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September 24, 2009

Weis: Clausen looks ready to go

Charlie Weis didn't plan for Jimmy Clausen to suffer a turf toe injury last week.

All the Irish head coach could do was put together a plan to deal with it. After watching Clausen's edited schedule and altered equipment during practice preparations for Purdue, Weis said his starting quarterback should be ready for Saturday night against the Boilermakers.

"Jimmy looks like he's a go, actually looked good out there today," Weis said Thursday. "The plan went just the way we went. You don't know if it's going to work out that way, but he didn't practice Tuesday, practiced a little bit yesterday, practiced a lot more today, looked sharp.

"It looks like he's ready to go."

That's a relief to a Notre Dame offense sure to be without receiver Michael Floyd and potentially without running back Armando Allen. Weis called his starting tailback a "game time decision" after the junior played through a leg injury in 100-yard performances against Michigan and Michigan State.

While Notre Dame could scheme around an absent Allen, there would have been no hiding Clausen's vacancy, even with former five-star prospect Dayne Crist backing him up. The sophomore took the majority of practice reps on Tuesday and continued to get work throughout the week. Evan Sharpley also took reps in an insurance role.

Weis liked what he saw from Crist, even if he's in no rush to see his back-up become his starter.

"I was surprised with Dayne that the thing I was concerned with the most early in the week was him running the operation and that was actually the thing he did the best on Tuesday," Weis said. "As the week went on, he looked a lot more game ready himself.
I could see the possibility of him getting some action in this game as well."

If Clausen can't go, it won't be for a lack of trying.

Aside from a reduced workweek, Clausen had the benefit of a plate put in his right shoe to take pressure off that turf toe injury. Clausen also had a cleat removed from his right shoe to help accomplish that same goal. Weis added that the swelling in Clausen's toe has subsided.

"I think that he threw the ball very, very well today," Weis said. "There's a lot of things that are all working together."

Clausen got a stamp of approval from one of his receivers too.

"Jimmy looks good, he'll be fine in the game," said Duval Kamara. "I'm sure he'll be fine."

As for the run game, Weis considers Allen's status uncertain enough to alter how he scripts Notre Dame's opening plays. Instead of putting in Allen-specific calls, Weis will go generic relative to his running backs. For example, the Wildcat figures to be limited until Weis knows what he can get from Allen.

"As I go into the game, you put in plays that it wouldn't make a difference who was the running back," Weis said. "Whether it was Armando or Jonas (Gray) or Robert (Hughes) or Theo (Riddick) or anyone else, what you do is early in the game, you put in plays that anyone can run and then you tweak it accordingly."

But don't write off Allen entirely. Weis isn't.

"I'm not counting on losing him at this point," Weis said. "I just said it's a game time decision, we'll just have to wait and see how it goes. He might not play as much as he normally would play. Might turn into a 10-15 carry game instead of a 25 carry game. The other guys are going to have to pick up the slack if that's the case."


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