourself down," Kelly said.

"That's really 99 percent attitude and accepting the role that you have. If you can't accept the role, then you need to move out of the way and let somebody go into that role that can accept it and prepare themselves accordingly, so when they are called upon they're ready to play."

Nevada won its opener, 30-27 in overtime against visiting Cal Poly of the Football Championship Subdivision. Junior running back James Butler scored the winning points on a 5-yard run. He has 2,100 career rushing yards.

The Pack is a run-first offense out of the Pistol formation. Returning starting quarterback Tyler Stewart completed 17 of 23 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns last week.

Notre Dame's reconstructed and relatively inexperienced defensive line gave up 237 rushing yards to Texas, including 131 to D'Onta Foreman and 53 -- including three rushing TDs -- to quarterback Tyrone Swoopes. Two of Swoopes' scores came in overtime after Notre Dame had rallied from a 17-point second-half deficit.

Linebacker Nyles Morgan had a career-high 13 tackles. Freshman safety Devin Studstill had four tackles in his debut and could start this week with safety Avery Sebastian being evaluated for a concussion. So, too, was wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. Both likely will be evaluated close to game time.

A couple of bright spots on offense were sophomore receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (five catches for 75 yards and two touchdowns in his first start) and running back Tarean Folston, who missed most of last season because of a torn ACL. He had a 54-yard run on the game's opening drive and closed with 88 yards on 18 carries.

Folston and running back Josh Adams will be a formidable challenge for Nevada's defense, which gave up 191.4 rushing yards per game last season. Fourth-year Wolf Pack coach Brian Polian called them both "big dudes."

Polian is returning to Notre Dame after serving as an assistant from 2005 to 2009 under head coach Charlie Weis. He is embracing the opportunity, saying, "Who wouldn't want to play in front of Touchdown Jesus?"

He added: "We're excited to go play at a really cool place."

This is Nevada's second all-time trip to South Bend. Notre Dame won 35-0 on Sept. 5, 2009, marking only the third time coach Chris Ault's team was shut out in his 25 years as the Wolf Pack coach.