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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."