Could The Offense Suprise in 2003?

<P>The Notre Dame offense appears to be turning the corner this fall. They've been much more impressive than Irish Eyes has seen previously and appear to be progressing both with the run and the pass. We caught up with offensive coordinator Bill Diedrick to get his impressions on the first few weeks of camp. </P>

Coach Bill Diedrick says his offense has been improving so far this spring. "I felt like we were much improved in spring and then through fall camp," said Diedrick. "Now we are going back through our installation and I think the veterans are working their way through things. You've got your ups and downs in camp but I think they've been working through it pretty good. Some of the young kinds are really beginning to pick it up and I think the other bonus that we have is they're seeing the older kids being able to execute it which always helps."

The offense seems to be getting a better understanding of the scheme and technique according to Diedrick and he says he's please with the effort so far. "We're pleased with where we are at. Now it's just preparing for the first scrimmage--after the first scrimmage, coming out of it and then you probably start sorting your groups out."

The offensive line will be critical this year to the success of the team and Diedrick says he's been very impressed with their effort thus far. "I've seen very good effort. I don't think that execution is probably anywhere near where we'd like but I think the first step is getting great effort on every play. The closer we get to that, the execution will come and I think we'll be where we want to be."

The offensive line has really improved so far this spring. On Tuesday, Irish Eyes witnessed the offensive line in short yardage and goal line situations and they really impressed scoring on a number of plays. "That's a great start in both short yardage and goal line," said Diedrick. "That probably is the ultimate in physicalness of the game of football. With the success that we had down there, not everything was pretty or greatly executed but at least it was great effort and we were very physical. You build on that and with that becomes a good solid rushing game."

The other encouraging sign we witnessed was the emotion the offense played with during this series. Lots of celebration and congratulation could be heard and Diedrick was happy to see that. "I would hope we would have a lot of celebrating, a lot of emotion and a lot of fire and I would hope that we would play that way--not only on the offensive side of the ball but all three sides. It was very good to see that. That's kind of that first little seed that you want to continue to build on and to grow. Take all those little successes and build on that because with that comes a great deal of confidence."

The quarterback position has been a hot topic all summer. Starter Carlyle Holiday has been making steady progress throughout fall camp. "I'm actually generally happy with all of their progress," said Diedrick. "In Carlyle's case, I think he's beginning to be more and more comfortable within the system. Each and every day you've got to grow and you've got be better when you come off the field. You've got to be able to see things a little bit quicker than you did the day before. Those are things that you are always pushing to the kids. "

The backup quarterback position is where the battle is and Diedrick says he's been pleased so far. "For the younger kids, they've taking big strides in the last couple of days. I think they're beginning to see things a little bit quicker. They're beginning to make the checks a little bit sooner. As long as we improve every day, I know we're heading in the right direction."

Can Diedrick name a backup quarterback at this point? "We haven't even talked about that. We're not game planning, we're not even close to our first game. I think that's something we'll have to address."

"I think Brady is progressing very, very quickly," said Diedrick when asked if he would feel comfortable with Brady playing this year. "I like what he's doing out there. I like all the physical and mental things and his preparedness coming into camp."

"Right now, there is two and a half guys that are our backup," said Diedrick about the backup race. "I think that is Chris, Pat has been out for about a week so I give him a half because you throw him in the mix with Chris and Brady are battling. It's given us a great opportunity to put those kids in there snap for snap and see exactly what they can do."

The freshmen wide receivers appear to be a very talented bunch and Diedrick said they are hoping at least one can contribute this fall. "We anticipated the possibility of having a couple of the kids; it could be one or possibly two that might be able to help us out. The things that we were looking for was who could come in, learn the scheme, learn the concepts, basically play not mistake free but pretty close to it and then who physically gave us the skills."

Diedrick spoke about his four receivers and how they've been progressing so far at camp. "(Ambrose) Wooden was slowed with the hamstring injury. He's back and he's not taking active work. He's looked like he's been in his playbook a great deal because he hasn't made a lot of mental mistakes. I think (Jeff) Samardzija has basically had a very, very solid camp up until now and I think Chin (Chinedum Ndukwe) has really played well. I think both of those two kids have probably had the majority of reps. Chase (Anastasio) has really got some things that we could utilize. When we end camp and start game-prepping, then we have to assess where we're at. Right now we're trying to throw everything at them and assess what they are able to do, what they're able to learn. It's hasn't been exactly mistake free but it's been pretty good."

Irish Eyes gets the sense that this offense is turning the corner. Each offensive coach has a little more bounce in their step after every practice. Diedrick would be the first to caution that they have a long way to go but we get the feeling that something special could be developing with the offense. We also feel that both Samardzija and Ndukwe could see some time this year. The emotion the offense has been showing of late is the best news we can report so far.


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