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September 4, 2007Looks like Jimmy Clausen's healing elbow has come around just in time for Notre Dame's trip to Penn State where more than 107,000 fans will give him a warm welcome this Saturday in Beaver Stadium.
Charlie Weis opened his press conference Tuesday at noon EST by hastily announcing Clausen as the starter against the Nittany Lions. After providing a 10-minute preview of Penn State, Weis fielded question after question pertaining to his decision to go with the 6-foot-3, 207-pounder from Westlake Village, Calif.
"He's ready to run the offense," Weis said. "If I didn't think he was ready, I wouldn't do this. He was always ready mentally. It's just that his arm wasn't a full-go until the end of last week. He had been getting reps all along. We just had been keeping him from overexerting himself."
Weis said that Clausen was the leader of the three-man competition with Evan Sharpley and Demetrius Jones upon the conclusion of spring drills in April. But summer bone spur surgery on his right elbow put him behind the competition physically.
"At the end of spring, we took every throw by every player and (evaluated the) running of the operation and everything we do," Weis said. "As we evaluated it as a staff, the (edge) would have gone to him at that time."
Weis expected Clausen to be near or at 100 percent health by the start of the season. But Clausen was unable to practice/throw every day when camp opened on Aug. 6.
"So we kind of got caught in that gray area where we really couldn't consider him as the starter for the opening game," Weis said.
But following Notre Dame's 33-3 loss to Georgia Tech in which Clausen came in relief to complete 4-of-6 passes for 34 yards, Weis promised that he would name a starter by Tuesday at noon. Weis met with the team's leadership committee and the quarterbacks Monday night to inform them of his decision.
Weis said that Clausen would get virtually all of the snaps in preparation for Penn State.
"No, they won't get a lot of work," said Weis in reference to Jones and Sharpley.
He also intimated that this likely would not be a trial run.
"I'm not looking to play musical quarterbacks," Weis said.
When asked how much of Saturday's performance by the three quarterbacks came into play with the decision to start Clausen, Weis said, "Not much."
Weis wouldn't indicate what type of offense he would run against Penn State. But he did say, "I always put the quarterback in the position with things that he can do the best. That's what we did last week with Demetrius and Evan. I'll do the same thing with Jimmy."
Weis is more comfortable starting Clausen after getting him a couple of series against Georgia Tech.
"The best thing that happened is that he got into the game last week," Weis said. "I'd be more concerned if his first reps were in front of 107,000 in Happy Valley. But I think we got that out of the way in the fourth quarter last week."
Asked who the No. 2 quarterback would be for Penn State, Weis said, "We're just talking about who the starter is. We're not talking about who's No. 2.
Ultimately, it wasn't a very difficult choice for Weis.
"Managing the team, his arm's back I think he gives us the best chance of winning," Weis said.