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Jackson's Knee Ready for Gator Bowl

Quarterback set to take the snap on Friday.

December 30, 1998

By JR ROSS
Associated Press Writer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jarious Jackson didn't sound like someone who's spent the last five weeks rehabbing a knee that kept him out of Notre Dame's regular season finale.

"Great. I mean, you can't tell it's injured right now," the Irish quarterback said Wednesday when asked about the right knee injured Nov. 28 against LSU.

After missing the USC game and five weeks of workouts, Jackson has been eased back into No. 17 Notre Dame's Gator Bowl preparations for No. 12 Georgia Tech over the past two weeks.

He said he has no fear of going out Friday against the Yellow Jackets (9-2) and taking his first hit in more than a month or exposing himself while running the option, a staple in the running game for Notre Dame (9-2).

"I'll do whatever they call. Whatever they call, I'm going to run," Jackson said. "I'm just looking forward to playing the game. If I get hit, I get hit. If I don't, I don't."

Whether Jackson would be able to play and how effective he'll be after a month's layoff have weighed heavily on Irish coach Bob Davie. He held Jackson after practice Tuesday night to make sure his starting quarterback was ready to test the knee and give him the opportunity to opt out of Friday's game to save the knee for next year.

Jackson told him that wouldn't be necessary.

"Jarious progressed well all through the week," Davie said. "Going into it, we're making the right decision and, most importantly, because that's the decision Jarious wants. That combined with our trainers, I think we're doing the right thing."

Should Jackson be limited against the Yellow Jackets, freshman Arnaz Battle will again step in at quarterback. His debut against USC was disastrous, when he combined with fellow backup Eric Chappell to throw four interceptions while completing just 7-of-22 passes for 94 yards in a 10-0 loss. The four interceptions were just two less than Jackson had thrown in the previous 10 games.

Davie said Battle has improved since then, but whether he plays depends on how well Jackson performs.

"He looks good. I think, as we all know, it will be determined by how he plays in the game how much he's progressed," Davie said. "He's still inconsistent, which is to be expected for a young quarterback, but when he's good, he's real good. What we have to do is eliminate some of the negatives."

Despite Jackson's injury and the fact that he hasn't taken a hit in more than a month doesn't have Davie worried, either, and he said he wouldn't hold back anything from the Irish offense. That includes a healthy dose of the option, which has helped the Irish run for 212 yards a game, 16th best in the country.

"We're going to go about it, you know, because I don't think it would be fair, I don't think we'd be making the right decision if we limited him too much," Davie said. "If he was at that point physically that we had to limit, it probably wouldn't be the right decision to play him."

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