One-one-One with Coach DiNardo
February 13, 2002Indiana begins its 15 spring practice sessions on Saturday, March 23. IUHoosiers.com sat down and talked with Coach DiNardo about the start of the 2002 football season.
What are some of the goals you wish to achieve during spring practice?
Every year you go into spring practice looking to determine who your "players" are so that at the conclusion of spring practice you have some semblance of a two-deep depth chart. That two-deep may change slightly when the freshmen join the team, but you do not build that two-deep counting on freshmen.
The main goal regardless if it is your 10th year of spring practice or your fist year of spring practice is to find "players". We do some cross training with certain players at different positions to make sure that we put the best possible team on the field in our season-opener.
Another important aspect of spring practice is to teach a system. We will be teaching a new system this spring so it will be a learning experience for every player. The other key element, which you hope to achieve during spring practice, is to develop a team culture and team chemistry. It is important that each player develops an understanding of how this program will be run.
We will be teaching new offensive skills to the offensive line. The skills they used last year may not be the skills that they use this season. We will be putting a premium on conditioning in our program and that premium may affect the make-up and depth of the offensive line.
We have very little experience at the quarterback position, but we have a lot of maturity. The guys we have may not have played a lot, but they are older guys who are established within the team. They are both men who have been through this drill before and should be able to provide leadership. The positive is that they are older and more mature and should be able to adjust to a new system quicker than a younger quarterback.
Running Back/Full Back
We have some depth in these positions so we will be evaluating everyone at this position to see how they best fit into our offensive scheme. It appears that we have a lot of different combinations of players who have seen game action and now we must determine which combination or combinations works the best.
This position is certainly a question that we will want to find some answers for during spring practice. We will use spring practice to see what we have at this position and determine the best fit for the offense.
We have some guys with some experience within the defensive front. We have to spend spring practice developing the two-deep up front and this is an area where that two-deep can certainly change throughout spring ball. Much like the offensive line, we will put a premium on conditioning.
It appears that we will need to do some evaluating at this position to pinpoint who those players are. We lost some experience from our linebacker core and it is wide open.
We may have some "players," but not a lot of experience in the defensive backfield. We have some strong athletes to work with and our goal will be to teach them the system so they are ready to perform when the season starts.
What offensive scheme will you be coaching during spring practice?
We will be running the West Coast offense. It is an offense that allows for balance and addresses situational football. This system allows us to adjust when we need to run for the majority of a game or when we need to pass for the majority of the game or when the offense is split 50/50. We will be able to win a game with either dimension. This offense allows us to be prepared regardless of the situation. If we are third and long we will be in the set that we were in during first down so we will not need to adjust just because of the down and distance. I believe that there will be some uniqueness to it in the Big Ten.
What defensive scheme will you be coaching during spring practice?
We will be operating under the reduction package; it is what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made popular. Defenses in college have to be more flexible and I think this defense allows for that flexibility. In a strategic battle the key is for the opposition to not know what you are going to do, this defense allows you to have that advantage. We need to keep the offense guessing and that is what this system allows for.
As head coach what is your role on the coaching staff?
I must manage the program, from the offense, to the defense to the kick game. I develop the parameters that our coordinators work within. We will have scripted practices and will look to accomplish certain things during practice. I must be able to solve problems and provide expertise in each of the areas. I will constantly be observing players to see how we are coming together offensively, defensively and in our special teams to make sure we are where we need to be by the time spring practice ends. I will evaluate how we are teaching and what we are learning as a team.
What is it like returning to the college game?
It is great to be back in college football. I am confident that we will move this program in a positive direction. I have never been more comfortable because I know that we have a plan that will work. I understand what are the important factors to success and just what is a crisis and what is not a crisis and how to handle each of these situations.
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