Execution Key to Successful Offense

Offensive coordinator Bill Diedrick had a large collection of media waiting for him after Tuesday's practice. Diedrick answered a wealth of questions but stuck around to answer them all. Diedrick knows his offense is in disarray and knows he's the guy who has to fix it.

Coach Bill Diedrick says his offense needs to forget about Michigan and move on to Michigan State. "It's a new week, you move on," said Diedrick. "The stain is there but you keep building and moving on."

Diedrick says the way to handle a big loss is to learn from it and to move on. "That was an ugly, ugly, ugly thing on Saturday. Nobody liked it, you can't sleep, but somewhere that's got to go and you've go to take that next step and get on with your next opponent and that's what you do."

The offense is currently ranked 116th out of 117 teams in total offense but Diedrick says he believes in his system. "The system is there and the system works. It's been proven in a number of different programs with a number of different personnel. The key thing that we have to do is you don't lose sight or lose track of where you are going. At times it seems like its baby steps but you've got to crawl before you walk and walk before you run. It's about time for some of us to step up and begin running."

For the offense to be successful, they will have to execute—something they haven't been doing on a consistent basis according to Diedrick. "That's just getting everybody really on the same page. That's probably the most frustrating thing for us as a unit, us as a team and us as a staff--the number of breakdowns you have. You have one breakdown per play, that's fine. If that's a critical breakdown, which they all seem to be, what happened Saturday happens."

The Irish really seemed to struggle on first down. The Irish had 19 first down opportunities in the Michigan game. They gained a total of 40 yards on those opportunities for an average of 2.1 yards per opportunity. Three of those opportunities resulted in 15 and 11 yard runs by Julius Jones and one was a 19-yard reception by Anthony Fasano from Brady Quinn. That means the other 16 opportunities they had, the Irish were either going backwards or had no gain.

Diedrick admitted that his team has to be able to execute to move the ball. "I think the key thing is going back and working on our overall execution. When you look at the video, there's not many plays that aren't too far away. Every single play there seems like there's a critical bust. You go back and try to execute and get all 11 players on the same page."

Starting quarterback Carlyle Holiday struggled against Michigan with a 5-14 performance for 55 yards and one interception. Diedrick said he wasn't happy with the play of Holiday or anyone else for that matter. "Last week I wasn't real pleased with the overall performance but I wasn't pleased with a lot of performances," said Diedrick of Holiday's performance. "What you have to do individually and what you have to do as a team, move back to where we were coming out of fall camp because I felt like we had good continuity and I think we're closer than it seems."

Holiday has been inconsistent but Diedrick says Holiday has had a longer road to travel than any quarterback he's coached. "I've had small ones, experienced ones, probably not to the magnitude of what Carlyle has gone through. Being maybe totally foreign to the passing game to a certain degree, really being more option oriented, his adjustment is probably as great or as big as anybody I've probably had."

Irish Eyes feels that Holiday has struggled because of the way defenses have been challenging him and the offense. Michigan flooded the line of scrimmage with linebackers and safeties jumping in and out of gaps. They would then zone-blitz to confuse Holiday and the offensive line. We asked Diedrick if he thought this was one of the main problems. "That might be part of it," said Diedrick.

Freshman quarterback Brady Quinn entered the game in place of Holiday in the fourth quarter. Quinn didn't fare much better with a 3-10 performance for 36 yards and an interception.

Once Quinn was inserted, the controversy was soon to follow but Diedrick said freshman Brady Quinn has a ways to go before he can challenge Holiday for his starting spot. "He's getting close. He's only had two games and maybe all of 20 reps--that's not nearly enough."

Will Quinn be inserted into the game if Holiday struggles against Michigan State? "That would probably vary depending on the situation in the game," Diedrick said.

The Irish do have problems on offense—no question. It's probably not as bad as it seemed against Michigan and Irish fans will probably see an improved offense against Michigan State. Unfortunately for Holiday and Quinn, the controversy will continue until the offense as a whole starts to develop.

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