Weis Toeing the Line on Clausen Injury
At Charlie Weis 's weekly Tuesday noon press conference earlier Tuesday, the first question that the Notre Dame head coach fielded concerned his junior quarterback's injury status. And you can bet that Weis knew that would be the opening inquiry.
"The MRI came back negative other than him having turf toe," Weis said in response to AP writer Tom Coyne's question. "The rumors of him having a broken bone in his foot are incorrect."
Weis elaborated that Clausen was in a protective boot this morning and that he planned on holding him out of practice on Tuesday afternoon. He did say that he expects Clausen, who currently is rated 2nd nationally in passing efficiency, to play Saturday.
That said, the NCAA is not the NFL. Teams are not required to provide a weekly injury report as they are in the NFL (how else could Vegas produce an accurate spread?). And thus, there is no conceivable advantage to be gained by Weis by being 100 percent forthcoming about the nature of his most vital player's injury.
At his Sunday press conference, I asked Weis, "Is there any reason why you would let us know or the fans know the nature of Jimmy's injury if he's suiting up next Saturday?"
The CW chuckled. "There's no way I would do that, no," Weis said.
"Look, you're going to be out there practicing on Tuesday, okay?" he added. "If Jimmy can go on Tuesday, he'll be out there and practice on Tuesday as well."
It's Tuesday and guess what? Jimmy can't go.
Don't misunderstand me. This is not a story of internecine plots, of clandestine deviousness. Weis says that Clausen has a turf toe -- which is painful enough -- and I take him at his word. My point is that Weis is under no obligation to be forthcoming on this topic. And that he knew that the question was coming. If Clausen did have a broken bone in his foot, why ever would Weis reveal as much?
Clausen, who has only been sacked twice, has yet to toss an interception in 91 attempts; his passes are delivered with pinpoint precision and he's won over just about every last doubter who ever typed his name and the term Hum-vee in the same sentence. In short, he has been excellent. Here is what one NFL scout told FanHouse's Thomas George:
"I have been watching this kid closely since he came in. He has gotten a lot better. His confidence is better ... He is not going to be the first pick in the draft next year but I fully expect him to come out ... He is going to be in the first round. And the rest of the year he is going to play better. He could play well enough to get into the top 10 picks, but I don't think so. But he can be a great value pick in the middle of the first round. Once you get past pick No. 10, and you are sitting there needing a quarterback, it will be tough to pass on Clausen."
Former quarterback Steve Beuerlein played most of his junior season in 1985 nursing a torn rotator cuff: there's a reason a guy who'd last 17 NFL seasons only threw three touchdown passes with Tim Brown at wideout (Gerry Faust's play-calling was no help, either). Tim Brown reportedly concealed a bad thumb injury in the midst of his '87 Heisman season because the Irish were concerned opposing defenses would key on it.
Football isn't baseball. Being Curt Schilling here is just asking for more pain.
Two weeks ago to the day middle linebacker (a.k.a. Mike) Toryan Smith suffered a minor injury in practice. Weis next met the media on Thursday and by then must have had a decent idea that his most heralded freshman, Manti Te'o, would be making his first career start in Smith's place. But we in the press failed to ask if there were any injuries that would affect the depth chart, and Weis did not feel obliged to share.
Why should he have?