- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The Notre Dame Fighting Irish is only two full weeks into spring practice, so any decision on who will start under center Sept. 5 against Texas is a long way away. And while new offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford said Wednesday that he would like to see some separation come fall camp, he plans on at least informing Everett Golson and Malik Zaire of their roles before the season kicks off.
Unlike what happened to Sanford when he was in their seats.
The Boise State alum was locked in a neck-and-neck battle as a senior with Jared Zabransky throughout the Broncos' 2004 preseason camp. The competition was so close, in fact, that a starter was never announced. Zabransky, then a redshirt sophomore, was given first-team orders the day of Boise State's opener against Idaho, and he never really looked back.
"I feel like every position battle is very unique, it's very different," Sanford said. "I was involved with one as a player myself my senior year at Boise State, where they didn't actually announce the starting quarterback until they announced the opening lineups for the first game of the season, and it wasn't me." Sanford laughed at the memory.
"So I don't really like that model too much personally. I think that model's probably not healthy for the sanity of your backup, but it actually ended up being a great thing for me, just to learn from.
"But ultimately I think the progression of one over the other as it starts to separate, I think that we'll make that decision, so I think the timeline, you like to be going into fall camp feeling like you have a very clean definition of who the starting quarterback is."
Sanford can laugh about his predicament now. He told the Idaho Statesman last summer that learning on the sideline under then-offensive coordinator Chris Petersen allowed him an early peek into the coaching profession, where the 33-year-old has had plenty of early success.
Zabransky, meanwhile, took off, earning plenty of attention throughout a college career that was capped two years later by one of the most famous plays in college football history: The game-winning, two-point conversion Statue of Liberty handoff to Ian Johnson that shocked Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl and helped make Boise State a brand name. Zabransky landed on the cover of EA Sports' NCAA Football 2008 video game afterward.