Oct. 2, 2002
By Peter J. Stuhldreher
After utilizing the bye week to polish some rough spots in their game, the Notre Dame football team returned to Cartier Field Tuesday to begin serious preparation for Saturday’s contest with Stanford. The Irish will enter the game with a 4-0 record and ranked as the ninth-ranked team in the country in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll.
The biggest question surrounding the Notre Dame football program is whether or not Carlyle Holiday will be healthy enough to be the starting quarterback on Saturday. With still no decision made, former walk-on and current backup quarterback Pat Dillingham is preparing this week to be ready to start if needed.
“I have to prepare myself as the starter,” said Dillingham.
“That’s the only way I will be ready. Up until kickoff, in my mind, I am going to start. Then whatever happens, I will be ready no matter what. That’s how I have to approach it.”
Even if Holiday is named the starter, that still does not mean Dillingham will not be pressed into duty as the game progresses.
“If Carlyle starts, I know that (his shoulder) is going to be tender and I might have to go in there,” said Dillingham.
“I am just going to be ready the whole time. (The decision) is for the team’s benefit, it’s nothing personal.”
For Dillingham, the opportunity to get the majority of the snaps with the first team last week has brought a much higher comfort level with the offense and his teammates as well as an enhanced confidence in his own ability. Perhaps more importantly for Dillingham, his teammates have also expressed confidence in his ability.
“A lot of the older guys have pulled me aside and said something to me,” said Dillingham.
“During the Michigan State game, Ryan Roberts pulled me aside, gave me a pat on the back and said ‘we have confidence in you.’ That’s something that is really important to me, to know that the older guys feel good about having me in there.”
Dillingham has gone from being a walk-on last year, to earning a scholarship in the spring, to earning the backup quarterback spot on this team, now to preparing as the possible starting quarterback for this Saturday’s game against Stanford at Notre Dame Stadium. He has practiced as the starter last week, watched tape all weekend and now is preparing as the starter this week. He has done all of this while having to deal with the attention of the media corps that follows Notre Dame football, something entirely new to the quiet, unassuming Dillingham. With all of that, will he be ready if needed on Saturday?
Dillingham’s answer: “I am ready.”