Artie, Columbia, SC
What are ND's chances for Gary Gray? Do you think ND will be able to pull him away from the Cocks?
Mike: I'd say Notre Dame's chances are pretty good. As I've said before, I think it will come down to his official visit to Notre Dame. If he feels comfortable around the ND team, I think they'll have a great shot to steal him from South Carolina. There's nothing left for South Carolina to sell that he doesn't already know. He's obviously not 100 percent sold or he'd just re-commit to the Cocks. I think a good visit to Notre Dame will put the Irish in the driver's seat.
Nelson, South Bend
My main concern is the linebackers? I did not like the fact that we took our second-eading rusher to linebacker.
Mike: I think a lot of people are worried about the linebackers, but this group will be much faster on the field. In theory they should be able to defend the pass better and should be able to make more plays. But that's just theory. Normally I'd agree with you, but I think Notre Dame's defensive line will be very strong and that should lesson the load on Notre Dame's linebackers this season. I expect the defensive line to create all kinds of problems for the opposing offenses and the linebackers will just have to come and clean up the play. Let's hope that happens.
Martez Wilson says he slightly favors IL over ND, OSU, and USC. What are you thoughts on us getting him? I feel we really need a stud like him!
Mike: Illinois is the least of my worries on that list. I think Notre Dame has some selling to do with Martez. Me thinks some might be poisoning the well in regards to Notre Dame, but that's nothing new when it comes to recruiting. I'm sure the ND coaches will address the situation. The good news is Martez won't be deciding any time soon.
Brent, South Bend
Keefer and I want to know who will start at right tackle?
Mike: I've been the first to say it and I'll say it again. I think freshman Sam Young is your starter on opening day against Georgia Tech.
Trip, from Pa.
I heard you throw one hell of a tailgate party. Can I get an invite for the Penn St. game? It would be very much appreciated.
Mike: We do throw a nice tailgate for every game. All ND fans are invited. We'll have directions as to where our tailgate is held on game days. You're definitely welcome and invited, as is all ND fans.
Will, Charlotte, NC
What technique-wise or through play calling can ND do to hide an inexperienced and less physically developed lineman like Sam Young?
Mike: There are a few things Notre Dame can do to help a young and inexperienced player like Young. Notre Dame might choose to put a tight end on his side of the offensive line to give him a little help in pass blocking. They could also shade a back to his side of the field to help chip his guy if he needs it. As for the running game, I think he'll be plenty physical enough and I think Latina will have him coached up and ready to go. He really seems to be very sound both in run blocking and pass blocking. He's not Ryan Harris yet, but he certainly has that kind of potential and maybe even more because he'll likely get much bigger than Harris.
Kevin, Arlington Heights
How is Notre Dame progressing with Arrelious Benn and the other wide receivers?
Mike: I think Notre Dame is in great shape with Benn. He'll be visiting for the Michigan game. I'm not certain when he'll decide, but I do think the Irish are the team to beat for his signature. I also feel Notre Dame is in good shape with Greg Little at this point. They also seem to be opening the eyes of speedster Deonte Thompson. A good start to the season would certainly help with Thompson.
Irish Joe in N.C.
Playing three service academies gives us more chance to be prepared for their unique type offense, but does it concern you that there seems to be more injuries with the chop blocking?
I wish we only honored our contract with Navy and didn't have the other academies on our schedule. How do you feel about this?
Mike: I don't think Notre Dame intended to play three academies in on season, but they needed a 12th game for this season and Army just happened to work out. I don't mind playing Army or Air Force now and again, but I hope they're not constants of the ND schedule for years to come. I think it's a good thing that Notre Dame plays the academies because they deserve our support for a job that not many want to do. I do think playing all three is a bit much.
You always worry about injury in games like this, but Notre Dame usually seems to come out OK at the end, if not a bit sore. I'm hoping that the games are in hand early and some young Irish talent can see some meaningful action in these games.
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