The obviously starting point for Saturday's game is Jimmy Clausen, and while pundits who note it's hard to take much away from a game where he was limited by both the offensive playcalling and defensive expertise are somewhat right, I saw enough to be happy. There were several times when he held onto the ball for too long, including the first sack of the day where simply stepping up in the pocket and delivering a strike to any of the open receivers (they all had separation to some degree, including a lonely John Carlson in the middle) would have warranted a first down, but these are correctable issues. If our biggest problems from Clausen in a game starting against those linebackers in that atmosphere is a moderate case of happy feet in leaving the pocket too soon and a willingness to hold onto the ball instead of just throwing it away, I think that's a very good thing.
Ladies and gentlemen, we finally have found our quarterback. He wasn't perfect by any means, but there were a lot of positives to Clausen's play. He throws a great ball, both accurate and quick. He was sacked a few times, but considering the line's play and the amount of times he was able to get rid of it, I can't really put too much blame in his hands. He seemed like a quarterback with a purpose, a leader that the offense sorely needs. Perhaps what I was most impressed with was his toughness. We hear about him being this prima donna, but that wasn't the case at all. He got up after every hit and was even getting on some of the wide receivers when they weren't on the same page as him.
Jimmy Clausen is going to be very good. He handled himself about as well as could be expected.
Clausen's statistics are nothing special, and he occasionally held onto the ball too long or tucked and ran too early. Yet Clausen did show the resilience and poise that Brady Quinn demonstrated in the losing effort against Purdue in 2003.
A complete dossier of all Clausen pass attempts: DRIVE ONE
- five yard swing to Armando Allen
- Allen dumpoff.
- Allen screen.
- Long handoff to George West.
- Nine yard scramble; does not see wide open Carlson in endzone.
- Swing pass to Allen for loss of one.
- Three yard scramble.
- Incomplete Armando Allen screen.
- Six yard completion to Duval Kamara on third and twenty-five.
- Long handoff to David Grimes.
- Pass to David Grimes for eight yards. Not specified what this is but probably a slant or an out given the description.
- Long handoff to David Grimes.
- Incomplete fade to George West.
- Pass to Armando Allen for seven yards. At the end of the half, Penn State is in a prevent.
- Scramble for ten yards. This runs out the clock.
- Armando Allen swing pass for one yard.
- Pass incomplete to John Carlson. Possibly dropped or batted away, apparently a good throw.
- Six yard dumpoff to Will Yeatman on third and eleven.
- Out incomplete to David Grimes on a sprintout.
- Scrambles for three yards on third and twenty. A roughing the kicker call gives them another opportunity.
- Pass complete to Golden Tate for 42 yard gain -- not specified what the route was; called back for holding.
- Dumpoff to Carlson for five yards.
- Incomplete to Grimes; details omitted.
- Incomplete to Grimes... nearly intercepted?
- George West screen for four yards.
- Pass complete to Robby Paris for 35 yards... lots of YAC apparently.
- Completion to Grimes for 14 yards.
- "Decent pass" behind Kamara that is dropped.
- Interception by Justin King on overthrown ball.
All this adds up to:
I was very encouraged by what I saw of Jimmy Clausen on Saturday. Did he miss some reads? Of course. Did he hold on the football a couple of times? Absolutely. But there was much to like about his performance on Saturday. The most important thing was his poise. ... Jimmy Clausen is special. The Irish have a future star.
Maybe he threw downfield three times and mostly against Penn State's backups long after the game was decided, but by God that's a special swing pass to Armando Allen.
The final word goes to Black Shoe Diaries:
Jimmy Clausen is the best screen passer I've ever seen.