Mike's Mailbag

Here are another round of questions answered left over from last week's Power Hour. Remember to send in your questions and I'll make sure I get to most of them. Also, if you have questions for Coach's Mailbag, send your questions to the same e-mail address.

Kevin in Scottsdale
In your estimation, Mike, heading into week three of fall camp, does Charlie have the roster already set? And if so, does week three indicate that the team is soley focused right now on preparing for Georgia Tech, with little chance of changes to the starting lineup for the game? Also, the million dollar Q: If you had to guess, will Sam Young be one of those starters?

Mike: I'd be very surprised if any jobs were up for grabs this week. I think Charlie has a very good idea who might start at this point. My guess is Sam Young will start at right tackle, but I'm not certain of that at this point. It sounds like Weis will rotate both Mitchell Thomas and Anthony Vernaglia at SAM, at least for the first game.

Tom, Torrance, CA
What are your thoughts on Martez Wilson coming out and saying he will go to USC for an official visit during the USC vs. ND game? Is this a bad or good sign for ND?
Lastly, do you think James Aldridge is damaged goods to the point he will not recover from his knee injuries? I hope not, but it does not look great this early on.

Mike: I'm sure USC would love to get Martez in for that weekend as I assume that the buzz around USC at that time will be at an all-time high depending on the records of both teams. It should be a great game. If Notre Dame wins the game, that might be a mistake for USC to bring him and others in for official visits for that game. But most coaches think they'll win every game, and that's just a risk you have to take if you want to land the best players. I'm sure Pete Carroll is confident they'll win the game and will want to capitalize on the buzz surrounding the game. I still believe it will come down to where Martez feels the most comfortable with the players and coaches. A win would certainly helps either team's case.

As for Aldridge, I think it's way too early to call him damaged goods at this point. Aldridge is known as a very hard worker, and I doubt he'll be giving up on anything. His knee is obviously a problem, but almost all players return from knee injuries and are as good as they were before the injury. I believe he'll bounce back fine. I'm just not sure he'll be the best he can be this year. I do think they'll look at him and decide when he finally gets healthy, which I think will be a few games into the season before he'll be ready.

Va. Gold, Falls Church, Va.
Don't you get tired of us asking the same questions over and over again?

Mike: This question made me laugh, thanks. The only time I get tired of it is in chat, but I've come up with a plan for that. I don't mind answering them over and over. It does get old typing the same answer over and over in chat. However, I've come up with a good plan where I'll open a text file and I'll type it once, then when it's asked again, I'll just copy and paste it. I don't mind the answer part, just the typing.

Ryan, Denver
How is Rob Parris Doing? Do you think he can be the fourth wide receiver?

Mike: I've heard very positive things about Rob so far in fall camp. I think he has vast potential. I can't be sure if he'll be the fourth wide receiver at this point. I do think it's very possible, but you have to take special teams into account. For instance: I think George West will be the other guy returning kickoffs next to David Grimes this year. So, if true, West will not be red-shirting this year. Do you then use West as the fourth receiver and save a fifth for a guy like Parris? A fourth receiver will be lucky to catch 10 balls during the year. I assume that decision will be made soon, but I wouldn't be surprised if Parris does see the field this season.

Scott, Columbus, Ohio
Will either of the freshmen linebackers see significant playing time.

Mike: Significant playing time is a subjective thing. I think both will play and both will be involved in special teams. I'm not sure either will see a lot of action on the defense, but I do expect both to play some. I would expect Toryan Smith to get in with some second team reps at middle, and I think Morrice Richardson will get his time as a third down pass rusher in certain situations. I doubt you see either get a great deal of playing time on defense.

Irish Joe in NC
I suppose the captains are the players that fire the team up when necessary but is there a player or two who knows when a little bit of levity is necessary? In other words, who are the natural wits on the team?

Mike: I can't say for sure as I'm not there, but I've heard Tom Zbikowski and Jeff Samardzija are both the guys who talk a lot on the field. Samardzija is known as a guy constantly clowning around. Zibby is known as a guy always talking smack to the offense. I do know Trevor Laws likes to talk quite a bit as well. I will say that Weis talks enough out there for all of them and he's constantly yanking the chain of all of his players. In a recent practice Weis said "10-yard penalty on the defense for X player being ugly" and he then moved the ball back 10 yards. And no, I won't say who was guilty of being ugly. It was certainly said as a joke and it's just Charlie's way of keeping practice light and fun.

Lenny, Pittsburgh
Mike, considering we got Jimmy Clausen to verbal early, are you a little disappointed we are not further along in recruiting the so-called "elite" players?

Mike: I'm not concerned about it. I think some expected more commitments by now, and I did as well, but I do think Notre Dame is in good shape with a number of elite players right now. The problem is that there aren't a lot of top players in the Midwest this year that Notre Dame is pursuing. At this time last year the Irish had 11 commitments and all but one came from the Midwest or upper East coast—traditional hotbeds for Notre Dame recruiting. ND is recruiting a lot of players this year from states down South and further away, which usually takes more time to get these top prospects to pull the trigger on a school further away. I think they're doing well in recruiting and a great season will only improve their chances with these top prospects.

Todd, South Bend
What do you think is a realistic record this year for Notre Dame?

Mike: Looking at the schedule, and also taking in account talent on the Notre Dame roster, I think the Irish should win 10 games this year. If they don't trip up early, I believe there is a good chance they'll win at least 11 before the bowl game. The key to this season is getting over the hump of the first four and then staying focused on the task at hand. I believe Weis learned from the few mistakes he made last year. I don't think you'll see the team come out flat like they did against Michigan State last year. I think he knows all the right buttons to push. But sometimes it comes down to luck and staying healthy. Notre Dame will have to remain relatively healthy to make a charge for a National Championship season.

Send in your questions to: mikefrankshow@gmail.com

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