Weis Notebook 8/20

After a Saturday story in the South Bend Tribune stated Notre Dame freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen was cited for transporting alcohol back in late June, it would only be a matter of time before the national press picked it up. On Monday, it didn't take long for SI.com and USAToday.com to both have the Associated Press account as one of their top stories.

Clausen, 19, was cited for the misdemeanor offense on June 23rd after a 23-year old bought alcohol at a liquor store near campus and got into a vehicle driven by the Notre Dame signal caller. Under Indiana state law, this is illegal and Clausen, along with the 23-year old, were given citations by Excise police. Clausen entered a pre-trial diversion program and paid a $170 fee, along with a promise not to repeat the offense for a year.

Clausen is in a battle with junior Evan Sharpley and sophomore Demetrius Jones for the right to start the opener September 1st against Georgia Tech. Head coach Charlie Weis met with the media for the first time since the story broke on Saturday. Weis said Clausen used bad judgment but that his freshman quarterback did not know about the law.

"I plead ignorance on that one," Weis said referring to the Indiana state law. "I would plead I don't know the law on that one. Was he in the wrong place at the wrong time? Absolutely. But I think it's out of ignorance and by that I mean lack of knowledge. I don't think he was defiantly trying to break the law."

In addition to being in the running to start at quarterback for Notre Dame, Clausen is the biggest recruit the Irish have landed in a long time. Along with this comes heavy media attention. After announcing his intention to attend Notre Dame at a press conference at the Hall of Fame in South Bend, Clausen was criticized for arriving to the event in a stretch Hummer limousine and with a entourage.

This off-season, after the freshman enrolled early to participate in spring practice, the media was playing a guessing game as to whether Clausen had a "procedure" done on his right elbow, as ESPN reported, and would be ready for fall camp. Clausen, who has been at every single practice in training camp, will meet the media for the first time since he's arrived at Notre Dame on Friday, as will all the other freshmen. It's a safe bet that Clausen's interview area will be the largest. It comes with the territory in being a hyped recruit and quarterback with the Irish.

"When you guys get to know this kid, he's just like every other kids here," Weis said. "That's what he is. The problem is that it's like that in life sometimes. I've had a lot of lessons I've been speaking with Charlie (Jr.) about this week over similar situations. I told him, ‘Charlie, this is the way your life is always going to be. Every time something happens, you're going to be scrutinized.'"

"It's being the quarterback at Notre Dame. We're talking about Jimmy. Another time, we'll talk about Demetrius. Another time, we'll talk about Evan. It's the quarterback position at Notre Dame. It's not just Jimmy. I'd like not to single out Jimmy but it comes with the territory. Fair or not, that's the way it goes."

Asked if Clausen's incident back in June was all cleared up, Weis responded, "That's history."

***It's a rainy Monday in South Bend. The precipitation has been falling pretty steady over the past few days. Usually, when it rains, Notre Dame heads inside to the Loftus Center. It's not a guarantee that every Irish game will be sunny with blue skies. So Weis took advantage of the inclement weather to prepare his team for slippery conditions.

"We had a pretty tough practice last night in the Stadium," Weis said. "I had officials in and got some practice in the weather. Anticipating today was going to be real bad and tomorrow the fields were going to be a quagmire with today's rain, I wanted to get in everything, from special teams to offense to defense."

Starting today, the practice schedule will change a bit. The first two weeks have been the first-team offense versus the first-team offense. On Monday, the preparations for Georgia Tech begins. Weis will use half the practice for individual drills and the one's battling each other and the other half employing show teams to get ready for the Yellow Jackets, who come to South Bend in less than two weeks.

***There's an open competition at the right defensive end spot. Fifth-year senior Dwight Stephenson, Jr. came back for another year and is in contention to start. The other player in the race is senior Justin Brown. The Clinton, MD native has been a reserve defensive end the first three years with the Irish that includes 18 career tackles and 1.5 sacks. Brown has come into camp noticeably bigger than last year and has drawn the praise from the coaching staff for his efforts on the field.

"He's probably, of the entire team, the most pleasant surprise of the team during training camp," Weis said of Brown. "It's not just his strength gains. It's his motor. That's what has really impressed me the most. He's always showed flashes. I've never seen him play with the motor he's got now and it's been encouraging."

***Weis said that Derrell Hand, who was suspended indefinitely after being arrested for soliciting of a prostitute back on August 2nd, will be going through "some things" in the next few days to clarify his status with the Notre Dame team. Hand entered into a pre-trial diversion program last week and the charge will be dropped if the junior can stay out of trouble for a year.

***On the kicker situation, there's a three-way race between sophomores Nate Whitaker and Ryan Burkhart and freshman Brandon Walker to handle the duties. At the August 11th open practice, Walker was the best that day while Weis said Whitaker had been tops so far in training camp. Weis thinks there could be a different player used for place kicking and field goal attempts.

"Just like at any other position, if they are too close to call, you try to give them one job rather than two," Weis said. "That's a possibility it can play out like that, too."

***On Saturday, former Notre Dame quarterback and current Cleveland Browns' signal caller Brady Quinn saw his first action in professional football. In the preseason contest against the Detroit Lions, Quinn was 13-for-20 for 155 yards, including two fourth quarter touchdown passes. The former Irish star was a holdout the first few weeks of training camp over a contract dispute. Quinn didn't look rusty on Saturday.

"To be honest, he didn't know if he was going to get in or not get in," Weis said. "I said to him that if you get in, you'll get in at the end of the game and you'll have your backups versus their backups and you'll have to play better with your backups. He didn't disappoint."

***Weis on junior David Bruton: "He looks like a man amongst boys out there. It's nice to see that tall, rangy kid get close to 210 and run like a deer and hit people and come around. Even though everyone knows he's been penciled in as the so-called starter, just the fact that he's elevated his play hasn't been a surprise but it's what you were hoping for."

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