Diedrick had said last week that the offense would experiment with different personnel along his struggling offensive line. "None right now" was his response when asked if there had been any changes up front this week.
The Irish were able to get a hard-fought win against Pittsburgh last year in Notre Dame Stadium and Diedrick says this Pittsburgh defense hasn't changed much from last year. "I think they've stayed pretty similar," said Diedrick. "I think scheme-wise, they're very, very similar."
Diedrick said his game plan last year was successful so he'll build on that game plan and also take a look at what other's have done against Pittsburgh to attack the Panther defense. "You have a number of things we did well and things we didn't do so well a year ago and you kind of build from there. You also take a look at some things that (their) opponents have done to maybe hurt them a little bit. It's always kind of a little bit of combination of both."
The Irish offense was only able to put 14 points on the board against Pittsburgh last year but Diedrick said better execution will allow his offense to be more successful this year. "There's probably five plays in last year's game where it was a shoestring tackle and there was an open field completely ahead of us. In some cases a little bit better execution or seeing things a little bit better and maybe making a sight adjustment. When you game plan, you try to not only attack your scheme but play to the strengths of your ability."
The sight adjustments Diedrick speaks of would be the check off that quarterback Brady Quinn made against Purdue on the Maurice Stovall 75-yard touchdown before the end of the first half. Quinn's ability to make these adjustments should help the Irish offense now and in the future.
Diedrick said that the Purdue defense changed after that play. "A little bit, they changed quite a bit in the second half."
Maurice Stovall's emergence as a playmaker has Diedrick excited about his future at Notre Dame. "He's gotten a year older, he's gotten bigger, he's gotten stronger and I think he's beginning to get a feel of what you need you to do to be a quality receiver," said Diedrick of Stovall. "That is to be able to break tackles, catch the ball consistently and I think the Purdue game was a big game for him. He struggled a little bit during camp, he broke out of that and I thought the Purdue game was a huge game for him both physically but more so mentally. He had a real good week last week and had a good night tonight."
The Irish threw for 300 yards against Purdue and that was a positive but Diedrick says the Irish have to stay committed to running the football. "You're passing game right now is probably you're biggest plus. I still think that if you're going to continue to improve across the board, you've got to be able to run the football. I don't think it can be a thing where you want to throw the ball 60 times a game. You've got to develop a running game and you've got to be patient with it. Right now it's coming a lot slower than you would like it to, but I don't think you can give up and totally abandon it."
The real battle for the Irish offense will be running the football. Diedrick says his team will need to be able to run on Saturday to keep the Panther offense off the field. "We are focusing on that. Anytime you're able to run the football you're also taking time off the clock. If you're trying to shorten a game up, you do need to control the clock. That will be very important for us."
The Irish will need the offense to step up this week to steal a win against Pittsburgh. We are starting to get a feeling that we'll see a much improved offense this week.