The Irish offense started working on the game plan on Tuesday and Diedrick said the offense has started to respond. "Introduce the game plan," said Diedrick when asked what his offense did today. "The wheels are turning a little and that's good."
The Irish offense did come alive in the second half against Washington State and Diedrick says they have used that fact to start to prepare for Michigan on Saturday. "We started that even Sunday when we met," said Diedrick. "I'm not concerned with that. We finished the game strong and we'd like to start that way and use that as a spring board."
The Irish offense seems to struggle early in games and Diedrick says they do try to focus on getting the offense off to a good start. "I think we talk about that all the time. Even before the game I think we talked Friday night. We talked about all the issues we wanted to address and be aware of. Whether it was first game, opening (with) all those mistakes, the first half was anything but what you'd hope and desire. The most important thing is that we finished the game strong and the kids hung in there and never lost that will."
Diedrick says he hopes to get his offense started quickly against Michigan with some play calling that will give them some confidence. "You always address those issues. Whether it might be getting your quarterback on rhythm and trying to get him started or whether it's trying to get your team started, it what ever issue you have to try to address. I think you can try to do that and really create things going and I think that was one of the things we tried to do at halftime. Pick up the tempo and get ourselves going and I think it actually worked."
Starting quarterback Carlyle Holiday was hammered by the Washington State blitz last Saturday. Diedrick says that his quarterback has to recognize the blitz but that is not always easy for any quarterback. "You've got a number of problems because you have the awareness of the blitz. The other concern that you have is where you might get beat with a game or one-on-one with a defensive lineman versus and offensive lineman. Where you might feel that you are protected but all of the sudden you're getting pressure. You've got a number of different pressures, I think the more you're in the pocket, the more you feel comfortable with it."
Holiday, at times, appears confused on the field and Diedrick says he's just trying to teach Holiday what to do and when with the football. "I think that your natural skills, your natural tendencies, your response is probably going to be one where you might look to scramble. A lot depends, is it coming from the outside or is it coming from the inside. Your escape routes sometimes are somewhat limited. There are times when you have to throw the ball away and there are other times where you've got to be smart and just eat the ball. There's a number of plays during the course of the game that you're going to win and they're going to win. Sometimes it's a big tradeoff."
One area Holiday admits that he needs to work on is getting the ball off quickly. Diedrick agrees and says they are always working on Holiday's mental clock. "No question, you use all kinds of timing devices, counting devices, just trying to get that feel in the pocket of when the ball has got to be gone. That's an awareness that doesn't come automatically."
Julius Jones made a number of nice runs against Washington State and Diedrick thinks Jones adds a different look to the offense. "I thought he ran extremely hard, made some good breaks, probably danced a bit on a couple of plays where it might've been third and short. All and all, I think he really brought another dimension to our offense and was a pretty good counter punch with Ryan (Grant). I thought his blocking was fine, I thought his running was good and really didn't get an opportunity to get him involved in the passing game."
The challenges Diedrick's offense faces each week appear to be mounting. Every defense he faces continues to bring more pressure than the last. We asked Diedrick if he expected each team to continue to bring a lot of pressure and try to confuse his offense. "Probably a pretty good chance of that. You hurt them with the run and I think ultimately you hurt them with the pass. Then you are going to kind of back them off a bit."
"I think Washington State probably crowded the ball as much to prevent the run as they did the pass," Diedrick continued. "You live by the pressure you're going to die by the pressure. It only takes one play to end up in the end-zone. It's kind of a tradeoff. They make a couple of big plays but if you hit a couple, you're in the game. That's kind of what happened on Saturday. The 3-4 really long runs really kept us in the game."
We didn't get the chance to ask Diedrick many of the questions we wanted because of the crowd. Diedrick answered many questions so we didn't want to keep him. We will try again today to see if we can get more of our questions answered.