Each week of the season, the American-Statesman will interview the beat writer of Texas’ opponent. This week, the Chicago Tribune’s Paul Skrbina — @ChiTribSkrbina — offers insight on Notre Dame:
Is Notre Dame really a better team with Malik Zaire as quarterback? After all, Everett Golson took the Irish to a national championship appearance, and Zaire has started just one game.
In two words: Who knows? Plenty of talent surrounds Zaire, most notably at receiver and the offensive line. Question is, can Zaire get those receivers the ball? If he can, ND will be tough to beat.
In a word: Yes. Losing nose tackle Jarron Jones (torn MCL), cornerback Shaun Crawford (torn ACL), running back Greg Bryant (academic suspension) and defensive lineman Ishaq Williams (denied reinstatement by NCAA after academic scandal) hurts. Remember, though, that linebacker and team MVP Joe Schmidt is back, along with receiver Torii Hunter Jr. (injury) and cornerback KeiVarae Russell (academic suspension).
Mike Sanford Jr. is ND’s new offensive coordinator after a successful stint at Boise State. Is he running his own system or simply parroting what the Irish had done under Brian Kelly?