Jimmy Clausen has had a couple of opportunities to prove himself in big games this year and while he has not necessarily failed any of the tests, he has not passed them with honors either. The sophomore quarterback's next chance to show that he can carry this team will come in Chestnut Hill on Saturday.
While no one has plainly said that Boston College has the best defense that the Irish have faced so far, it is clear that this is Notre Dame's final chance to compete against a nationally recognized defense before it heads to Los Angeles.
"I think statistically they're probably the best defense at number 10 in the country. North Carolina was the best pass defense I think in the country, leading in interceptions," Clausen said. "I think we just have to do what we have to offensively and be prepared for Boston College is going to do defensively."
"They're a real physical defense. It starts up front with their two inside tackles. They're pretty big guys, 6-3, 6-4 about 325 both of them," he said. "Real physical up front, linebackers have a real good core, their secondary is real good and physical as well. They're the number 10 defense in the country, so it's going to be a big test for our offense."
Boston College does an excellent job of disguising its coverages in the secondary by lining up in a four-shell look on virtually every play.
"I think that's one of the biggest challenges for myself and the receivers and tight ends," Clausen said. "They look the same every single time they go out there and when you snap the ball they're doing something different so that will be a challenge for us. We've just got to watch a lot of tape, study their tendencies, what they do in different situations and just be prepared for what they do."
Clausen talked about the frank meeting that he had with Weis after the Pittsburgh game.
"He was the bad cop. He expects a lot of his players and expects a lot out of me," Clausen said. "We went through the tape and he just told me what he expects and after that meeting we just moved on."
The quarterback was asked if the head coach offered any complimentary words.
"Not really," he laughed. "Coach Powlus did that later."
But Clausen expects as much out of himself as anybody and did not take the meeting personally.
"Everything he said I listened and just soaked like a sponge," he said. "That's why I came to Notre Dame, to be taught by Coach Weis, to learn under him and help him make me the best player I can be.
"You just look at Coach Weis' track record coaching guys like Tom Brady, Brady Quinn, Phil Simms. He's just been around for a long time and he knows what he's talking about and he's one of the best in the business."
He said that there has been no change in Weis since he started recruiting Clausen in high school and offered an endorsement of Weis as a coach.
"It's great playing for Coach Weis. He's been everything that he was when he was recruiting me. He hasn't changed since he was recruiting me," Clausen said. "Just a great guy, great to be around, great for this team and university."
Weis said that his quarterback has been a bit banged up all year and Clausen certainly looked like it at practice on Tuesday, but he said that he's fine.
"I'm just sore a little bit from the game Saturday, but I'm alright," he said.
Clausen never missed a game in high school, but sat out a couple of games with overall soreness as a freshman at Notre Dame.
"Being a football player, it's a physical sport, you always think that you can go. You always want to try to go," he said. "But if it's in the best interest of the team and Coach Weis decides if you're good enough to play and help the team win and if you're not healthy enough to help the team win then they're going to play someone else."
When asked if he thinks he was healthy enough to help the team win in those games last year, Clausen responded, "To be honest, no."
But Clausen had no trouble when asked about if he would be able to help his team win this weekend.
"Yeah," he said, surprised that it was even a question.