Feeling better

Clausen condition improving; Allen will play vs. Washington

September 27, 2009, 11:08 PM

By: Eric Hansen

SOUTH BEND, Ind.  Charlie Weis' cell phone was filled late Saturday night with congratulatory text messages from NFL personnel types.

Jimmy Clausen

AP Photo/Darron Cummings

Jimmy Clausen showed his guts in leading Notre Dame to victory Saturday while battling turf toe.

The theme was fairly universal: It's good to see a quarterback with guts.

"The word might not have been 'guts,'" the Notre Dame head football coach said with a chuckle Sunday night, less than 24 hours after his Irish (3-1) rallied to a 24-21 victory over Purdue (1-3), behind hobbled quarterback Jimmy Clausen.

Weis may be setting himself up for an encore this Saturday.

He said Sunday that the plan is for Clausen to start and finish Saturday's upcoming game with Washington, then rest the nation's fourth-leading passer during ND's bye week -- Oct. 4-11.

Clausen played roughly half of Notre Dame's victory at Ross-Ade Stadium because of a painful turf toe injury, tag-teaming with sophomore backup Dayne Crist. Crist actually led the Irish to two first-half scores  and without completing a pass on either drive.

Crist finished 5-of-10 for 45 yards passing and netted 16 yards on four rushes.

Clausen was on the field, though, at the end, engineering one of the latest comebacks in ND football history. His fourth-down, 3-yard pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph with 24.8 seconds left completed the rally.

In the 72-yard, 12-play drive, Clausen was 6-of-9 for 69 yards.

But a day later, the biggest questions weren't about his guile, but about his toe.

"Actually his toe is a lot better today than it was last week at this time," Weis said of the injury suffered in the first half of ND's win over Michigan State on Sept. 19. "The toe was really swollen [last Sunday]. He was in a [protective] boot for a couple of days. Today he's not in a boot. The swelling is down.

"We're in this for the long haul. There's only so much rest you can get at this time of year. That rest is going to come next week."'

• Weis said running back Armando Allen is expected to practice with no limitations after missing the Purdue game with an ankle injury.

"I think Armando surprised me at how close he looked in pregame," Weis said. "I wasn't expecting him to look as good as he was. He was politicking during the game to get in there, but I think he could have played in this game."

Allen fell from being the 15th-leading rusher in the nation to 38th in the latest NCAA statistics over the weekend, based on per-game average, without playing a down.

When corrected, Allen will rank 13th.

The problem is that the Purdue stat crew listed Allen as ND's starting weakside linebacker instead of Manti Te'o. Both players wear uniform No. 5.

Since Allen was listing as having played and he accumulated zero rushing yards, his average dropped.

• Speaking of Te'o, it appears Weis is ready to take the training wheels off when it comes to playing the vaunted freshman from Hawaii.

"I think one thing we need to do both in practice and in games is just play him more," Weis said. "The only thing, when you have a young linebacker, you'll go through some growing pains. But I think that you'll see him just playing more. We talked about that today. I think as the year goes on, you'll see his playing time just increase more and more."

Eric Hansen covers Notre Dame for ESPNChicago.com and the South Bend Tribune.

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