Diedrick Sees Offense Improving This Spring

The Irish offense has been a work in progress since the beginning of the Tyrone Willingham era. The Irish have struggled offensively the past two year, but have a chance to have a good showing in 2004. Irish Eyes spoke with offensive coordinator Bill Diedrick to get his thoughts on spring practice so far.

Bill Diedrick says there's a couple of things he's been pleased with so far this spring. "I think there's a couple of areas, said Diedrick. "I think the growth of the offensive line. I think the second area is probably the number of skill guys that are stepping up and making plays, and they're doing it on a consistent basis."

There is also some concern for Diedrick. There's been a number of players missing action that he feels has hindered their development. "I think the number of reps some guys are getting because of little nicks or injuries," said Diedrick when asked what he's been disappointed with. "I think for every day they're missing, they're missing several vital reps. Those are things that you can't get back. You have to try to catch up in fall camp and it's really hard."

Diedrick told Irish Eyes early in the spring that he hoped to see quarterback Brady Quinn seeing things at a much faster rate than previously. Diedrick says he's seen some improvement in Quinn's ability to see things develop. "I think to a degree he's done a very good job of that. Probably not where I'd like him to be, but I think he's well ahead of where he was when we came in this spring. I think what I expect and what I'll be pleased with is far above probably where we'll end up. But, I think that's because you're always trying to drive the young man and get him better."

The tight end position is another area that Diedrick seems pleased. We asked if anyone was standing out at this point. "There's several, there's six of them, they're all in there battling. They're all competing and making each other better."

"A couple of them" was his response when asked which players were standing out.

Plenty has been written about sophomore Travis Thomas this spring. Diedrick says Thomas has the tools to be a great on at Notre Dame. "I kind of see Travis as a combination of Julius and Ryan. He's not afraid to hit it up in there down hill. But, he also has got that elusiveness in the open field--his ability to make that cut, make a guy miss. Travis is one of those guys where I really wish he'd not had an injury; he needs to get all those reps. He's coming along. We're very pleased with his progress. He just needs to get more reps. The next four days, it will be real good for him."

Diedrick also told Irish Eyes earlier this spring that he'd like to see halfback Ryan Grant be a little more patient when running the football. "He's getting there. I think he's starting to get back to where he was a year and a half ago--where he's got patience as a runner, he's not trying to force everything and he's not trying to rush it. We're beginning to see signs of that. So again, the next four days are really going to be a true indicator as to whether or not if he's really settled in and being a lot more patient."

Another area that is exciting Diedrick is the wide receiving corps. "I'm fairly pleased with the wide receiver group. I think there's a number of those kids that are stepping up and are beginning to make plays and make them consistently."

Two young players making a charge are Jeff Samardzija and Chase Anastasio. "I think that Samardzija is getting better and better and more confident each day. I think that Chase has made a number of plays. He's probably not near as polished as we'd like him, and we probably didn't expect that, at least he's beginning to understand and he knows the system a lot better. He's definitely got a position as a role player."

The Carlyle Holiday move to wide receiver is starting to pay dividends according to Diedrick. "I think Carlyle did some very good things today. The light is kind of starting to come on for him. For him, it's a hard transition. It's kind of like going back to when he was a quarterback--every play is a learning adventure."

The fullback position is probably the most unclear for Diedrick this spring. Right now it's a two-horse race according to Diedrick. "I think right now you'd have to say Rashon (Powers-Neal) and Josh (Schmidt) are probably leading. We were pleased with Ashley and Ashley is one of those kids that got hurt so he misses all that time. He's missing valuable reps. When you're on the sidelines and you're not getting reps, it's really hard to prove that you can play and show what you can do."

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