‘A Season With Notre Dame Football’ – Episode three recap
Miko Malabute | Thursday, September 24, 2015
I’m just going to presume here, fans of football and television alike are all aware of the legendary television series “Friday Night Lights.” Everyone knows the lore of how famed Dillon Panthers quarterback Jason Street (who actually was a virtual lock to receive a scholarship at the University of Notre Dame) went down early in the Panthers’ season. The unassuming, backup quarterback Matt Saracen was handed the reigns to the Panthers offense, and led them all the way to a state championship.
The parallels to “Friday Night Lights” and this year of Notre Dame football are eerily similar, and they were thrust onto center stage in this week’s episode of “A Season With Notre Dame Football.” From the start, we saw the leadership, passion and promise of starting quarterback Malik Zaire leading the Irish into the second week of the young college football season, only to be prematurely cut down for the year with an awful ankle injury. The pressure to perform fell backup quarterback DeShone Kizer’s, and – true to “Friday Night Lights” form – Kizer threw a Saracen-esque bomb to Will Fuller down the field for the go-ahead game-winning touchdown.
However, this episode of Showtime’s “A Season With Notre Dame Fall” was magnificent in showing the immediate after-effects of Zaire’s success. After the win over the Virginia Cavaliers, Kizer went back to work under Coach Brian Kelly’s tutelage, where the audience saw the natural growing pains behind Kizer’s progression. It was refreshing — if not a bit sobering — to see how much work goes into Kizer’s development, to ensure that he isn’t a one-game wonder.
With the immediate success and the eyes of the Notre Dame fanbase (as well as the entire national college football following), it is easy to imagine how quickly the overnight fame and popularity could go to a younger quarterback’s head. This episode showed how this didn’t happen to Kizer. Sitting down with Jac Collinsworth, Kizer spoke on a podcast about how crazy the national spotlight has been.
“I just – I never, never expected all this stuff to happen the way it is,” Kizer admitted to Collinsworth. “I’m just expected to go from nothing to everything, in three days.
“Going in the summer, I literally hit rock-bottom. I wasn’t throwing the ball well, as a third-string quarterback. … I was thinking that to myself, ‘Why did I even play football?’” Kizer continued. “Finally I was like, ‘Look: there’s no more ‘red shirt’ next to your name. There’s no more Everett Golson versus Malik Zaire.’ There’s nothing. The only thing stopping me from me playing was myself.
“And now that [Malik Zaire] is down, I’m in a position where it’s time for me to take over.”
And that he did, as the cameras once again caught a beautiful, “program win” over two-and-a-half-point-favorite Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Kizer showed maturity and poise well beyond his years and led the team on the field and, in between series, on the sidelines. The physical, stifling Irish defense — as well as the rest of the Irish offense — also got their deserved share of time on the screen. Unfortunately, as I feared, this episode featured yet another injury to a key player, as Drue Tranquil went down. It was yet another tough moment to see Tranquil, with tears in his eyes, realizing his season is over. But he showed determination and heart in keeping his teammates’ spirits up despite his own injury.
This week’s episode showed a resilient, determined Irish team with a “won’t-die” attitude, which made for yet another awesome edition to the Showtime series. Here’s hoping that next week’s episode won’t capture another injury to an already injury-riddled Irish football team.