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Dobbs is ready to play vs. Notre Dame

Junior quarterback Ricky Dobbs practiced with the first-team offense on Monday and will start Saturday against Notre Dame, Coach Ken Niumatalolo said. It will be Dobbs's first start since Oct. 17 at Southern Methodist, the game in which he injured his right knee.

Dobbs said that he "feels great," though the muscles in his right leg are a little tight from the time off. He is wearing a black neoprene brace on his knee, which gives him a little psychological support, he said. He is looking forward to having a full week of practice to get his timing back.

"The last time I played, against SMU, there [were] times when my knee was bothering me," said Dobbs, who still leads the nation with 16 touchdowns. "I wasn't pitching [the ball] fluently; when I was running, I'd slow down a little bit or lean on my left side to pitch it. Today I felt better, as far as running and pitching without hesitating."

Dobbs was not expected to play against Temple, but he wound up playing seven snaps, with mixed results, in the 27-24 loss on Saturday. He was stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-one play early in the second quarter, and was 0 for 3 on pass attempts and was sacked once when he took over for Kriss Proctor on the final series of the game.

"It was my decision to play" Dobbs, Niumatalolo said. "It was a critical fourth down, and in my mind, there's a reason he's rushed for 16 touchdowns. He's a hard guy to tackle. … I didn't know if he was full go, but he did enough [in practice and in pregame] that I was like, 'I'm going to take a chance on this one play and see if he can get a yard.' We weren't planning on him playing. We were trying to give him another week of rest. At the end [of the game], it was just he's our best thrower."

Dobbs looked strong when he was forced to tuck the ball and run on one play in the fourth quarter, and he gained 10 yards. That was the first time that Dobbs ran full-speed since the SMU game, and "it gave me a little bit of confidence in the end, to get up and not feel anything," he said.

By Camille Powell  |  November 3, 2009; 9:45 AM ET
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