The Irish enter the Purdue game looking for offense and ways to score points. Purdue has an excellent defense and are ranked 7th against the run. The Irish would love to run the football on Saturday but that could be difficult to do. The quarterback situation will remain unannounced until game time we believe and Diedrick certainly didn't tip his hand on the situation.
Obviously the hot topic for Diedrick was naming a starter at quarterback. "I can't tell you who our starter is," said Diedrick. "They're competing pretty hard for it."
"Friday, or maybe before, but probably Friday" was Diedrick's response when asked when he would name the starter at quarterback.
The bottom line for Diedrick is which player gives his offense the best chance for success. "I think it's just a matter of who can execute the offense and give us the best opportunity to be successful and win," said Diedrick on how he will decide who should start.
Diedrick said both quarterbacks will be given an equal opportunity to win the job. "Fairly even, for total reps for the week it will probably be pretty well split," Diedrick responded when asked how he would divide the reps this week.
As a quarterback coach and offensive coordinator, Diedrick has had to work with a number of quarterbacks. He hasn't started or played a quarterback as early as freshman Brady Quinn. "I think Bledsoe was probably the youngest and that was week six. He played in week five and started in game six. This is probably the earliest (I've) ever played a true freshman."
Quinn has been impressive and Diedrick sees a lot of talent in him. "I think he's mature, he's poised, very confident and very talented," Diedrick said when asked how Brady put himself into position for playing time.
The main concern for Quinn however is how he would handle starting on the road in a hostile environment. Diedrick admits that Quinn would have to significantly separate himself from Holiday to win the job. "There's going to have to be a little bit of significant separation between the two. If it's close, you're probably going to lean towards your starter, the guy who's experienced at least in the beginning."
Previous starter Carlyle Holiday and Brady Quinn appear to have different strengths when under center. We asked Diedrick if he would call a different game depending on which quarterback was in the game. "In general, you really try to work the system. Now you might take a look and do some things that might compliment the skills of one or the other. I think you always do that with each quarterback that you have. I think Brady's had some experience--you have a little bit better feeling of what his strengths are. You're probably going to try to give them as much opportunity to be successful as possible."
The Irish did improve along the offensive line in the last game according to Diedrick. Still, he says they all need to execute at a high level for this offense to be successful. "I think there was some very good things," said Diedrick after watching the film from last week. "Some guys were playing with not only great effort but good execution. I think across the board it's the same problem. We need to have everybody with that same execution and need to be grading out a little bit higher."
"Growing, it needs more work"Diedrick responded when asked to assess his offensive line at this point. "I think we knew it would be growing pains but like I said, it's time that some of those kids to quit crawling and start walking and running."
The Boilermaker defense will present a big challenge for Diedrick and his offense regardless of who starts at quarterback. He had very high praise for the Boilermaker defense. "Across the board, that's a really talented group. They've got great team speed. They do a lot of movement, a lot of pressure so I think it's important that we get good hits on people and finish our blocks. They can still be rushing four and they're going to give you pressure because those guys really play all out and have got high motors."
Irish fans hoping to officially hear who will start against Purdue are wishful thinkers. We doubt very much that a starter will be publicly named before Saturday. Both quarterbacks were not available for questions after practice and it wouldn't surprise us if it were that way all week. The media was not allowed into practice yesterday either and it wouldn't surprise us if that continues all week.