Critique of Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen

Jim CowanCorrespondent INovember 18, 2008

I’m going to take a moment and dive into minutiae-ville for a few and discuss some things about young Jimmy Clausen that have bothered me this season. While these points are all small by themselves, taken as a whole, they damage the offense’s productivity.

First is the play action compared to the hand-off. What is the point of play action? In most cases, its to make the defensive backfield commit to the run play, to dupe them into making that step forward where once th

ey realize it’s not a run, they’re out of sync and hopefully out of the coverage pattern.

In a pro-style offense, the play action pass is a pivotal piece and selling the fake-me-out hand off is paramount. When a run is dialed up, look at how Clausen does it.

He sticks his arm way out with one hand holding the ball to hand it off to whomever, whether it be a run up the gut or off tackle, whatever. Okay fine, what’s wrong with that? Nothing, other than it's always the same style.

Now a proper play action would be to utilize the same mechanics but instead of handing it off, he pulls it back in last second to his gut, holds for a split second and hits an open Tate or Floyd down the sidelines. This is not how it happens though.

Clausen’s play action move is to double hand the ball and barely stick it out for a fraction of a second, while the back barely sells the handoff either. It doesn’t fool anyone anytime.

The next point is obvious…he’s staring down his receivers all too often. In the beginning of the season, he did very well moving the ball around to everyone. For some reason now he’s looking at Floyd or looking down Tate and that’s it.

Once he realizes defenses are hip to that game (those two for the long ball), he’s almost at a loss and lately either throws it away because he spent too long staring at them, or he tries to force it which ends up as a pickle.

Kumara has had some hiccups, but he’s still 6'5" and he’s got the talent. Tate and Floyd are obvious playmakers, and Grimes and Paris are great third receivers, complimenting Kumara. Rudolph, even if a rook, has shown he’ll have Fasano/Carlson hands down field as well. Basically…mix it up and don’t stare them down.

Third point, for God’s sake, man, running out of bounds for a two yard gain is better than chucking the ball to the cheap seats. We all know you’re not a running QB; we saw your frustration this week and some Navy clown almost ripped your head off.

I’m not saying, although I’d love it, you have to put your pads down and rip off a few extra after contact, but, sweet Jesus, you don’t have to toss the ball up to the cheerleaders because your there’s eight in coverage. Even every once in a while, the 6.4/40 will get you a couple yards!

My final point, clock/timeout management, it’s some of the worst I’ve ever seen. There is no conceivable reason why you should have to burn a timeout in the first few minutes. If you see an odd coverage, call an audible to counter and roll with it. If it’s busted play, so be it, but you’ve got to manage those timeouts a little better.

Now I understand Clausen is still young, I get that. The real problem I have is that these are all very coachable offenses and doing so is supposed to be Charlie’s wheelhouse.

I’m no expert by any stretch of any imagination, but I can see these flaws that I believe hurt the offense over the course of a game, and when the team plays a bunch of squeakers, a few botched plays makes a difference.