Saturday, September 01, 2007

Quarterback Controversy

Having rewatched the game, reread everything I could find on the quarterbacks this year, and having watched Coach Weis' press conference multiple times, I think I am starting to get a grasp on the quarterback controversy.

Clausen is our starting quarterback. And probably will be going forward. His rehab disrupted his ability to rep with the first team during training camp, which meant that he couldn't play himself into the starting position during camp. He is 100% now, but wasn't 100% until very recently.

Sharpley is not good. I've been saying this for a long time, but he was kept in the mix because he does have a decently strong arm. And without Clausen available to throw the ball, Weis needed someone who could throw the ball around. And this is because...

Jones is not a quarterback. He's a decent running back, and probably a better receiver. But he can't throw the ball. If he was the passing quarterback with legs that everyone claimed he was, Weis would have used him to run his offense. But instead, Coach Weis planned on using Sharpley to run the 2-minute offense or if he needed a more pass heavy offense. Weis has all but admitted that Jones is useless as a passer.

Part of me can understand why Weis handled this game the way he did regarding the quarterbacks. I can understand how he would be uncomfortable starting a QB that has had only days to rep woth the first team. And hindsight is 20/20.

But he was simply wrong for choosing to start Demetrius Jones. Jones may be a very good athlete, but you cannot win a game in this league without a passing threat. And instituting a whole new offensive package for Jones on top of the existing playbook is just one more thing for this young inexperienced team to have to deal with.

I agree that he couldn't, with any credibility, start Clausen if he hadn't been practicing and earning the respect of his teammates, especially as a true freshman. A true freshman with a (deserved or not) reputation as a kid with a ridiculous diva complex and sense of entitlement.

So he should have started Sharpley. Have Sharpley run the offense he designed for Clausen, and let Clausen work his way into the starting job. If we do that, we may be able to stay in today's game (although there are so many other breakdowns, I'm not sure the QB would have made the difference). More importantly, it gives the team an identity and a direction. Everyone knows what we are doing, and the team can focus on the gameplan. As in one. Rather than having what amounts to two different gameplans grafted onto one another.

I hope that once the dust settles and cooler minds prevail, that Weis will do what is best for this team, and name Clausen the starter. Use his iron fist and crush anyone who has a problem with it. Name Sharpley as the backup and scrap the entire spread option offense package and with it any hope that Demetrius will be back under center. Give DJ the option to switch positions, or release him from his scholarship after the season so he can pursue a starting job elsewhere. Take the lumps with the true freshman, and let him earn his team's confidence on the field, like Brady Quinn had to.

If he does this, I'm willing to accept that we'll struggle as Clausen develops chemistry with a team he hasn't repped with. I'll forgive the losses to Penn State and Michigan (which at this point are practically a foregone conclusion - Michigan will have bounced back from their far more embarassing loss to Div. I-AA Appalachian State by the time we roll into town). But this team will have an identity, a direction, and a plan to get there.

Preseason is over, coach. Get your shit together.


JMinSC said...

Weis, be honest: you got VERY lucky several times last season. 7-5 was a very real possibility and you know how close it came to being a reality. And now THIS is how you start this season? Are you kidding me? Please. This is NOT Notre Dame football. Your coaching sucked today. Failure of imagination more than anything.

And Minter Latina please. The O-line was a sieve all day long.

Don't let Jones anywhere near the quarterback position again. And definitely get Clausen in there so we can build for the future at least. He looked very poised out there today.

And, regarding recruiting: How the F can teams like Cal and Tenn get players like Justin Forsett, Desean Jackson, and Arian Foster, while ND gets stuck with chumps like Travis Thomas, Demetrius Jones and 'Slow Mo' Crum???


Elkona said...

In general, I enjoyed your analysis of the game. However I don't think that Weis will start Clausen. As well as the kid played, it was against Ga Tech's 2nd string and we should assume that Penn State, a ranked team from the Big 10, will be stronger. Sharpley will start this week -- under orders to do a better job getting rid of the ball. He won't, and eventually Clausen will replace him. The kid will play well but we'll lose. Then Clausen will start against Michigan in the Big House, and win.
I'm kidding about that last part. But wouldn't it make us all feel better?

Ryan said...

I agree with your assessment of the QB's 100% Domer Law. Clausen is by far our best option, but just wasn't able to take enough reps to start against G.T.

Take away Jones' 2 turnovers and Justin Brown's inexcusable late hit and the game would have been much closer. Sharply is too hesitant at QB, he doesn't know when to deliver the ball, nor can he get it there with much accuracy. And his overthrow of Grimes cost us a sure touchdown.

