Football: The Chronicles of Riddick
Chris Allen | Thursday, April 12, 2012
In addition to the signature gold helmet, senior playmaker Theo Riddick has worn many hats for Notre Dame. First, he was a dangerous kick returner and situational running back. Then, he was a lightning-quick slot receiver. Entering his fourth season in an Irish uniform, Riddick finds himself playing both running back and slot receiver as the most experienced member of a group of hybrid offensive players grouped under running backs coach Tony Alford.
Riddick said at this point he does not have a defined role.
“I don’t think anyone has roles right now,” he said. “At this point, like coach [Alford] said, everybody wants the ball in their hands, so we’re still trying to find out who can do what.”
Instead of trying to find a niche in the offense, Riddick said he is focused on working hard to improve all aspects of his offensive game.
“I mean, everyone wants the ball. It’s why you play the game,” he said. “But it just makes you come to work every day, instead of taking days off and saying ‘I’m in this position, I have all this and I’m at this rank’. Everyone’s on an even playing field, so you have to come out and bring your ‘A’ game every day.”
The Irish coaching staff unconventionally groups slot receivers and running backs into the same skill group during practice, meaning Riddick has split reps with senior Cierre Wood, sophomore George Atkinson III and senior Robby Toma, among others. Riddick said the focus on both positions makes him and the other hybrids more versatile.
“You can be very dangerous if you can [play] both [slot receiver and running back], So far, I’m doing both, and I’m liking where I’m coming. It’s very exciting, but you have to get in shape, and I’m getting there.”
Senior offensive lineman Mike Golic Jr. has been identified throughout his career as a hard worker in all aspects of the game. With the addition of Harry Hiestand as offensive line coach in the offseason, Golic believes he has a coach who shares his blue-collar mentality.
“I definitely would describe coach Hiestand as a very blue-collar guy,” Golic said. “He’s about coming in and working hard and giving a great effort every day, and we’ll work on everything else from there. He’s said the one thing you can always control is your effort, and that’s one thing we’ll never sacrifice is a great effort on the offensive line.”
Filling the vacancy left by Ed Warriner’s move to Ohio State in the offseason, Hiestand was hired from Tennessee as Notre Dame’s offensive line coach and run game coordinator. Golic said the 29-year coaching veteran has returned focus to technique and helped him improve his fundamental game.
“Something that [Hiestand] has been really focused on is technique, and not so much scheme and working on scheme and things like that, but those basic techniques that can bail you out of a bad situation,” Golic said. “Whether you’re seeing a new scheme or not, if you’re in that fundamental position that he’s teaching, you’ll be able to handle anything a defense will throw at you. It’s something that’s already helping us all out a lot.”
After seeing extensive time on the offensive line in 2011, Golic returns to Notre Dame for a final year of eligibility hoping to improve his game and follow his father’s footsteps into the NFL.
“Most of the guys that come here, if you come to play big-time Division I football, you have [NFL] aspirations,” Golic said. “I absolutely want to take my shot and try to play in the NFL, but I’m worried about this year first and worried about a great senior season. We’ll let the chips fall where they may after that.”
Contact Chris Allen at [email protected]