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FOOTBALL: Team is ready to test its revamped offense

Kate Gales | Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Experience. Excitement. And absolutely no excuses.

The 2005 version of the Irish offense is ready to shed the last vestiges of a controversial off-season and start fresh in spring practices. Returning 10 of 11 starters and 20 letterwinners from last year’s 6-6 squad, the team’s leaders are ready to prove their worth.

New head coach Charlie Weis is ready to implement an offense of the style that won three Super Bowls in four years when he was the New England Patriots offensive coordinator.

“Our philosophy has always been: throw it on the wall and see what sticks,” he said.

As the leader of a revamped Irish offense, all eyes are on Brady Quinn, who returns for his third year at the Irish helm.

“I have a great deal of confidence in the offense and in our offense picking up where we left off,” he said. “I really felt like we were gaining ground as far as how we were progressing through the offense and as a unit.”

In the interests of learning a complicated new scheme, tight end Anthony Fasano said the team has been studying the playbook and getting to know the coaches in meetings.

“It’s making everyone excited to get on the field … I don’t think we’re nervous at all,” he said. “Excited is the best word.”

Offensive lineman Ryan Harris agreed that the team was eager to take the field and start to put the system into practice.

“The excitement’s just unbelievable because we’ve been looking at the playbook for so long, and we have new plays and we have new terminology and we just can’t wait to get out there together, make the call, and just really go out there and play football again,” Harris said.

“And especially on offense, now we’re a veteran group, there’s really no room for excuse and it’s about time we start to play at that level.”

Running back Ryan Grant was the only starter to leave the lineup going into spring 2005. However, freshman Darius Walker is ready to take on any and all responsibilities in the backfield. Walker rushed into the national spotlight with 115 yards on 31 carries that included two fourth-quarter touchdowns against then-No. 8 Michigan.

Walker said the team has a considerable amount of work to do before players can analyze their development.

“We’ve just kind of got to sit back and take this as it comes,” he said.

“As we get further along in the playbook and farther along in the offense, we’ll know where we’re going to go.”