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Football: Weis names Clausen starter for PSU

Chris Khorey | Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Freshman Jimmy Clausen will start at quarterback Saturday for Notre Dame against Penn State, Irish head coach Charlie Weis announced Tuesday, ending speculation about who will occupy the starter’s role three days after the offense managed only three points in a dismal loss to Georgia Tech.”I think he’s ready to run the offense,” Weis said of the young signal caller. “If I didn’t think he was ready, I wouldn’t have done this.”Weis said Clausen, who had surgery on his elbow after spring practices, wasn’t completely healthy until “late last week” and was therefore not an option to start in Notre Dame’s 33-3 loss to the Yellow Jackets last Saturday.Weis also said Clausen was the No. 1 quarterback after spring practice, but fell to a “distant third” during the late summer due to the injury. Clausen participated in all practices, but was limited in the number and distance of passes he could throw, the coach said.Although Weis wouldn’t rule out playing sophomore Demetrius Jones or junior Evan Sharpley again at some point this season, he said Clausen is getting the vast majority of repetitions with the first team in practice.”This evaluation process was one that went from the spring to this point right now,” the coach said. “I’m not going to play musical quarterbacks.”Jones got the starting nod against Georgia Tech and ran an ineffective spread option offense, rushing 12 times for 28 yards and completing one of his three passes for four yards. Jones also coughed up two fumbles before getting pulled from the game at the end of the second quarter.Sharpley replaced Jones, completing 10 of 13 passes for 92 yards, but was sacked seven times.Clausen saw his first collegiate action at the end of the loss to the Yellow Jackets, completing four of six passes for 34 yards.


uThis weekend, Clausen will become the eighth freshman to start at quarterback for Notre Dame since 1951. The most recent was Brady Quinn, who made his first start in a 23-10 loss to Purdue in 2003.

uIrish freshman quarterbacks are 6-1 in their first starts since 1951. Ralph Gugliemi beat North Carolina in 1951, Blair Kiel beat Miami in 1980, Steve Beuerlein beat Colorado in 1983, Kent Graham beat Boston College in 1987, Paul Failla beat Purdue in 1991, and Matt LoVecchio beat Stanford in 2000.

uClausen’s start in the second game of the year marks the earliest in a season a freshman has started at quarterback for the Irish. Quinn, Failla, Beuerlein and Kiel were all previously tied for the quickest, starting the fourth game of the season.