Are you watching? No, I mean, are you really paying attention? If not, let me spell it out for you: Notre Dame’s quarterback is turning into a superstar.
Outlined against a bright blue October sky, Jimmy Clausen had another career-best day. For the second weekend in a row, the sophomore QB passed for three touchdowns, and made a career-best 29 completions on 40 attempts. Do the math. That’s a 72 percent completion rate, with no interceptions.
It’s not just the gaudy numbers. If you are indeed paying attention, the evolution of Clausen is impressive. His stats are eerily similar to those of Brady Quinn, who owns most of the Irish record book as quarterback. The difference is that Clausen is that good earlier in his career. But as I said, it’s not just the numbers.
To watch him play not only from last year to this year, but from San Diego State to Stanford is to watch him go from boy to man. Clausen’s early enrollment and 2007 baptism of fire are reaping huge dividends, and his command of not only Weis’s complicated New England Patriots playbook, but of the team itself, is growing.
Barring something unforeseen, Jimmy Clausen should be the leading Heisman candidate for 2009.
Of course, for the Irish faithful, Saturday’s win over the Cardinal was both gratifying and frustrating.
The frustration came in the fourth quarter, when a young Notre Dame team, who is not used to being so far ahead so early in the game, let down and thus let Jim Harbaugh’s over-confident Stanford team back in the game. Maturity will (hopefully) help them learn to play the full 60 minutes.
But the most gratifying aspect of the game was seeing defensive lineman Pat Kuntz make Stanford right offensive tackle Chris Marinelli eat a cold plate of his own words. If you’ll remember, Marinelli, a 6'7" 297-pound junior, shot his big fat mouth off about the upcoming game with Notre Dame.
First he expounded on playing at Notre Dame.
“I hate it, playing up there,” he said. “The field, excuse my language, the field sucks. The stadium sucks. I think the area sucks.”
Then, in true Stanford fashion, he just had to go further.
“I grew up with a bunch of Irish and Italian Catholic people back home, and all they talk about is Notre Dame this, Notre Dame that. And they’ve never even been there, you know? So I hate those guys. I hate that school.”
They must be proud. After all, this is the school that had their band permanently banned from the Notre Dame campus when, during its pre-game and halftime performances, it parodied the Irish Potato Famine and a band member dressed as a nun conducted the band with a crucifix instead of a baton. (The Stanford Athletic Department had reviewed and approved the band’s planned performances in advance.)
Marinelli might have gotten away with just being a typical Stanford a-hole, but he had to then call out the Irish defense
“Keep blitzing it, keep trying it,” he confidently said. “They have one sack all year in 200 blitzes. We are going to gash the (expletive) out of them, I promise you that.”
Pat Kuntz read Marinelli’s remarks at the Friday night pep rally. On Saturday he sacked Stanford quarterback Tavita Pritchard twice. By the end of the game Pritchard had been sacked a total of five times.
Chris Marinelli…you already issued a lame apology to Notre Dame. Now you need to apologize to Tavita Pritchard. Then practice shutting your big fat mouth.