Jimmy's Ready For Jump

Jimmy Clausen met with the media on Saturday for the first time this spring. Clausen and Charlie Weis talked about his performance in the Hawai'i Bowl and about what the quarterback needs to do to improve in 2009.

Charlie Weis believes that it will be hard for his quarterback - or any quarterback for that matter - to play better than Jimmy Clausen did in his last game.

Clausen completed 22 of his 26 passes for 401 yards and five touchdowns without an interception in leading the Irish over Hawai'i in the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl.

"Fortunately/unfortunately he pitched a perfect game his last game. So that's the bar. He threw 26 passes, completed 22 with four dropped balls, it doesn't get any better than that," Weis said. "That might be the best game he ever plays. You don't play any better than that. You throw 26 passes, you hit the guys in the hands 26 times, a bunch of touchdowns, a bunch of yards. So that's the last vision he has of playing."

Clausen hesitated to call his first postseason game perfect.

"There's little things that I thought I did wrong in the game and hopefully I can improve on them and play better games than I did against Hawai'i," said Clausen. "Making the Mike IDs, throwing a swing route with seven guys in the box and just little things like that.

"Like Coach Weis told me, that might be the best game I ever play in my life. The bar is set high and I want to try to play as best as I can and play on that level every single game."

For Clausen and the entire team, the bowl win provided a big boost heading into the offseason and right into the spring.

"It was huge coming off the ‘SC loss where we didn't play very good at all. Just getting the confidence back and winning the last game of the season, especially in a bowl game," said Clausen. "We went out there yesterday and it felt like we just beat Hawaii and we're moving on from there."

Clausen believes that Notre Dame's potential heading into 2009 is boundless.

"The sky's the limit for us," he said. "It's just going to depend on how hard we want to work each and every day and how much time and effort we're going to put into watching tape, learning the playbook and on the field."

The quarterback did not separate himself from the team when asked of his own potential.

"I can be as good as I want to be, just like the team can be as good as we want to be," he said. "We've got to put the time and effort in to study film and study the playbook."

Weis acknowledged that his quarterback was inconsistent over the course of 2008, but expects Clausen to be more of the player he was in Honolulu than the player he was toward the end of the regular season.

"You want to shoot for that performance every game. I don't know how many guys throw two perfect games, but that was one of them," said Weis. "You've seen that happen, you're counting on being closer to that and being closer to that than the flip side that we've seen as well."

Clausen has gone back and watched all of his games from 2008 and believes he has an understanding of what went wrong when he did struggle.

"Just a bunch of different things. It's not really just one specific thing," he said. "Looking back, I saw pretty much what the reasons were whether it was me or a receiver running the route. Just a bunch of different things."

Clausen did not blame any of his struggles on his health.

"I'm always banged up, but I was fine," he said.

One area that Weis wants Clausen to improve in is his movement in the pocket.

"I made a big cut up tape of Tommy Brady moving in the pocket. Now Tommy's never been known to be the fleetest of foot, but he's the best I've ever seen -- probably the best since Marino that I've seen of moving in the pocket," said Weis.

"Knowing where the pressure is, being able to slide to your left or slide to the right or step up or step back without bailing out of there. Then being able to look down field and see where your receivers are and still be able to throw them the ball."

Clausen said that he has benefited from watching his coach's former pupil.

"(Brady) does a lot of good things in the pocket that I obviously need to work on, which is one of my weaknesses right now. I need to make it into one of my strengths," he said. "Just watching a guy like Tom Brady that does it so well is easy for me and the rest of the quarterbacks to watch and see what he does."

Clausen will enter his junior year with an extra bit of motivation thanks to the seemingly sensitive nature of his coach's job status.

"He's the reason why I came here," he said. "It's my job to help the team and keep Coach Weis here for a long time. I take that upon my shoulders to do well so Coach Weis can be here for awhile."


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