Although coach Jim Leavitt thinks of himself as a defense-minded coach, his thoughts have centered on his offense this spring.
Along with Andre Hall, center John Miller and guards Frank Davis and Chris Carothers are gone, leaving the Bulls struggling to find offensive consistency during the spring. The inconsistent play at quarterback of senior Pat Julmiste and sophomore Carlton Hill hasn’t helped the offense’s cause, either.
In the team’s 110-play scrimmage on Saturday, the first-team offense struggled to find consistency and was never able to put together a long scoring drive. The offense did score two touchdowns during goal-line situations but didn’t have an impressive showing.
Thed Watson and Jackie Chambers have been bothered with injuries this spring that have also hindered the progression of the offense.
“We lost a lot of starters on offense, and that makes a difference, or it could,” Leavitt said. “But it’s really no excuse; our guys just need to step up and keep working hard.”
Ultimately, Leavitt is looking for leadership from the quarterback position to lead the newcomers on offense. Hill and Julmiste, however, have struggled during spring drills to provide that leadership.
Julmiste, who was the starter last season, lost his starting spot to Hill heading into spring drills.
On Saturday, Julmiste had a solid performance, going 9-for-10 with 120 yards passing and gained 43 rushing. Julmiste got most of the snaps in practice on Tuesday, but wasn’t accurate throwing the ball and made poor decisions during the 30-minute scrimmage.
“That’s the story with Pat, he is up and down, and we can never get any consistency,” Leavitt said. “We aren’t getting consistent play at the quarterback position, and when we do, we turn the ball over. But that’s why you have spring practice.”
As far as working with young talent on the offensive line, Leavitt takes solace in the fact that Notre Dame has only seven offensive linemen in spring practice. Leavitt also remembered Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops starting 12 freshman in 2005.
“I’m sure we aren’t the only team in the country struggling right now,” Leavitt said.
Offensive coordinator Rod Smith refused to comment on the offense after Tuesday’s practice.