SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame is turning to freshman
quarterback Jimmy Clausen against Penn State on Saturday hoping to
revive an Irish offense that looked inept in a season-opening 33-3
loss at home to Georgia Tech.
"I think he gives us the best chance of winning," coach
Charlie Weis said Tuesday.
Clausen of Westlake Village, Calif., was rated by many as the
top high school recruit last year. He entered the opener last
weekend as the third-stringer following offseason arm surgery,
because he couldn't do enough in practice to contend for the
Weis said he chose Clausen to start against the Nittany Lions
(1-0) because he is best at managing the team and because of his
"I think he's ready to run the offense," Weis said. "If I
didn't think he was ready I wouldn't do this. I think that he was
always ready mentally. It's just his arm wasn't a full go until the
end of last week."
Clausen was the top quarterback after spring practices, but was
limited when practice began Aug. 6. He was recovering from the
removal of a bone spur from his throwing elbow in the spring.
Weis didn't say he planned to abandon the spread offense the
Irish used against Georgia Tech with Demetrius Jones starting at
It appears the Irish will return to the offense Weis used as
offensive coordinator to help the New England Patriots win three
Super Bowl titles and the Irish ran the past two seasons with Brady
Quinn. Both seasons the Irish were among the nation's top 15 in
Asked whether the Irish would be more comfortable returning to
their old offense, Weis said no one should feel comfortable after
the way they played last week.
"But there is a comfort zone when you have more familiarity
with what you're doing," he said.
Weis didn't say who will back up Clausen against Penn State.
Notre Dame was held to 130 yards passing against Georgia Tech,
ranking them 94th of 113 teams. Clausen played the final two series
and was 4-of-6 passing for 34 yards while being sacked once.
Jones started the game, going 1-of-3 passing for 4 yards and
rushing 12 times for 28 yards. Four of the six drives he led ended
in a three-and-out, and he fumbled on the other two possessions.
Evan Sharpley was 10-of-13 passing for 92 yards and led the Irish
to their only score, but was sacked seven times.
Clausen would be just the eighth freshmen to start at
quarterback since 1951 -- and none of the previous seven started
before the fourth game of the season. Brady Quinn was the most
recent to do it. He was 29-of-59 passing for 297 yards in a 23-10
loss to Purdue in 2003.
The other six Irish QBs to accomplish the feat --
in 2000, Paul Failla in 1991, Kent Graham in 1987, Steve Beuerlein
in 1983, Blair Kiel in 1980 and Ralph Guglielmi in 1951 -- all won
their first starts.