When Jimmy Clausen exited stage left of last season, he did so in a way that can spark confidence amongst the foremost pessimists. It was a 49-21 thrashing over Hawaii in which he torched the Warriors for 421 yards and five touchdowns. To say he left on a high note would be like saying New York City pizza is just alright.
That’s the Clausen Notre Dame thought they were getting when he first committed to play for the Irish back in 2007. You can say - aside from that gem against Hawaii -Clausen hasn’t lived up to his billing, as the man head coaches from top programs were practically tug-of-warring over.
However, this is where you’re completely wrong.
Just for a second, imagine yourself playing as a freshman, a barely-mature 18-year-old, being thrown onto the field against the top football talent in the country. Guys who are literally three times the size of you, bull-rushing as if they possess horns and you’re wearing a jersey so red, it looks like an Oscar carpet.
But here’s the catch; there is no one to block these madmen. Only coarse turf and faded-white spray paint stands between you and Grave Digger. You’re measly bones rattle from shaking before the hit, and rattle from the inconceivable pain seconds after. And the most brutal part of it; you have to get up and do it again…For 60 minutes.
This was Clausen in 2007. He took more beatings than a 10-egg omelet.
That season, Notre Dame set an NCAA record for most sacks allowed in a season (59). 59! That’s just less than five sacks per game and
presumably why Clausen only threw for 1,250 yards and seven touchdowns. It’s a miracle he is still able to walk, let alone run a division 1 offense.
Fortunately for Clausen and the Irish, there was colossal improvement amongst the offensive line and in the quarterback’s stats. Only 22 sacks were given up- a difference of 39 in case you lack a first-grade math education- and Clausen threw for over 3,150 yards and 25 touchdowns.
With the ’09 season a mere five days away, statistics tell us Clausen and his offensive line will be even better than last year. And if this trend continues, be sure that Notre Dame won't play Hawaii to end the season.