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In The Film Room with Tim Prister: Jimmy Clausen


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Tim Prister

IrishIllustrated.com Senior Editor


Read Tim Prister exclusively on Irish Illustrated:


When a high school player is ranked the No. 1 quarterback and top overall prospect in the country, a list of negatives is tantamount to blasphemy. He’s simply the best. What is there to critique?


When it comes to 6-foot-3, 200-pound quarterback Jimmy Clausen from Westlake Village, Calif., there isn’t much to dispute. Sure, the Clausen publicity machine has churned out enough hype to make Ron Powlus’ leap from high school to college ball nearly a decade-and-a-half ago seem like a mere blip on the radar screen. But most of what you’ve heard and seen about Clausen is true. He is a remarkable talent.


The numbers don’t lie. Clausen threw for 3,665 yards, a ridiculous 58 touchdowns and just six interceptions as a sophomore while completing 68.8 percent of his tosses. Last year, he threw for 2,778 yards, 30 touchdowns, and just five interceptions while completing 67 percent of his throws. You can’t underestimate such statistics. He’s the real deal.


Clausen’s greatest strengths are his pinpoint accuracy and quick release. He can be flushed out of the pocket and seem to be in trouble, and then all of a sudden, he flicks the ball in the direction of a receiver and 20-some guys (officials included) are chasing after the receiver who is crossing the goal line. There are times when you think the play is about to be blown up and instead, the scoreboard operator is putting points on the board for Oaks Christian.


Clausen is a chain mover. His ability to find people on the run is uncanny. There seems little doubt that Clausen will complete a high percentage of his passes on the next level. He is simply too accurate and gets rid of the ball too quickly not to have success throwing the football for the Irish.


Anything Charlie Weis installs for Clausen in the three-step drop should be virtually unstoppable, particularly now that the Clausen commitment has attracted some of the best prep wide receiver talent to look in Notre Dame’s direction. With Clausen, Weis can guarantee that the top receivers will have their hands on the football.


Clausen locks and loads as quickly as any high school quarterback I’ve seen, and his free and easy, whip-like throwing motion allows him to deliver the ball at a rapid-fire pace. Factor in the uncanny accuracy and you have a talent of freakish proportions.


So what is there to worry about? Well, let’s start with the overwhelming expectations. There are hundreds of great athletes that come out of the prep ranks every year. Some make it; many don’t. Those that don’t have difficulty adjusting to being accountable for their actions and taking responsibility. The Clausen family is well schooled in this area. You better be if you’re going to make your college announcement at the College Football Hall of Fame.


There’s little reason to believe that Clausen will struggle with the hype. He is the chosen one and he’s known it for some time. He doesn’t seem to have any problem in that area. Put him with Weis for four years and the Irish head coach is sure to smooth any rough edges.


Clausen is brilliant when he’s flushed from the pocket. He’s especially adept at making something good out of something that looks dangerous when he goes to his right.


But Clausen has not mastered stepping up into the pocket and making a throw with a rush in his face. Now, let’s understand that there probably isn’t a quarterback alive—amateur or professional—who has mastered making a good throw with a hard-charging defender in his face. Today’s defensive athletes are big, quick and strong, and can ruin a quarterback’s career. It is wise to steer clear of such threats.


But Clausen has a lot of work to do in this area. He is a bit gun-shy at the slightest indication that he’s getting pressure from the front side. He has a tendency to recoil even when the pressure is not yet extreme. Because he has exceptional accuracy and is a man among boys on his current level, he can get away with it now. At Notre Dame, however, he’s going to have to learn how to step up in the pocket and make that throw without flinching or recoiling.


Weis helped teach Brady Quinn and the Irish quarterbacks last fall how to step up and then slide to their left or right to buy more time and ease the defensive pressure. Clausen certainly has the physical skills to accomplish anything (he has exceptionally quick feet), and there’s no reason to believe he won’t adapt in this area.


But much too often, he’s content to just fling the football off his back foot, and on the college and professional levels, where defensive backs are much better equipped than Oaks Christian foes, Clausen’s margin for error will narrow rapidly. He also won’t be throwing in 75-degree, dry weather all the time like he’s been accustomed to in high school.


