Wisconsin Football: No Malik Zaire might not be a problem

Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports /

Malik Zaire, a former Notre Dame quarterback, is planning on transferring for this upcoming season. He has narrowed his future schools down to either the North Carolina Tar Heels or the Wisconsin Badgers. Originally, he said that he would come up with a decision by Tuesday, December 20th. According to sources, Zaire has postponed his decision in order to continue to weigh his decisions.

Malik Zaire was a highly touted recruit coming out of high school. Zaire is a dual threat quarterback that can make plays with his arm as well as his legs. Zaire has a rocket arm, but has struggled with accuracy. He’s played a good chunk of games where he has completed under 50 percent completion percentage. Zaire has also had “those” games where he completes over 80 percent of his passes and really lights up the box score. He’s not exactly a fast running quarterback, but does a good job buying time and escaping the pocket allowing him to make plays with his legs. Since being a highly recruited quarterback, Zaire has shown flashes of greatness as well as times where he has really struggled.

Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports /

If Malik Zaire chooses Wisconsin, he undoubtedly will be the best quarterback on the Badger’s roster. Zaire was interested in Wisconsin coming out of high school because of his relationship with then offensive coordinator and now head coach Paul Chryst. Zaire committed to the Fighting Irish and started a handful of games during his time there. He’s had some strong numbers in a small sample size. However, Zaire lost his starting spot to DeShone Kizer, who is one of the top NFL quarterback prospects in the upcoming 2017 NFL draft. If the Badgers end up not landing Malik Zaire, it’s not the end of the world for multiple reasons.

Lack of Experience

First off, Malik Zaire has only started in four games in his three-year career. In addition, he has only appeared in 15 of a possible 38 games that he has been eligible to play at Notre Dame. Zaire saw limited playing time in 2016 and didn’t throw more than nine times in any single game. The last time Zaire started a college football game was the second game of the 2015 season against Nevada. This lack of playing time in the past three years raises doubts of his abilities.

Any quarterback will tell you that there is a difference between practice reps and live in game situations. On the other hand, Alex Hornibrook saw action in all but two games this season and drew most of the starts this season despite the Badgers using a two-quarterback system. Hornibrook as a freshman has started more games in his career than Zaire. Hornibrook also has a whole season under his belt of being coached by the quarterback guru, Paul Chryst. Badger fans have seen in the past that the more work a quarterback gets with Chryst the better their performance.

Affect Quarterback Progression

Malik Zaire would only be a one-year solution to the Badger’s quarterback position. This could affect the growth of Alex Hornibrook. Hornibrook received lots of playing time in his first season as a Badger quarterback. Expect Hornibrook to become a full-time starter, due to the loss of Bart Houston to graduation.  If Zaire transferred to Wisconsin, he could take Hornibrook’s starting spot, which could affect his growth as a quarterback. The Badgers could benefit from Zaire transferring to the program for a year, but this could hurt the programs quarterback play for the next few years.

Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

Wisconsin just signed Jack Coan, a pro-style quarterback in the class of 2017. Coan is the third best recruit out of the state of New York. Overall the Badgers are a team that haven’t been able to recruit top quarterback prospects due to their lack of a passing game. They also can’t bank on getting transfer quarterbacks, as Russell Wilson’s don’t come along everyday. It’s more likely that transfer quarterbacks amount to a Danny O’Brien; Wisconsin fans know how that went after having high expectations for the transfer quarterback from Maryland. Wisconsin and Chryst take pride in growing talent and have had success in doing so at the quarterback position with names such as Tolzien and Stave in recent years.

Offensive Scheme

Finally Zaire would be transferring from Notre Dame to Wisconsin. Brian Kelly runs a spread offense while Paul Chryst runs more of a pro-style offense. It’s no secret that quarterbacks who come from a spread offense can struggle to learn a pro-style offense. Many quarterbacks have dominated in college using the spread, but haven’t figured it out in the pros. Bryce Petty, Graham Harrell, Colt Brennan, and Jared Goff are just  a few guys who conquered the spread offense in college, but struggled mightily in the NFL.

Next: Notre Dame transfer quarterback Malik Zaire postpones decision

Zaire is certainly changing schools to become more NFL ready. He mentioned how he wanted to transfer to a pro-style system. Zaire will try to figure a pro-style offense in college so it puts him ahead once he goes pro. If the Wisconsin Badgers are unable to land Zaire I don’t think it will be the end of the world. The Badgers will continue their success with Alex Hornibrook or another  quarterback in 2017.