Football: Continued uncertainty
Chris Khorey | Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Irish coach Charlie Weis refused Tuesday to name a starting quarterback for Saturday’s game against Air Force.
Weis said the team’s practices this week will determine whether junior Evan Sharpley, who has started the last two games, or freshman Jimmy Clausen, who started the six games before that, will take the opening snap against the Falcons.
“We haven’t practiced yet [this week], but they’re both in the running,” Weis said before practice Tuesday.
Weis said he is taking into account the health of his quarterbacks at this point and how it will affect their play.
“Well, the kid is banged up, the other kid is not banged up, so you play the kid who’s healthy,” the coach said. “There’s a difference between pulling people for how they play, healthy versus banged up.”
Weis said the quarterbacks split snaps evenly in practice Tuesday, and he will make a decision about practice time for the rest of the week today.
“I’m not really sure how [Wednesday] will go,” he said. “What I’ll be able to do is after I get through [Tuesday] – I’ll be able to give a more definitive answer.”
Weis said by Wednesday night he will have decided on a starter and will give that player the majority of the practice snaps the rest of the week.
“What we’re not going to be doing is going 50/50 on the reps all week long,” he said. “That’s not the way it’s going to work. It might be a little bit closer to that today, but it’s not going to end up that way.”
For the season, Sharpley has completed 55 percent of his passes for 736 yards and five touchdowns with three interceptions. Clausen, in one more pass attempt, has competed 57 percent of his passes for 618 yards with one touchdown and five interceptions.
Weis said he wants to have just one starting quarterback over the next three games in an attempt to build momentum for next season.
“I don’t think what you want to be doing here is each week say, well, ‘Who’s going to play the best for us against Air Force, who’s going to play the best for us against Duke, who’s going to play the best for us against Stanford?'” he said. “I’m at the point right now where I want to win this game, and simultaneously, I want to start building some upward momentum.”
Weis said about “90 percent” of the team stopped by Guglielmino Center on Monday, which is usually a day off from practice. He said players often do various football-related things on Monday, but that he saw more players around the building than usual this week.
“More than normal, they’re a lot more around the coaching staff,” he said. “They want to get tape to watch on their own [performances] because we can’t watch tape with them because it’s a day off, so we leave them alone. So there were a lot of guys that kind of wanted to just hang around yesterday, which I think that’s a good thing.”
Weis said Sharpley didn’t have the ability to change the play at the line of scrimmage before running back Travis Thomas was stuffed trying to get the two-point conversion at the end of the Navy game.
“On a goal-line play, there’s never any latitude,” he said. “You never have a checkoff from this play to that play.”
Weis said even though Navy jammed the line of scrimmage with defenders, he still expected Thomas to be able to power a yard-and-a-half into the end zone.
“On a goal line play, you’re already assuming that all those bodies are going to be there, and the bottom line is you need to push the pile more than they push the pile,” Weis said. “We’re talking on just that last play, on every goal-line play with the exception of that one, the pile was pushed pretty well. But on that play you’ll notice as you watch it the line of scrimmage came [backward] instead of going [forward].”
Weis said junior nose tackle Pat Kuntz is recovering more quickly than was expected from the injury he suffered Saturday, and he may play against Air Force.
“He’s considerably better than we thought he was going to be,” Weis said. “He’s going to practice some today, and then we’ll just kind of see how it goes.”