Fighting Irish QB trio continues to strive for starting QB status
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Coach Charlie Weis wasn't giving any hints Monday on who Notre Dame's starting quarterback will be this season -- and doesn't plan to until the Fighting Irish take the field against Georgia Tech on Sept. 1.
"I certainly don't want to tell Georgia Tech what I'm doing because I'd rather they spent more time having to figure: Are they going to play a true drop-back quarterback? Are they going to play an athletic quarterback?" Weis said. "I'm not really in the business of giving out free information."
Evan Sharply, Jimmy Clausen and Demetrius Jones are competing to replace Brady Quinn, who broke most of Notre Dame's passing records as a four-year starter. Weis had hoped to enter fall practice with two quarterbacks vying for the starting job, but said the competition has been too close.
"If the competition weren't as close as it was, I would have already said who it was," he said.
Jones is the most mobile of the three, Clausen is true drop-back passer and Sharpley falls somewhere in between, but has the most experience in the system. Clausen is the most highly touted of the three. He's the best-known freshman to arrive on campus since Ron Powlus in 1993.
Notre Dame is keeping so quiet about the quarterback competition, though, that Powlus -- now the Irish quarterbacks coach -- wouldn't answer any questions about the three -- even about their personalities -- other than to talk about them as a group.
"I want to be as polite as possible here, but I'm not going to talk about them individually," Powlus said.
Media attending a 20-minute viewing of practice saw the three go through agility drills, but not a single pass was thrown by any of the three while reporters were present. None of the three were available for comment Monday because only captains and members of the team's leadership committee were available for interviews.
Weis did say that Clausen is healthy -- alluding to media reports that Clausen underwent some type of procedure on his arm in June.
"I've said it before, if people want to talk about procedures and being gone for the year, OK, he's out there practicing today like I said he would be. Would I say when we're teeing off on Sept. 1 would Jimmy Clausen be capable of being our starting quarterback and slinging it 30 or 40 times? The answer would be yes."
Irish players said they aren't worried that they enter training camp not knowing who the quarterback will be.
"They can all throw. They can all make all the throws you need to make," safety Tom Zbikowski said. "Having an offensive mind like Coach Weis, you know you're going to have success with whoever is back there."
Weis said all three will get their chances this week, saying no decision will be made until after a practice Saturday that is open to the public and media. He wants to make a decision by Aug. 20, though, because who will start will influence what type offense the team will be run.
Unlike his predecessor, Tyrone Willingham, Weis believes adjusting his offensive system to the players rather than have players adjust to the system. Weis acknowledges he's a little uncomfortable not knowing who the quarterback will be.
"I just haven't been able to establish what the identity of our offense is going to be because it all surrounds who the quarterback is going to be," he said. "You have to center the offense around what the quarterback can do because if you ask the quarterback to do things he's not capable of doing, then that's your fault as a coach."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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