Copyright by Global Electronic Telecommunications, publishers of IrishEyes.Com®
September 4, 2001
Irish QBs Provide Surprise Attack
By The IrishEyes.Com NewsService
NOTRE DAME, Ind. (IE)—You take your advantage where you can find it. Bob Davie is hoping for surprise.
The Irish are 14-point underdogs going into Lincoln, Neb., for their opener against the 2-0 Huskers on Saturday. Davie figures he's got the most talented team he's ever had in his tenure as head coach with Notre Dame, now entering its fifth year.
But there is this simple matter: Nebraska has been one of the teams of the 90s, it is at or near the pinnacle; and the Irish haven't come close to approaching the Husker's performance since 1993.
Nebraska has two games under its belt. Regardless of how you judge their opponents, TCU and Troy State, the Huskers have had the opportunity to work out the kinks in offensive and defensive schemes and, more importantly, get a taste of the speed of the real-game conditions and of game-contact.
The Irish, on the other hand, have had two scrimmages. Their quarterbacks, wearing red jerseys, have suffered no contact in practice. They can simulate game conditions all they want—scrimmaging at 7 p.m.—the same time as kickoff this coming Saturday; but everybody realizes practice is not the same as a game.
Nevertheless, Nebraska coach Frank Solich says the late-starting date for the Irish allowed them to focus solely on the Huskers, study their game film and zero in on what they have to do. Solich figures the two-games-in-hand for his Huskers is not a definite advantage; it is counterweighted by the time the Irish have used to practice only against Nebraska.
Who's to say? These are two pretty good teams and, as Solich noted, whoever plays better on Saturday will probably win.
But Davie figures he has something going for him: three quarterbacks, each of them athletic and worthy of 1A competition. More importantly, Davie remains mum on how and if he would use them—or just one, two, or all three.
Matt LoVecchio is the starter, he repeated at his first weekly news conference of the season. But that's as far as he went. Specifically, he was asked if he was still considering playing all three quarterbacks-- LoVecchio, Carlyle Holiday and Jared Clark—as Davie once hinted he might do in spring practice.
"I don't think it's in our best interests as a football team to really say where we are right now," Davie replied. "I want to give our football team every advantage we can to win. And we certainly have a plan right now.
"Our players know the plan. But I don't think it's in my best interests or the team's best interests to disclose that right now. I think you'll see how it unfolds in the first game. The reality is how much it's an advantage or not. I'd like to keep that under wraps and let everybody find out about the same time.
"The players know the plan, but I'm going to keep that between us until we go play a game."
Several hundred miles away, Nebraska coaches were asked the flip side of the question. They are familiar with Holiday in HuskerLand. They know he has the same potential to be as slippery and escapable as Michael Vick. It was Frank Solich and Co. who lost out on successfully recruiting Holiday at the very end.
So, defensive coordinator Craig Bohl was asked if he was preparing his defense for one, LoVecchio, or Holiday, or both; and also was asked to compare LoVecchio with Arnaz Battle, last year's starting quarterback against Nebraska who broke a hand in the game and missed the rest of the season. Battle has now turned to flanker.
"You're looking at a guy that certainly throws the ball better than Battle did," Bohl said of LoVecchio. "People will say LoVecchio doesn't have good mobility. That is not true. He is much more mobile than people think. I wouldn't say he is like Arnaz Battle, but we can't prepare for a guy who's going to stay in the pocket and throw the ball."
Bohl was specifically asked if he was preparing his unit to go against two different quarterbacks. He seemed unconcerned.
"We know a lot about Caryle, but we're planning [on] LoVecchio," he said. "If they do change, I don't think you're going to see their style of game change a whole lot."
Davie still hoped for an advantage. He noted he hasn't disclosed his plans. He noted Notre Dame practices have been closed, and very little information has leaked from players or coaches.
"I'd like to think we have some advantage with the quarterback situation," he said. "They've played two games. I know who their quarterback is going to be. The problem is stopping their quarterback.
"The fact that we haven't played a game, that we've had closed practices, maybe that gives us a slight advantage," Davie said. "I know they have to prepare for an awful lot of things in that first football game, depending on who the quarterback is in the game, maybe."
Maybe. Let's hope.