Diedrick Pleased With Progress So Far

The Irish offense went through some difficult growing pains in 2003 and gained valuable experience. Many expect the Irish offense to be much improved in 2004. We spoke with offensive coordinator Bill Diedrick to get his thoughts on the Irish offense so far this spring.

Bill Diedrick says he's been pleased so far with the progress of the offense. "I've actually seen quite a bit of progress," said Diedrick. "Not nearly where we'd like it to be, but I think we've made a good deal of progress in a lot of areas. I think five practices in with one scrimmage, probably much further along than we were at this time ago."

How much improvement the Irish make will depend on the progress of quarterback Brady Quinn. We asked Diedrick what has impressed him about Quinn so far and where he's hoping to see him improve this spring. "The one thing I've seen is a tremendous amount of improvement on his leadership. The one other area that I'm looking for and expecting is his decision-making process. Being a lot quicker, being a lot more consistent with good decisions and understanding of what needs to be done by down and distance—all the situations that he's going to face. That's the thing you look for all quarterbacks, but I think that's the one area of growth that I want to see him make this spring."

The offensive line is another area that should be much improved. Diedrick says the experience they gained last year has given the Irish a head start this spring. "It really gives you a chance to start a little bit quicker. I think we're so much farther along than we were a year ago. Not everything is new to those guys. I think the strides that were making now is really trying to push everybody to get to that next level--to be consistent and to give great effort on every play, and to not have inconsistencies and the breakdowns that we had a year ago."

Halfback Travis Thomas has been a hot topic so far this spring. Diedrick says he has all the tools, but like any freshman, he's still got some things to learn. "Signs of good and bad," said Diedrick in what he's seen from Thomas. "Like a first-spring freshmen, he's made a number of mental mistakes. From the physical side of it he's done a very good job. He's showing he's got the ability to make guys miss. He shows that he's got the ability to make a long run. He's got good hands. I think the thing you're looking for his is to not make those mental mistakes. Physically he's proven that he has the ability to play."

Another player people are excited to see this spring is Carlyle Holiday as a wide receiver. Holiday has a lot to learn in a short period of time. Diedrick says Holiday just needs some reps and is progressing nicely. "Now we're really giving him an opportunity to truly be a wide receiver, to spend all the time at wide receiver and really learn the little parts of the game. Where he can concentrate on the releases and all those things that receivers have to. And also, to work hard on his blocking. He's learning a lot of new things, but I think he's making good progress. What he needs is just a lot of reps and a lot of experience."

The Irish also struggled last year with picking up the blitz and blocking with their running backs. We asked Diedrick if that aspect of the offense has been a focus this spring. "It always has been, it was a year ago, (and) definitely this year. I think we've done some things within our system to help the backs and hopefully that will allow them to be a little bit more consistent and give them a chance to physically execute what we're asking them to do."

The Irish offense will be back at it on Tuesday with another practice in full pads. Irish Eyes will be there and we plan to watch the offense more closely on Tuesday.

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