"we should assume that Penn State, a ranked team from the Big 10, will be stronger."

I completely disagree with this assumption.

Only USC will have a tougher defense than G.T. IMO. It was the worst possible match up for our young line and offense.

We will bounce back.

Zennie Abraham said...

Something in what you wrote is not logical. If Jones were not a quarterback, Weis would have placed him elsewhere.

Please -- think before you write at all times. What you're implying is that Weis is so terrible a judge of talent, that he would place a QB in, who didn't play during spring ball. Wait! What? You say he did?


That's the trap. This Jones is the same person who had a good spring -- didn't hear you saying he can't throw then.

Look, what I will ding Weis for is not understanding how to design plays that fit each QB's special style -- in other words, what they do best.

Weis tries to force-fit QBs into one system, and that will be his undoing. A true genius can see outside even his or her own box.

Brian said...

"you cannot win a game in this league without a passing threat"

What league? Notre Dame refuses to join a league/conference.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting comments. Travis Thomas is definitely out or at least should have been on Saturday. Aldridge and Allen should be in and so should Luke Schmidt. From what I saw in the limited plays on Schmidt at least he was able to pass block.

Neither Sharpley or Jones could hold onto the ball. Don't forget that Sharpley fumbled the ball 3 times in which he lost it once. We need someone that can take care of the ball and it will have to be Clausen. I know Weis will not start him, so get use to Sharpley being the quarterback for now. As for running, ND has not been able to run the ball since Weis has been there. Sure we can run a delayed draw but that is about it. I was impressed with Allen. The only thing I noticed was that he did not run as hard after he almost fumbled the ball. Looks like he is playing with fear. Relax and have fun. What do you have to lose.

I was not shocked on Saturday. I saw what I expected. A lot of inexperience. The Irish will be fine and Charlie will do a great job. He does need to start making tough decisions and make choices on who is guys are. Quit trying to please everyone. Tank Thomas and quit worrying about players transferring. Build a USC mentality. It is OK for good players to wait their turn. Play the talent.

Anonymous said...

You will see a different team on Saturday against Penn State. I will say it now. We will be in this game and might even win. No way Penn State will bring the type of pressure GT did. They don't know how to.

James said...

You are all being too hard on Sharpley. He fumbled because he was trying to back pedal to soon before fully having the ball...but can you blame him? The rush pressure was immense. The line blocked like a they were brought in from a class D highschool.The times when Sharpley had time in the pocket he looked very sharp to me. Most of his balls were right on target.

Anonymous said...

This loss is entirely on Weis, and his post-game acceptance of responsibility does not excuse what I think was te worst gameplan in the history of gameplans. Despite trying to be secretive and sneaky, he failed in both regards.

He tried to keep the starter a secret but apparently forgot to tell his quarterback to shut his big fat pie-hole. If I were Weis, Jones would be kicked off my team when I learned he texted his mom saying, "I'm gonna make you proud." Also, Weis does nothing to Jones when he hears Jones' HS coach going to the press with "Jones has been taking the most reps..." when Weis earlier in the week says the starter is taking the most reps??? Gailey said they knew who the starter was going to be. (I'm not faulting Weis for the attempt at secrecy; I agreed with the reasoning, its the complete failure to keep it a secret that's the problem.)

Adopting a brand new offensive scheme was clearly the wrong game plan for a whole bunch of reasons, the most obvoisu of which is that GT knew what the game plan would be. Chan gailey said in his post-game that he was aware Weis went to West Virgina and talked to them about their style of offense. Weis basically handed him their playbook.

My only concern with this loss is the impact on recruiting. It would not surprise me if we lose recruits that attended the game. It would not surprise me if we lose some who are already committed. I would seriously reconsider if I was a top prospect and this is the product Weis is selling. Weis' four rings are meaningless now.

tksd said...

Agree with anonymous re Thomas. The guy is a huge class act, and may be a great leader on the team, but come on, he isn't a first class running back. If the O-line can get their shit together by opening up some running lanes for Allen and Aldridge, then the passing game will open right up for someone with Claussen's accuracy. Also, I agree with domerlaw that the receivers actually looked pretty good the few times they were thrown the ball.
Get Thomas out, Allen and Claussen in, and teach the O-line how to block and there may be hope.

jim / Redondo Beach said...

What about the lack of team speed? Compare ND to Cal or Clemson...