In the second half, number 7 picked up right where he left off, finishing 15-18 for 315 yards and 4 touchdowns. The junior QB — whom many feel has nearly as much riding on the fortunes of the Irish this season as Weis — showed off his strong arm, precise accuracy, and most importantly his intelligence for the position, indicating he may have finally combined all the tools necessary to run Weis' demanding offensive schemes. While the opposition will get tougher quickly, Clausen looks to have finally harnessed his wealth of raw talent and assimilated those attributes into effectiveness running the same system that made cerebral QBs Tom Brady and Brady Quinn stars on their respective levels under Weis's tutelage.
On the receiving end of the majority of Clausen's work was 6-3, 220 pound speedster Michael Floyd. While his counterpart Golden Tate received most of the hype this offseason the sophomore Floyd is immensely talented, capable of using his size, speed, and agility to totally hijack a game.
Floyd was a man amongst boys on Saturday, pulling in 4 of Clausen's passes for a whopping 189 yards and three touchdowns. Michael provided Clausen with a fast and tall target downfield, a tool the quarterback fully utilized most notably on a 70-yard touchdown connection in the 2nd quarter, the third longest pass play in Notre Dame football history. And while it was Clausen making the throws, it was Floyd's amazing ability to pull in receptions with a defender in his face, all while maintaining his balance to collect yards after the catch, that made this prolific connection possible the entire game.
Notre Dame has their first real test of the season next week against historical rival the University of Michigan. While U. of M. has struggled mightily in recent seasons they too dominated their "tune-up" game against Western Michigan on Saturday, and look poised to improve upon their dismal three-win 2008 campaign. But while the Michigan squad is hampered by a number of glaring weaknesses and issues (their inability to pick a starting QB not the least of them), Notre Dame is seemingly perfectly constructed to finally, truly, make their much fabled, never materializing, rise back to national prominence.