As far as critiques go, that’s about all I have. This guy is an exceptional talent, and if Weis can surround him with Duval Kamara, Arrelious Benn and Greg Little in the future, Notre Dame has a chance to be the most prolific passing team in the country.




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If Clausen picks up a portion of the playbook which I dont seem to see him having a problwm with,he very easily could start for four years at Notre Dame. The other kids are good but there not on Clausen's planet!

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Guest SirJohn

8) :cry: Disagree so here comes the 'incoming flak'


The 'kid' is still is High School. Dunno about dealing with the hype which is coming from his hangers on and fam. That's their fault and perhaps fans expectations? IT's Baggage.


I do know guys on team NOW unhappy with that hype. That's team disruptive. I kid you not and wish I was.


Long time to go so these stories just feed on ND. Our team hasn't practiced yet and really JC hasn't worked out with THEM either. Do we shoot all the guys that came in?


Cancell them for hype? Oh..... let Zach and Demi transfer right now? Why sit behind JC 3 more years when you can go win in another program?


Actually that baloon is so big you realize the only way it can go is "pop"?


Be thankful he's in and leave the hype far far away. 2007 is 14 months away. Let's not count chickens before they hatch or played their senior year in HS.


He's a verbed football player in my book. Good, not great or god.


We have a season to run right now that doesn't include him. He's zero, nada, zip and worthless in this season. Let's keep a perspective here.

We only have 8 verbs. We need 25. To me it's a side worry. Right now we have 25-28 guys sweating under Mendoza. Which are our hopes for 2006. How many want to drop out now?

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Who needs them!!!!! HA HA HA!!!!! Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy! The kid has gotten more press than Brady Quinn and the Shark!!! So, with that said, what do you think Weis is gonna do with the next coming of JC? He will sit his butt on the pine and go with experience until mid season! Little humble pie, if you will!!!!

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Guest NDLawJAG

I'm not sold on JC as the starter... I think he probably will be at some time, but 2007?? I think the player with the best grasp of the play book may start in 07, will it be for only one year like Lovecchio? I do not know. I look forward to the competition and am confident that CW will put the player in with the best chance of winning.


Now if there are player on the team that want to transfer because of all the press JC is getting then they should do it. I want players that are not affraid of the competition. I also want players that put the team first, and everyone should recognize that JC pub is good for ND. It helps with the other recruits out there and it has helped to make sure that ND is in the news constantly (along with Quinn Hype, Zibby fight, Shark's BBall, etc.).


I have said it before and I'll say it again, I can careless who the next starter at ND is as long as he wins.

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Guest Shamrock83

Who knows... maybe Clausen will be able to pick up the playbook at an extremely fast pace... they make it sound like he can do anything

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Who knows... maybe Clausen will be able to pick up the playbook at an extremely fast pace... they make it sound like he can do anything


Brady did.....and JC will have the same amount of time BQ did this past season.

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Guest JerseyDomer

I agree with you the Irishguy. Plus you can bet he'll be watchin every game this yr and tapin them and watchin them over and over to get a little feel that way.


and like you Law, I've said before I could give a rats ass who is behind center, as long as he leads us to National Championships, I wouldn't care if it were Mark May's son.

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This guy is an exceptional talent, and if Weis can surround him with Duval Kamara, Arrelious Benn and Greg Little in the future, Notre Dame has a chance to be the most prolific passing team in the country.

ND would be very tough to stop with these three plus ragone and reuland. in 2009 (CW 5th year and playing with all his recruites) ND will be impossible to stop.

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I really don't think people should disregard Sharpley to at least begin 07 as the starter. I'm usually one to say that experience isn't that big of a factor if you have the talent and smarts to play, but the QB position I generally feel different about. By this time Sharpley will have had 3 full offseasons getting acquainted with the playbook and offense and probably, for the time being, will be that much farther ahead of JC, ZF and DJ. With that said, a QB also needs PT and can't just sit on the sidelines if inevitably he gives you the best shot to win, even when not experienced. Personally, I like ZF and I'm very intrigued by the athleticism of DJ, but JC just may be too good to not start.


The kid has talent and thats obvious rather you like him or hate him. Some people may call him cocky while others proclaim he is confident but either way, chances are he'll be our starting QB for the next few years so you might as well embrace that and hope he does live up to the hype, not for himself but for the team.

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