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Monday, June 22, 2009

Clausen At the Head of the Class

posted by Scott Engler
(The Rock Report) - So, I've read some "writers" and listened to some "look at me" talking heads opining about how Jimmy Clausen has been a disappointment so far. I can't imagine what their benchmark is other than their own fantasies.

At the same stage in his career, the NFL's number one draft pick, Matthew Stafford, had a 128.9 rating, threw for 2,523 yards, 19 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and for a 55.7% completion percentage. And that was on a Georgia team that averaged 4.6 yards per carry versus Notre Dame's putrid 3.4 yards per carry last season.

Clausen, behind a much less balanced offense and on a far less successful team, was ahead of Stafford in almost every statistical category at the same point.

What about Sanchez, the second quarterback taken in the NFL draft who came in with similar hype as Clausen? His stats were far worse than Clausen's after Sanchez's Junior year (a year ahead of Clausen) and Sanchez's sophomore stats (the same as Clausen's last year) were atrocious.

Two quarterbacks a year ahead of Clausen, McCoy and Bradford, stand out as far above the norm and better than Clausen at the same points in their careers, but both also played with veteran offenses. McCoy was only slightly better as a sophomore. Bradford was off the charts.

But by any other standard Clausen has performed well, he's just not been a savior. But outside of Tebow, McCoy and Bradford, there aren't many quarterbacks who've been better to this point, including Brady Quinn . If you truly want to mark Clausen's progress vis a vis his classmates, check out ESPN's top 15 below from Clausen's peer class. It's not much of a comparison. Jarret Lee has the closest statistical numbers and he's still far behind Clausen across the board.

Should have been Heisman trophy winner Vince Young completed 58% of his passes and threw for 6 touchdown passes against 7 interceptions his sophomore year. He didn't play at all as a true freshmen.

Heisman trophy winner Carson Palmer completed 55 % of his passes for 2,941 yards and 16 TDs with 18 interceptions as a sophomore.

Heisman trophy winner Matt Leinart didn't take meaningful snaps until his Junior year, his third in the program.

Heisman trophy winner Troy Smith didn't play as a freshmen, but completed 55% of his passes for 8 TDs and 3 Ints as a sophomore.

Brady Quinn completed 54% of his passes for 2,586 yards, 17 TDs and 10 Ints as a Sophomore.

In sum, by any reasonable non-emoting measure, Clausen, to this point, is far ahead of his peers and almost all of those who've preceded him. I've heard some continue to complain about Clausen's announcement speech and how he should be held to a higher standard because of that. And if we were a bunch of grudge holding high school girls outside a locker, I could see how you might hold that position, but otherwise that's just emota-whining and inane.

I would hope Irish fans have a little more maturity in them.

, to this point, has been, by far, the best quarterback of his top 15 peers in his class. The only quarterback of the same year who has better stats that I've seen? Nevada's Colin Kaepernick. They had the exact same quarterback rating last year. **Note: It was pointed out to me that Kaepernick redshirted and is a year ahead of Clausen.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


6/22/2009 11:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post. If JC was at any other school they would be saying how good he was after 2 years. Let the Irish have a decent running game and their offense has a chance to be lights out. JC must make the huge strides BQ did from soph to junior year.

6/22/2009 11:42:00 PM  
Blogger D Flo said...

thank you, finally people will read this and all the naysayers will realize how well clausen has done to this point. while he is still not at his full potential the foundation is there for him to have a great season, or two.

6/23/2009 01:20:00 AM  
Anonymous IrishGrassHopper said...

You state "... I would hope Irish fans have a little more maturity in them." ...

Me too. But the amount of that hope I allow myself to entertain is no greater than the hope I have that Charlie has finally learned how to coach a complete game out of a complete team for a complete season. In other words ... not much, sad to say, because I like this coach (and Irish fans) and want them all to succeed.

I remain concerned that the pounding Clausen was forced/allowed to suffer through in his frosh season will come back to haunt him -- in a manner almost like PTSD, since it was that scarring -- when he comes up against a difficult defense with a ferocious pass rush. If he learns to just remember, without reliving, that first season, the sky will be the limit for him. But that may not happen until he turns pro and relearns under a different coach.

It still remains in all likelihood that Clausen's numbers will only improve. But the success or failure of this year's team will still fall squarely and solely on Charlie's shoulders. The naysayers should keep that in mind and lay off blaming the quarterback should things go south this year.

Articles like yours give rational foundation for rational people to see this kid realistically. But who ever said all Irish fans are rational? Nicely done though.

6/23/2009 02:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one other than ND fans will read this, trying to get over on yourself it a waste of time. I think Jim can be a top 5 college QB this year, and I hope he comes back for his SR season, Tate, Kumara, Floyd and the TE make the options for an outstanding offense.

6/23/2009 08:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jimmy is a very good QB - will he become great remains to be seen, but with an improved OL and running game I believe that he will be regarded as a great QB - as a true frosh he was pummeled (not his fault) and as a soph he showed serious signs of growth - this team has the talent and the coaching and the desire - they may stumble but they will be a very ver ygood football team worthy of a top 10 finish. GO IRISH - seahilND90

6/23/2009 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

There is NO DOUBT Clausen comes back for his senior year. This story makes that perfectly clear. This year's class: Tebow, Bradford, McCoy.
Next year's class: Clausen.

6/23/2009 10:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watch for it from the pundits, who by and large do not like Clausen: if he has a great year many will dismiss it as "racking up stats on bad competition"...just like they said for Quinn in his senior season.

6/23/2009 11:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For a change I agree with the Rock. Tebow, Bradford, McCoy, none of those QB would have the numbers they did behind our O line and with our running game. Well done.

6/23/2009 12:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some interesting points and statistics were presented, and the following isn't intended to take away from what JC has done, but it would be interesting to see stats vs just top 25 competition or top 50 defenses, etc. I think Jimmy gets an incomplete at this point in his career

6/23/2009 12:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep in mind, too, that both Bradford and McCoy were technically redshirt sophomores during their phenomenal "sophomore" seasons. So, while it was only their second year playing, they had 3 years in the program.

6/23/2009 04:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice article, against the grain for NDNATION lately. I agree anywhere else Clausen would be widely praised for his efforts. I look forward to his junior year with anticipation. Hopefully the rest of the offense steps up as well.

6/23/2009 04:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clausen should have high quality numbers..how high depends on the OL's ability to improve it's "technique" with a quantum leap from last two years. Charlie and co. have great schemes but coaching 18-22 year old men requires a simplified and repetitious approach. I hope and pray my rosary those are the changes made in off-season.

6/24/2009 03:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can state that other QBs had phenomenal redshirt sophomore seasons, but you forget that Clausen's a couple of years older than the standard college QB. Purposely held back to mature and coached by an NFL QB's coach. He has yet to show any flashes of greatness and the Hawaii bowl game doesn't convince me otherwise. Up to this point, he hasn't lived up to the hype and is a borderline B-U-S-T.

6/25/2009 01:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post Rock.. Thank You.. I hope everyone had there fun..


6/25/2009 11:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not think you can simply discount ND's schedule here. The SEC defenses that Stafford faced at Georgia were far superior to the defenses of San Diego State, Navy, 'Cuse, and Washington. I recall a LSU defense wreaking havoc on Brady Quinn. Even more aptly put, how has JC done against top 25 teams? We did not get a first down until late in the second half against USC last year! I think the book is still open on JC in regards to his performance against high level competition. Unfortunately, we will not get any answers to this question in 2009 as USC appears to be the only tough team on our schedule.

6/25/2009 12:13:00 PM  

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