Progress on Both Offense and Defense

The Irish have had four days of practice so far so Irish Eyes thought we would grab a defensive and offensive starter and get their opinions on how the team is shaping up. Outside linebacker Derek Curry is entering his second year as the starter at the SAM position after a productive 2002. Mark LeVoir will enter his first year as the starting left guard position and both players appear very optimistic about the possibilities for this team.

Derek Curry says he isn't ever satisfied with anything. "I wouldn't say I've been pleased because I have really high standards and high expectations for what our defense can do," said Curry. "I would say that we're moving along pretty well. The first couple of days we were back to the basics but now we're looking towards the season. It's getting more complex and we're getting more focused on the first game. We've still got a long ways to go and I'm not satisfied as far as technique and execution."

Brandon Hoyte is stepping in Mike Goolsby's role right now and Curry thinks he will do a great job at the middle linebacker spot is Goolsby can't come back to challenge. "We've been working all spring and all summer at this. Everybody has been getting a lot of reps at all positions. Coach Simmons and Coach Baer have bothl encouraged us to know more than one position so we've all been working on all three linebacker positions. We have to have people that can step in and be able to play that position and don't miss a step so that adds depth for us. We've worked hard this summer to know all the positions. Brandon is going to do a great job there and is a great player for us."

Curry says the offense has been playing pretty well against the first string defense. "The offense is doing real well. I don't know who is winning the battle right now and we are not necessarily concerned about that. We're just trying to go out and play as hard as we can and do what we have to do. We've need to work on our technique and our recognition and probably communicate a little more on the field. We're just focused on what we have to do."

Curry says that seven-on seven has really helped the starting 11 to get on the same page this year and has given them a jump on becoming a solid defense. "That is what the summer is about," said Curry about working to gel as a team. "We are the only ones here. We were working on seven-on-seven and working out together so our communication is a lot more fluid and our execution is a lot better because we know each other and how each person is going to react to certain situations. We know who is going to need help and we know how to handle certain situations that we might not have last year. I think we've really grown together as a team and a defense. We just need to execute better and we should be fine."

Mark LeVoir has really made a move this spring and summer and the inside word is that LeVoir could become a dominating offensive linemen this year.

We asked LeVoir what happens to a young offensive lineman when all of the sudden everything starts to click for him like in his own situation. "I'd say it has a lot do with it all becoming second nature. You already know what to do, if the linebacker does this, it's this call. If someone does this, it's another thing. It's lining up and you don't have to think ‘what do I do now.' It's just second nature and it just happens. You see it, you read it and you don't even have to think about it."

The offensive line appears to be coming together and LeVoir sees it happening and soon. "We're getting closer close really," said LeVoir when asked if this offensive line is starting to gel. "We have a mistake here and a missed assignment there but we are really starting to get closer to where we need to be and we're starting to get a good push. We just need to get all five guys knowing their assignment, knowing the technique and finishing the block. We are getting closer to doing that."

LeVoir thinks the Irish will have some depth along the offensive line this year. He says that a lot of players are starting to step up this year. "We have total confidence in these guys. We just need to help one another out. As we go, they'll just need more reps. It shouldn't matter who you have in there. As long as they are doing what they should be doing and execute what they should be doing we should be fine."

LeVoir says the offensive line reviews film after every practice and he says the offensive line is holding their own against the defense. "We're doing real well at times. We're just working on our technique and fine-tuning everything right now. We know we have a ways to go but we've made a big step in the right direction."

Consistency is the key according to LeVoir. He said the offense is close but just needs to be a little more reliable. "I think if everyone played consistent and played their hardest we'd have a real solid offense. We're real close to being that. I think as long as we play consistent that we're going to have a pretty good offensive team."

They say the players mirror the coach. Read Derek Curry's statements and anyone would believe those words came straight from head coach Tyrone Willingham if I told you so. Willingham might want to consider sending Curry in to talk to the media because he's coached him as well in media relations as he has on the field and Curry is one heck of a player. This team is starting to mirror their head coach and that is certainly a good sign.

The Irish are in the middle of fall camp right now and Irish Eyes has been at every pratice finding the latest inside scoop. You will not find better practice reports anywhere. Do you want to know how of the offensive line is progressing? How does Carlyle Holiday look this fall? What about Julius Jones? You will find it all in a Total Access Pass for Irish Eyes as well as updates on almost every player on the 2003 roster. Don't miss out on all the inside scoop.

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