JIMMY CLAUSEN IS NOTRE DAME'S PRETTIEST PONY (THIS WEEK)

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The quarterbacking carousel at Notre Dame continues on apace, as Jimmy Clausen is slated to start in Saturday's Air Force game. Near the end of the AP article, this telling passage (emphasis added):

Weis said at the time he named Sharpley the starter for the USC game that he was doing so because Sharpley was steadily improving and because Clausen, who had been sacked 23 times, was banged up. He said Tuesday that Clausen was getting healthier. Sharpley was 34-of-60 passing for 257 yards with one interception and two touchdown passes in his two starts. He was sacked nine times.

I suppose if you can't fashion even the merest facsimile of an O-line, this stratagem makes perfect sense. There are two-quarterback schemes founded on the basis of wildly differing styles of play. There are two-quarterback schemes founded on getting a young player integrated into an offense. And then there's Charlie Weis, sniffing his two prospects like past-dated cartons of milk and selecting whichever smells like it'll do the least damage to his vitals. The system works!

Observe:

September 1: Demetrius Jones starts against Georgia Tech, fumbles twice, is promptly benched (after what, a quarter?), and still finishes as ND's leading rusher for the day.
September 15: Clausen starts, completes 11 of 17 for 74 yards and an interception, is sacked eight times by the Wolverines. Sharpley enters in fourth quarter and ends a potential scoring drive with an INT of his own.
September 22: 86 passing yards amassed between Clausen and Sharpley, and four more sacks at the hands of Michigan State, bringing the season total to 27.
September 29: Clausen throws his first career TD (against Purdue, but it still counts) and promptly injures his hip.
October 13: Clausen benched after two INTS en route to Notre Dame being smacked in the mouth by "little brother" Boston College.
October 20: Sharpley gets the start, is sacked five times by USC. The school record for single-season sacks, 38, is supassed with a third of a season to go. And Charlie Weis intones: "So let me just say people better enjoy it now, have their fun now."
November 3: Careful what you wish for, Charles. Navy snaps a 43-game losing streak that Weis dismissed as inconsequential. Sharpley, in his turn at the chopping block, is brought down with 45 seconds to play.

Three games remain. The writing's on the wall, and it doesn't take much foresight to extrapolate the rest of the season:

November 10: Clausen botches the first two quarters badly, repeatedly throwing into double coverage, is pulled at the half. Sharpley is sacked three times on the first possession of the third quarter and spends the rest of the game swatting at imaginary fireflies in the huddle.
November 17: In the final home game of the season, Clausen manages a third-quarter touchdown pass against the vaunted Duke secondary. Lighting up a peach-flavored victory cigarillo on the sidelines, he accidentally sets fire to a small portion of the field and is suspended for the season's final game.
November 24: Sharpley gets the start against Stanford. And little Jimmy Clausen, heard muttering on the sidelines about "being released into his natural habitat", vanishes into his native California night in the aftermath of the game, leaving no trace save for a hastily written, largely illegible note stuck to the team bus windshield signed, "Butterflies Are Free."

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