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Football: Air loss

Bill Brink | Thursday, November 13, 2008

Opposing defenses learned their lesson from watching tape of Notre Dame in the early part of the season and started taking away deep routes, Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen said in his weekly press conference.

“After the first half of the North Carolina game, teams have been trying to take the two outside guys away, Golden [Tate] and Mike [Floyd], and dropping more guys into coverage and making me take the underneath stuff,” Clausen said.

Boston College took away the deep pass against Notre Dame. Clausen’s longest pass, a 32-yard completion to Floyd, was a shorter pass over the middle that Floyd took down the sideline on his own.

Clausen talked a good deal about “making plays,” but said sometimes throwing the ball away or taking a sack benefits the offense.

“Just the nature of playing football, you want to make a play on every single play,” he said. “Sometimes it’s not a play that can be made, and you’ve just got to either drop the ball down, run the ball or even take a sack.”

The underneath routes worked well for Clausen against Boston College. He completed nine passes to running back Armando Allen in the middle of the field. Clausen said continued success of the underneath routes will force the defense to come forward, opening the deep route again.

“Once you throw the ball underneath, dink and dunk teams and you can run the ball and make teams come up and guard the underneath stuff, make them stop the run,” Clausen said. “Then they come up and you have shots down the field that you can throw and make plays.”

In terms of helping the short passing attack, receiver David Grimes said the receivers need to take advantage of the opportunities they’re given.

Grimes said the level of attention in the offensive meetings has increased now that head coach Charlie Weis runs the meetings. Weis will call plays this week because of a death in offensive coordinator Mike Haywood’s family.

“Still the same playbook, same plays, but I think, you know, guys are paying attention to it and are more aware of attention to detail,” Grimes said.

It doesn’t matter to Clausen who calls the plays, he said; the execution of the play remains the same.

“To be honest, when you’re in the game you’re not really thinking, ‘Oh, he’s calling plays or he’s calling plays,'” Clausen said. “You know, you’re just getting the play from the sideline and going out there and executing it.”

Both Clausen and Grimes said Navy challenges Notre Dame every time the teams meet.

“Whenever you play them they’re going to give their all,” Grimes said. “They’re out there defending their country. Football is the best part of the day for them.”

Although Clausen missed last year’s Navy game, a triple-overtime loss in South Bend, because of injury, he remembers the impact of the game.

“I don’t think that anyone in this building wants to feel like they did after that game,” he said.