The offense struggled last year and Diedrick would be the first to admit that. The offense will have to find a way to generate points and drives to give the stout Irish defense some breathers. More than likely, the Irish will go as the offense goes in 2003.
Diedrick talked about his first challenge of the season—Washington State--and the progress of starting quarterback Carlyle Holiday. "They're a good football team," said Diedrick of Washington State. "We're excited to get started. We've had a very good camp and we're really excited to get on the field and just get to a game. I think with Carlyle's progress, he's continued to make progress during camp. I feel very positive that he's just feels so confident and comfortable now within the offense."
One challenge for every quarterback is getting the team in the right play and Diedrick is hopeful that Holiday can do that this year but says that you can have success with every play called. "Defenses do their homework too. They're going to make a number of plays during the course of a game. On any given play, there's a number of things that can happen. I think your quarterback; you're not always going to be in the perfect play, if opportunity presents itself where he can get you in the perfect play, great. If he can't, you almost have to make something within that play. That's not always scrambling and creating outside the pocket. There's enough within the structure of the system that will allow you to get a positive play on every play."
The offensive line is another area of concern and Diedrick says they've made considerable progress during camp along the offensive line. "I think that we're beginning to get that chemistry together. I think our rotation is looking good. We're probably not as strong as we would like to be and we're not as strong right now as we will be at midseason and the end of the season. We're so much farther along than we were at the beginning of fall camp. We're excited; they're not going to hold the kickoff back so we're ready to go."
"You try to prepare them the best that you can and they have to make split second decisions out there," Diedrick said. "You want them to be prepared to make the best decisions possible—the same thing in coaching. You're not probably going to call a perfect game but you've got a good rationale in what you're trying to accomplish. Sometimes it works great and other times you struggle a little bit. Your second mode of coaching is adjusting and making the necessary adjustments."
Diedrick says they will script plays at least for the first few series. "We always script—we'll script both the first half and the second half. How many, we adjust that every once in a while. You try to script the first couple of series and try to get a pulse on your opponent and see what's going on. Now with defenses, they're beginning to do a similar thing. It's like two heavyweight boxers going at it. The first couple of rounds trying to show each other what you have. We've always thought scripting allowed the players to know what to expect at least early on. It gives them a chance to prepare for those first couple of series."
Diedrick had previously mentioned that couple of freshman receivers might see action this fall—a final decision hasn't been made on that yet. "We really haven't made that decision yet. We are still working with those guys. Everyone is involved a little bit in the game plan and I don't think we have made a cut and dried decision. We'll start talking personnel tomorrow night to finalize things and then we'll be a little bit better prepared."
The offense struggle with blitz pickup last year--it seemed the same blitz was being utilized by every defense they faced. Diedrick says they hope they've solved the problem. "I think two things. One, we have spent a great deal of time in the off season researching, evaluating and beginning to solve that problem. I think the second part is that our kids are little more experienced now and understand the scheme better. I think we will be able to execute and beat that. You are probably not going to beat it all the time but if you can beat it more times than they beat you, you are successful."
Irish Eyes feels the offense will probably struggle the first couple of games. Replacing four starters along the offensive line would be difficult for any team. We do feel Irish fans will see a much improved offense this year—you just may have to wait a few games before that happens.