And make no mistake, judging from atrocious Irish line play against Georgia Tech, Dan Connor and Co. will have their shot at Jimmy all night long as - secrecy, denial, impatience, hemming, hawing, flip-flopping and subterfuge aside - the Jimmy Era is officially underway at Notre Dame:
This week, it's all riding on Jimmy.
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'I think he gives us the best chance of winning,' coach Charlie Weis said Tuesday.
Clausen was rated by many as the top high school recruit last year. Weis said Sunday that Clausen could not have started the opener because he was recovering from arthroscopic surgery to have a bone spur removed from his throwing elbow. Weis said Clausen wasn't fully healthy until last week.
"I think he's ready to run the offense. If I didn't think he was ready I wouldn't do this," Weis said. "I'm not going to play musical chairs with our quarterbacks."
"I'm not going to play a quarterback who can't do everything, so I didn't," Weis said.
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What Weis has done by keeping the position under wraps all offseason and rotating all three Saturday was the definition of playing musical chairs with his quarterbacks, but if the timing re: Clausen's mysterious bone spur is the justification he needs to stop the music on Jimmy without saying "We're already gearing up for 2008," that's fine. If Clausen is the future, and the present is getting reamed by 30 points as a slight favorite on your own field, it makes every bit of sense to make the present pain count towards some future gain. But, as Jimmy and his colleagues now well know, the interim is indeed going to be painful. You can't recruit an offensive line or serviceable running game in four days, or four weeks, about the time fate of the season will be decided as ND prepares to visit UCLA.
On the face, Evan Sharpley seems to give Notre Dame the best chance to win "right now": he threw the most passes against Georgia Tech, was the highest rated of the three, had more yards per attempt, led the offense on its only scoring drive (the only series that was even close to being a scoring drive), which alone accounted for just shy of half the team's total yards. Clausen came on late, went three-and-out in his first series and took the team for 21 yards on eight plays on his second. It was the third-longest Irish drive of the game, right behind Demetrius Jones' 26-yard march in the first half, which ended in a lost fumble. By comparison, remaining upright without committing a gut-wrenching turnover is qualification enough.