Holiday, Jenkins Looking for More Production

<P>The success of the Irish passing game in 2003 will likely depend on a number of factors. Two main factors will be the play of Carlyle Holiday and Omar Jenkins. Irish Eyes spoke to both players at the Tackle the Arts event this past Saturday and both gave some insight into what to expect in 2003. Irish Eyes also spoke with reserve quarterback Pat Dillingham about his off-season. </P>

Starting quarterback Carlyle Holiday certainly looks impressive physically but Irish fans want to know how he has been progressing in his quest to master the Irish offense. Can we expect a more productive season from Holiday this year? "I think so," said Holiday. "Just being in the system one year it was bound to happen. You're going to feel more comfortable in all aspects with your receivers and delivering the ball and everything you need to do. I think now we're all comfortable. Everything is going so smoothly and we're now just going out playing instead of having to think about everything in our heads. Everything is good right now."

Holiday says that everything is coming quicker to him right now. "I just see things better. Just being in the system for a while makes you stop thinking and just reacting. I feel like I'm making my reads better and I'm more accurate with my passes. I just feel more comfortable with what my job is and that gives me confidence in making the right decisions. The receivers also understand it better so they are reacting at the same time as me and that will make us a better offense."

Holiday was injured more than once last year from taking some hard hits. Holiday believes that even with an inexperienced line that the offense can be successful. "I think they realized what situation they are in and they've worked extremely hard, especially the guys we have now. It's such a competition right now in that area. I think they know that if they don't protect the guy throwing the ball or running the ball that you're not going win many games and that's their focus right now. They realize they have a job to do and I think they're going to do a good job protecting us."

Wide receiver Omar Jenkins will enter his final season at Notre Dame. Jenkins will likely take over the playmaker spot left by Arnaz Battle—a role Jenkins really wants. "The work ethic has been great and I expect that out of everyone in the receiving corps. Rhema (McKnight), Mo (Maurice Stovall), Ronnie (Rodamer) and Matt have all been working real hard this off-season. I kind of want the role of being that guy. I cherish the pressure and I want the pressure to perform well to be on my shoulders because I am a senior. I want to be the guy that everyone looks to because that is my role. I hope more pressure is placed on me because that means I'm getting the job done."

Jenkins sees a definite improvement in Holiday since last year. "He's a lot more poised and he's a lot calmer out there. His reading of defenses has really improved and the way he reacts during the plays has really improved. I think he's improved a great deal."

Jenkins has also had a first-hand look at freshman quarterback Brady Quinn. Jenkins likes what he sees in Quinn and thinks the Ohio prospect has a bright future. "He's a big kid with a strong arm. He's a lot bigger than I thought. I see a lot of potential in him and I kind of wish I was a freshman to see how he does a few years down the road. I see a bright future for him."

Reserve quarterback Pat Dillingham appears to be a man on a mission. The slightly-built Dillingham went to work on his body and the results are noticeable. "I've put on a lot of weight. Towards the end off the season I got down to about 200 and I'm 216 right now. I'm just trying to put on some weight so I can take some hits. I'm just trying to get stronger all over, my arms, legs, everything. You are never strong enough and I just want to get bigger, stronger and faster."

The second string quarterback position was a hot topic in the spring and it will continue in the fall. "There's been a lot of talk about the second string spot but I'm not really paying attention to that. I'm just going to go out and compete and when everyone plays his best it just makes everyone better. I'm not too worried about what people are saying. I'm just going to go out and work hard and whatever happens will be best for the team. We've got to all remember that we're all working towards the same goal for the team."

Dillingham came in as a long shot at best. Coming in as a walk-on, Dillingham got to fulfill a dream of a lifetime by playing considerable minutes as the starting quarterback for Notre Dame. "It's one of the greatest feelings ever. A lot of people didn't expect it. The first time I played in the Maryland game last year, I was so excited because it was so hard to get to that point. The team doesn't expect anything less of me just because I walked on. They expect me to work just as hard as any player out there and I expect the same from myself. I'm just going to compete the best that I can and see what happens in the future."

The scuttlebutt has been that Holiday has greatly improved on reading defenses and knowing the offense. He's become a much more polished passer and more efficient as a quarterback. Jenkins should surprise a lot of people this year because he simply makes plays. As for Dillingham, I wouldn't count out Pat Dillingham for the second string job just yet. Dillingham looks a lot bigger and if he's improved his arm strength, he might just hold onto that backup job.


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