Carlyle Holiday has become the lost man so far this fall. It seems nobody cares about the starting quarterback. "It's different for me really, sometimes I'm like ‘wow, where are they at' but I'm fine and relaxed," said Holiday about not being requested for interviews. "Anytime you can get away from it a little bit is fine with me."
Nobody cares because Holiday has done his job. He's clearly the number one quarterback and there is no question about that.
Holiday is the leader of the offense so who better to ask how the offense has been progressing that Holiday? "I think the offense is going as expected," said Holiday. "We're out there having fun. It's not so much people being tensed up or nervous--they're wanting to practice now. It shows that we're coming along as an offense. The line is coming together more and more each day and we've just got to continue to develop up to when the season starts.""I think every position on this team--they realize what their goals are. They know that they can accomplish those things. I think this year everyone's focused on that same goal. Just looking at practice in two-a-days, it's a lot faster, a lot more quicker and everybody's a lot more comfortable then they were last year and I think it's really starting to show."
Holiday's problems last year were with consistency. He says he feels he's really come a long way in becoming more consistent. "I think so," said Holiday when asked if he has become more consistent. "I really hate when my first practice is better than my second practice. That's one of the goals of mine—have a better day in each in every day that I go out there. I've been pretty consistent during camp and I've just got to continue to develop in that area. If I do have a bad I'll try not to let that get to me."
To become more consistent, Holiday will need some help. The Irish running backs have to be able to pick up their assignments—something they didn't always do that last year. Holiday says the backs are becoming more consistent. "There is a lot of different protection checks when Coach Willingham came into this system. I think the backs are really an important part of it. I think last year sometimes the back would go the wrong way and a lineman would have to pick that guy up and it would maybe be a little too late. I think those front seven with the backs have been pretty much consistent over practice and once that gets going that allows you to be a better offense."
At times last year, Holiday appeared to be thinking too much during the games. Holiday says he's feeling a lot more comfortable in the pocket. "I'm pretty close," said Holiday when asked if he's stopped thinking too much out there. "When I first get out there I tend to think a little bit. As the game goes on you just let it start flowing and start reacting rather than thinking and I think that is where I need to continue to develop—more of a reaction process."
One area where Holiday really excels is throwing on the run. Irish Eyes asked Holiday if we would see more of that this year. "As soon as that pocket breaks down you're out of the pocket but you still have your eyes down field and I think that's a big advantage when you are out of the pocket--especially when you have the ability to throw on the run or just run the ball. I try to make plays out of the pocket. I've noticed that the receivers have really started to come back to the ball now—that's something we struggled with last year too. That's a big weapon we can use this year."
The Irish offense has had a lot more time to digest and work on the playbook. Holiday thinks the extra plays and formations will help the Irish stretch the field this year. "It will help a lot—it will stretch everything. Right now we feel like we have a lot of guys on this team who can stretch the field. Our tight ends are more athletic than ever and the receivers are really coming together. Last year we had a lot of opportunities where we could dump the ball down to the back and we've been working on that these two-a-day practices."
Holiday says they had a lot of plays last year, they just didn't use them. "I don't think there are a lot more plays—there are a lot more plays that we didn't run last year—I don't know if it was a confidence level or certain injuries to certain players. I think the coaches are starting to feel more comfortable with us that we can run those plays that we didn't run last year."
Holiday was asked to compare himself today versus this time last year. "Today I just felt a lot more comfortable. I was reacting more to what I was doing rather than thinking so much last year. I was just out there having fun. At times last year it was a little bit more intense and kind of hard to deal with at times but today I was more comfortable."
"I think that I'm really starting to improve now—just consistency every day. I don't have those balls on the ground—really I'm just going out there and letting the system working for me."
The west coast offense really isn't that difficult to learn according to Holiday. "Really there are basically just three primary reads. Usually our plays develop a triangle read—it's pretty simple. People may say the west coast offense is really difficult—I may have been stupid last year but its common sense once you get the hang of it."
The final and most critical piece to the puzzle will be the offensive line. Holiday has been impressed with the physical play of the offensive line this fall. "I think we go against one of the best defensive fronts in the country every day—if they don't see that there's something wrong. It's not like the defense is kicking our butt, we're going out there competing every day. You get excited when you hit off big plays against those guys and I think the offense sees that. It just shows them what they can do against other teams.""I think they realize that it all starts with them up front. They're just getting a hat on a hat and playing physical and that's where it all starts. It's difficult against the defensive front we have here but they'll hit off plays every once in a while that is a big plus for us."
Holiday might be the forgotten man but that is only because he's done his job. Once the season starts, I'm sure Holiday will be on the request list daily.
The Irish are in the middle of fall camp right now and Irish Eyes has been at every practice finding the latest inside scoop. Do you want to know how of the offensive line is progressing? How does Julius Jones? You will find it all in a Total Access Pass for Irish Eyes as well as updates on almost every player on the 2003 roster. Don't miss out on all the inside scoop.
Click this LINK if you would like to know about a Total Access Pass from Irish Eyes.