Davie names Godsey new starter
By TIM CASEY
Assistant Sports Editor
He was recruited here as a tight end, played only two seasons at quarterback in high school and has never taken a snap in a college game.
But on Saturday, sophomore Gary Godsey will be the starting signal caller when Notre Dame hosts No. 12 Purdue.
"I'm ready," Godsey said after practice Monday. "I've just got to keep calm and slow things down. With the athletes I have around me, I don't think that will be that big of a problem."
Godsey was thrust into the role after Arnaz Battle fractured the navicular bone in his left wrist on the first play of Saturday's 27-24 loss to Nebraska. Battle will have surgery Tuesday and have a screw placed in the navicular.
According to coach Bob Davie, Battle will be out for a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks and that there's a "strong possibility" of Battle missing the remainder of the season.
"With each player it heals a little bit differently," Davie said. "We're not going to even risk it to bring him back until it's fully healed. I think the right decision has been made. It's what's best for him."
Davie announced his decision to the entire team before practice Monday, a day after saying the position was open for competition. The 6-foot-6 inch, 235-pound Godsey beat out freshmen Jared Clark, MattLoVecchio and Carlyle Holiday for the starting nod. In the hours after hearing of Battle's injury, several players approached Davie and unanimously pleaded for Godsey as the starter against the Boilermakers.
"That was important to me," Davie said. "Our players feel good about it, they're excited about Gary Godsey."
LoVecchio, a 6-foot-3 inch 200 pounder from Franklin Lakes, N. J. worked as the backup Monday but may not necessarily be the second quarterback in the future
"I'll be studying as much as I can, being attentive in films," LoVecchio said. "Being in there and getting snaps will really help."
"We feel right now that Matt LoVecchio, at this point, probably has a little better grasp at what we're doing offensively as far as all the checks, getting us in the right formation and the right plays," Davie said. "But that doesn't mean that we're down on the other two guys [Clark and Holiday]. We certainly realize their athletic ability.
"It's a short-range thing that Matt LoVecchio's the backup quarterback. But it's a pretty permanent thing right now that Gary Godsey's the starting quarterback."
Godsey came to Notre Dame last fall after throwing for more than 1,800 yards and 22 touchdowns at Jesuit High School in Tampa, Fla. But because of his size, Godsey was initially a tight end prospect. When C.J. Leak spurned the Irish (and signed with Wake Forest) on signing day in February 1999 and Eric Chappell was dismissed from the team last September, Godsey became the third-string quarterback behind Jarious Jackson and Battle.
He entered last spring as the backup to Battle and completed 12 of 23 passes for 148 yards in the Blue-Gold game. Godsey remained at Notre Dame for most of the summer and despite the addition of the three highly-touted freshmen, he remained the backup this fall.
"He's a very composed guy," Davie said of Godsey. "In practice he just stands there and scans the field, there's very little panic to him and I like the way he conducts himself and the way he controls the football team."
Since Battle, Joey Getherall, Brock Williams, Jabari Holloway and David Givens woke him up on Sunday morning and told him of Battle's injury, Godsey has been preparing for his major opportunity.
He has also been in touch with his older brother George, the starting quarterback at Georgia Tech, who completed 18-of-32 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown in a 26-21 loss to No. 2 Florida State on Saturday.
"He's a little bit beat up right now but he's given me confidence as well," the younger Godsey said. "He's put me in the worst scenarios to try to get me to think about what's going to happen. He's helped me out a lot."
With Godsey at the helm, the Irish offense will be limited. Davie expects to run little or no option plays and quarterback draws against Purdue when Godsey is in the game.
And though he "expects [Godsey] to play the whole football game" on Saturday, Davie has not ruled out using one of the freshmen in a limited capacity.
"As the week goes on, maybe we'll have a quarterback evolve that we can do some of those things with the option game, in a reduced role," Davie said.
Despite the unexpected loss of the only quarterback with any college experience, Davie remains confident.
"If you go back and look at that tape [against Nebraska] as an unbiased person, you've got a hard time saying who the No. 1 team in the country was as far as effort, as far as intensity and as far as physicalness," Davie said. "We've got a chance to have a heck of a team. And regardless of whether it's Gary Godsey or Arnaz Battle at quarterback, we expect to go win the rest of our football games."
All Sports Stories for Tuesday, September 12, 2000