Kizer remembers pain of loss to USC in 2014

Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer looks to pass against Virginia Tech during the first half of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Quarterback DeShone Kizer says Notre Dame players are remembering the pain they felt two years when they were embarrassed in a 49-14 loss to rival Southern California as the Fighting Irish prepare to finish a scuffling season on the road against the 12th-ranked Trojans.

“Coach, I remember, challenged us after that game to remember that feeling and every time we play against USC to try to bring that and allow that to fuel us,” Kizer said. “That feeling is still there. It fueled me last year and it will fuel me this year.”

The game against the Trojans (8-3), who have won seven straight after a 1-3 start, could be Kizer’s last with Notre Dame (4-7).

He is being projected by many to be a first-round draft pick in the NFL, with some saying he could be a top-five pick.

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound junior, who has two years of eligibility left, wasn’t in reflective mood Tuesday when talking to reporters, declining to speculate about his future. But after a 34-31 loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday that ensured Notre Dame’s first losing season since Brian Kelly became coach in 2010, Kizer spent time on the field after the game with his parents and outgoing seniors taking in the scene with their families. Kizer, who completed just 3 of 15 passes for 36 yards in the second half against the Hokies, said he had done the same thing last year as well.

“I think it’s awesome to soak in the moment,” Kizer said. “That was our last game (at home) for the 2016 team and I think that it was an awesome opportunity to take it all in with my family. The ups and downs.”

Kizer has said he will make his decision after talking with his family when the season ends on Saturday. He talked two weeks ago about competing with Malik Zaire, whom he beat out this year for the starter’s job, and sophomore Brandon Wimbush, who redshirted this season, to be the starter next season, although many expect Zaire to switch to another school for his final year of eligibility after graduating from Notre Dame.

Kizer was frank when talking to reporters after the loss to Virginia Tech about this season’s disappointments, with all seven losses being by eight points or less, three of those after leading by 10 points or more.

“I think that I did a good job of avoiding all your guys’ questions through all the other losses and at this point, what else am I supposed to say?” he said. “It’s just unfortunate this is how the season has gone. I do believe that in every game we played, we had an opportunity to win. We beat ourselves, in a sense, from stupid penalties, stupid decisions on reads. I think that, once again, every opportunity that we have been out there, we have had a chance to win the game and for us to come up short by an average of something around five points on all those games, is very frustrating.”