Turf toe could affect Clausen
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen will have two nagging problems to deal with against Purdue on Saturday: a painful right big toe, and a missing receiver who was averaging 27.5 yards a catch and more than a touchdown a game.
Clausen hopes a shoe insert will help him deal with his turf toe, and that his backup receivers will help offset the loss of Michael Floyd to a broken left collarbone.
"That just means guys have to step up," Clausen said.
Clausen walked a bit gingerly into his weekly news conference on Wednesday wearing high-top sneakers instead of his usual flip-flops, but that marked an improvement over the protective boot he had been wearing since injuring the toe during Saturday's win over Michigan State.
Clausen didn't practice Tuesday but planned to take part in Wednesday's practice and more in Thursday's.
"Hopefully I'll be ready to go for Saturday," he said.
When asked if there were a scenario where he wouldn't play, Clausen said: "The goal is to play. That's the plan."
Coach Charlie Weis said he expects Clausen, second in the nation in pass efficiency with a rating of 188.55, to play against Purdue (1-2). Clausen said the injury could affect him because he plants with his right foot to throw.
"Saturday I had to adjust that a little bit. I really wasn't using my legs too much because it was that painful," he said.
Clausen was 12-of-21 passing for 171 yards after being injured when he was sacked in the second quarter. Before that he was 10-of-10 passing for 129 yards.
The Irish (2-1) are hoping Duval Kamara, Robby Parris or a lesser-used receiver will help fill the void left when their top receiving threat, Floyd, went down. That did not happen last season, when Floyd missed two games and most of a third with a knee injury and the Irish threw for 138 fewer yards per game.
Golden Tate, who has 19 catches for 301 yards and three touchdowns this season, expected to see more passes when Floyd went down last season. But he went from averaging 5.5 catches for 92 yards to three catches for 53 yards.
Tate said he's better prepared now because he's a better receiver.
Floyd's injury represents a second chance of sorts for Kamara and Parris and the first big chance for John Goodman, freshman Shaquelle Evans and Deion Walker, who did not play as freshmen last season. Kamara and Parris were starters two years ago before Floyd and Tate emerged as one of the nation's top receiving tandems. Kamara was the team's second leading receiver in 2007, with 32 catches for 357 yards, and Parris was third, with 29 catches for 361 yards.
Their numbers dropped sharply last season as Kamara, who set some of Notre Dame's freshman receiving records in 2007, saw his playing time decrease after dropping some passes early last season, and Parris struggled with a hamstring injury. Kamara finished sixth on the team in catches in 2008 with 20 for 206 yards, and Parris was eighth with nine catches for 50 yards.
"I think as a coach, I feel like they've been through it a little bit and you have some confidence in them because they kind of toughed it out," receivers coach Rob Ianello said.
Parris acknowledged it has been hard.
"You go from playing a lot to not playing," Parris said. "It become almost more of almost a mental game than physical. Keeping your head in the game knowing you're one play away, two plays away from getting in the game. You just have to be ready for whatever."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press