Last April, Clausen was one of four scholarship quarterbacks who suited up for the Irish in their annual spring scrimmage. On Saturday none of the other three were in uniform at Notre Dame Stadium. Two of them, Zach Frazer and Demetrius Jones, have since transferred. The other, Evan Sharpley, was in Morgantown, W. Va., where on Friday night he hit his team-best eighth home run of the season for the Fighting Irish baseball team. Sharpley will play football next season, but on this day the only other scholarship quarterback at Notre Dame was incoming freshman Dayne Crist.
Clausen finished 3-of-7 in last year's spring game. Today he was 10-of-27 for 183 yards. The top two receivers (Kamara and Tate) and top two rushers (Hughes and Armando Allen, who gained 53 yards on 11 carries) will be sophomores in 2008, as will Smith, as will starting linebacker Kerry Neal, as will nose tackle Ian Williams, the best defensive lineman on this team until Pat Kuntz returns.
Sophomores. Students who, with the exception of Clausen and Allen (who enrolled mid-year of 2006-2007), have yet to experience spring final exams in college. In other words, as young as the 2007 Irish seemed, the 2008 edition may seem even younger. The 2007 Irish still had vestiges of its BCS teams on the roster, players like John Carlson, John Sullivan, Travis Thomas and Tom Zbikowski.
When the Irish host San Diego State on September 6th, though, just three seniors will start and all of them on defense: inside linebacker Maurice Crum, safety David Bruton and -- if his academic situation is resolved -- defensive lineman Kuntz. Last year was a transition year. 2008 is "Charlie Weis: The Next Generation."
The stakes in today's game were not victory and defeat but rather steaks. The winning side was to receive steak and lobster for dinner while the losing team would dine on franks and beans. Thus, it was somewhat comical, as will as indicative of how important it is for the 2008 Irish to feel good about themselves offensively, when Kamara's catch was ruled a touchdown. Almost immediately afterward the press box announcer, as if reading minds, said, "There is no instant replay in a Blue-Gold scrimmage."
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
"That should have been a sack," griped safety David Bruton. A sack would have been worth two points, giving the Gold (or defense) the victory. Instead, Clausen took a knee, in effect saying, "Let them eat pork."
Clausen, Hughes, Allen, Kamara and Tate. And on defense McNeil. Williams, Darrin Walls and Harrison Smith. These sophomores represent most of Notre Dame's playmakers for the coming season, while incoming freshmen such as wideout Michael Floyd and tight end Kyle Rudolph will hope to contribute as well.
Thus, when you ask, "How did Jimmy look?" understand that what you really want to know is how did Notre Dame's sophomore class look. The short answer is that the kids are all right. Not as good as they will be, but better than they were.
Will Charlie Weis field a better football team in 2008 than he did in 2007? There are two answer questions to that question: 1) He better and, 2) Notre Dame fans cannot wait until 2010.
Lingering questions were answered emphatically by the 2012 team, but 2013 is an all-new season that brings all-new question marks. Brian Kelly feels fairly confident his offense is in a great position to take a step forward, but to do that, they’ll need the services of some under-the-radar players.
Notre Dame's 2012 season
Check out some of the best images from Notre Dame's 2012 season.
Meet the 2012 Irish
Take a look at some of the key contributors for Notre Dame this season
2012 Notre Dame opponents
Take a look at some of the key players the Irish will face this season
Check out some of the college football cheerleaders from across the country.