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All quiet on the Irish front

Andrew Soukup | Friday, September 26, 2003

“What did you do to keep your job this week?”

The question was innocuous enough, as the well-meaning reporter who asked the question wanted to know what quarterback Carlyle Holiday thought he did to earn the right to start Saturday against Purdue.

But Holiday just grinned.

“That’s one of those trick questions,” he said.

If Holiday or the rest of the Irish know who is starting at quarterback Saturday, they aren’t telling. Irish coaches maintained after practice Thursday they had not made a decision between Holiday and freshman Brady Quinn as to who would lead the nation’s 113th-ranked offense into West Lafayette, Ind.

“Both young men have had a good week of work, and I’ve been very pleased with what both of them have done,” Irish coach Tyrone Willingham said. “As a matter of fact, I’m very pleased with how both of them have handled the situation going into this week’s game.”

At his press conference Tuesday, Willingham said the Irish would name a quarterback by Friday, but he hoped to do so earlier. The Notre Dame head coach didn’t say Thursday when he expected to make a decision, but added that it wouldn’t have helped the Irish if they named a starting quarterback during the week.

Earlier in the week, Purdue coach Joe Tiller said he expected to see Quinn, but the Boilermakers would still prepare for two quarterbacks.

“If I were to sit down and think about it, I would say there is no benefit for us to announce it early,” Willingham said. “… That’s probably better for [Purdue] to practice with two quarterbacks than it is for them to practice for one.”

Holiday, who has completed 49 percent of his passes for 303 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions, said it wouldn’t matter to him if he lost his starting job if it was better for the team in the long run.

“I’ve been fighting the whole time,” he said. “I just like the attitude that we win as a football team, and anyway that comes, I’ll take it.”

Irish offensive coordinator Bill Diedrick said Quinn took snaps with the first team this week. However, Quinn, who has completed 37 percent of his passes for 139 yards, one interception and a touchdown, called the past week of practice just like any other week.

“It was more of the press kind of built that up to be something more than anything else,” Quinn said. “It was just going to be another week of practice.”

Diedrick also said the Irish could use two quarterbacks against the Boilermakers. Holiday and Quinn have both played in all three of Notre Dame’s games this season.

Whenever the Irish do make their decision, Willingham said it wouldn’t be a difficult one.

“We’re guided by the same principles we’ve always worked with,” he said. “[We’re going to go with] what we feel is better for this football team and the individual that puts us in the best position to win.”