Sean in Fort Worth:
I believe this team will surprise all of us and be very exciting to watch play...I like 10-2 or 9-3 ...do you agree?
Mike: Sean, I do think the Notre Dame defense might surprise some people this year. I don't think they'll be a top 30 type of defense, but I do think you'll see a different attitude, and I think you'll see more productivity out of a number of positions. I think quality depth along the front might be a problem for the defense next year.
As for the offense, I don't think anyone would question Weis' ability to get production out of his offense given the talent, but Notre Dame is essentially replacing all the playmakers (minus Carlson) and three offensive linemen. That's never a recipe for success. I think the offense will struggle initially, but I do think you'll start seeing success about mid-season. The running game will be the real key for the Irish. They need to be able to run the ball effectively next year to have any hope for a productive offense.
I think 10-2 or 9-3 is a very optimistic look at the Irish next season. If Weis somehow pulled that off, I'd be amazed. I just think the early part of Notre Dame's schedule is going to be too difficult to get through without some losses. I just think at Penn State, at Michigan, at UCLA and USC at home will be very difficult to win. Georgia Tech at home to start the season will also be very difficult as the Yellow Jackets return a lot of players from a good 2006 team. It's possible the Irish could end up with that type of record, but I'd say it's unlikely.
John in Houston:
Is ND actively recruiting Brandon Green, the wide receiver from Illinois? Do you know where he ranks in the pecking order in terms of ND's wide receiver list?
Mike: ND is recruiting him, but I'm not sure if he's an elite prospect for them. They're definitely aware of Brandon, but ND already has offered four wide receivers and have one committed. Green is more of a smallish, speedy receiver, and Notre Dame has already offered A.J. Alexander and Martavious Odoms, two players similar to Green. It's possible he could be pursued by the Irish, but Notre Dame usually likes to get an idea where they stand with those offered before moving on to other players.
1) How many wide receivers are the Irish taking this year in
Mike: I believe they'll take three receivers this year if they land three that are on very high on their list. If they miss out on most of their initial offers, they may just take two. I think it depends on if that third wide receiver will be better than someone they might be able to land the following year. It's not a huge need position, but if you can land a great one, you have to take him.
2) What are our chances with Will Hill.
And what position are we recruiting him at?
Mike: Will hasn't shown a great deal of interest in Notre Dame thus far. He mentions the Irish, but I wouldn't say ND is a leader for him or probably in his top two at this point. I think the Irish are definitely trying to get in the race, and he's an electrifying player. Right now I think the Irish probably have some work to do, but as we've seen already, coach Corwin Brown seems to be a real hit on the recruiting trail thus far. I'm sure he'll be working on Will as well. ND is recruiting Hill as a safety.
Jim in Chicago:
You didn't sound too positive on Steve Filer earlier. Where do you think we stand with him?
Mike: I believe the Irish have a very good chance to land Filer, but I don't think it's the lock some seem to think it is. I think Filer likes ND quite a bit, but I also think he has interest in a good number of schools, and not just Notre Dame. I also wonder if there will be any spots left at linebacker when Steve is ready to make his decision. The linebacker position could fill up fast. I do think ND has a good shot, but I also think they'll have a battle on their hands to get him.
Greg in Knox, Ind.:
Do we have a good shot at Shayne Hale?
Mike: I'm not really sure. I originally spoke with him awhile ago, and I didn't get the impression that Notre Dame was high on his list, but Jeff spoken to him later and got an entirely different opinion and felt the Irish did have a shot at Shayne. Hale doesn't seem like the type to really tip his hand, and he also doesn't seem set on making a decision any time soon. I think there are many cards left to be played in this hand, and I really couldn't say which school would be considered Hale's favorite at this point. I do know he's been to Notre Dame on a visit and seemed impressed with the campus. I think it will be awhile before we know anything about which way he's leaning.
Greg in Knox, Ind.
Do we have a good shot with Kapron Lewis-Moore?
I believe the Irish do have a good shot at Lewis-Moore. He seems genuinely interested in Notre Dame, and seemed flattered the Irish offered him so early in the process. I think the real key here will be to get him to come up on an unofficial visit sometime over the spring or summer. I'm sure they're working on trying to make that happen.
Irish in St. Louis:
What's the status of the other defensive coaches? I don't understand why they are resting all of the responsibility for the linebacker position on Polian.
Mike: I think the staff is set at this point. I don't anticipate any further coaching changes. I think they're pretty set with those they have. Coach Polian doesn't have the entire responsibility for the linebackers. Coach Brown will be coaching the linebackers just as coach Minter did last year.
Rome in San Antonio:
Do you think Charlie will be less likely to get pass-happy if the team falls behind early next season?
Mike: I think coach Weis will have to be committed to the running game next year because I think that's the only way he'll have much success. With a brand new quarterback, brand new receivers, and three new offensive linemen, I think you'll see a lot of eight-man fronts. You'll see defensive backs sitting on the short routes, and teams crowding the line of scrimmage when the Irish are scrimmaging on offense. The only way they're going to be able to get some teams to back off is if they can run the football, and to hit some big plays in the passing game. I just don't think you'll see Weis get too pass-happy next year. I think Weis knows that he'll have to have a consistent running game to get the offense over the next hump. I'm not sure he had the necessary tools to do that last year.
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