Trying To Get It

Brady Quinn had "that special it," according to Notre Dame head football coach Charlie Weis. It, is the ability to lead a team, lead an offense, make plays, win games, etc. The list of intangibles on top of that probably goes on. Though Weis didn't give his definition of it on Monday, he is a long ways from determining if his four starting quarterback candidates have what Quinn had.

Junior-to-be Evan Sharpley, sophomores-to-be Demetrius Jones and Zach Frazer, and freshman Jimmy Clausen are just trying to get it, regarding the Notre Dame offense and what Weis wants from them on every single play.

"Lets let them get through shell shock first of all," Weis said following the team's fourth spring practice. "There is a lot of pressure right now on these guys. They're getting a lot of coaching from (Irish quarterbacks coach) Ron (Powlus) and myself, and the other coaches from time (to time), especially coach (Mike) Haywood at certain times. But they're getting a lot of coaching, and they are getting scrutinized. They know that this is a competition, and everything they do is part of the evaluation.

"Throwing that on top of that everyone in the free world knows there is going to be a new quarterback at Notre Dame, I think we'll find out if somebody has that something when the time comes," Weis continued. "Right now I think it would be a little early in the evaluation period to come out with that one."

If anyone had that so-called it compliment from their experiences on the prep level, it's Clausen. What defines that the most, was not the U.S. Army All-American Player of the Year Award or being named USA Today Offensive Player of the Year, but the 42-0 record as a starter and the four state championships at Oaks Christian High in Westlake Village, Calif.

However, none of that stuff matters anymore. Clausen is competing against three guys that could likely play at many other major colleges. Sharpley, Jones and Frazer have accolades and talents as well. While they've been in the system for a season, Clausen is getting his first taste of major college football.

"It's four days," Weis stated. "I think he's made progress and we've seen some encouraging signs, but it's way too early for me to be jumping on anyone's bandwagon. He's done some encouraging things in the first four days."

With just two collegiate passes, both thrown by Sharpley, returning to next year's roster , Weis is treating all the quarterbacks as if they were in Clausen's situation this spring. Weis has started over, just like it was his first day with Quinn two springs ago, implementing the offense.

"For me, everyone is new in the system, because I am kind of starting from scratch," Weis said. "So (Clausen) isn't far behind on that end, because I am installing everything as if they are hearing it for the first time. Because he doesn't have the luxury of having heard the terminology and running the whole operation before in this system, just I think more than the plays themselves, it's just how they run the operation. I've been very encouraged by that, because that's the first part of being a quarterback, is being able to take the play call, call it in the huddle, and get to the line of scrimmage and run the whole operation. So, he's handled that part of it relatively smoothly."

With Weis starting from scratch, Sharpley has been over this stuff the past two seasons.

"I'd say if there is anyone that would have an obvious slight advantage through experience it would be him," Weis said. "Not necessarily the playing time, but the fact he was around me a lot that when I would be talking to Brady, he would be standing right there. I think that is a plus for Evan, but when it is all said and done, every one of the them is hearing the same stuff. So when I talk to Evan the other three guys are hearing what I'm saying, where as if this was the season, whoever the quarterback would be, the other three guys might not be sitting there when I'm talking to that one guy. That's a big difference."

Weis said his aim is to trim the four-quarterback race to two heading into the fall's training camp. From there, he hopes to have at least one guy show they have that special kind of it. Top Stories