What about Josh Jenkins?
Mike: I assume you mean the chances of ND landing Jenkins. If that's the case, I think ND is probably behind Ohio State at this point. Jenkins has mentioned numerous times he'd likely visit ND this summer, but so far he hasn't done that. I think he may have some interest, but I really don't think he'll end up at ND. I don't really see ND having much of a chance if he doesn't visit South Bend sometime this summer.
You've mentioned several times that many of our defensive players are situational, such as John Ryan being in on running downs and Vernaglia being in on passing downs. This scares the heck out of me. Isn't this easy pickings for offensive coordinators? If Ryan is in, pass. If Vernaglia is in, run.
Mike: I've mentioned that this may be the case based off of what I saw and heard from spring practices. If say Anthony Vernaglia would come in for Scott Smith in passing situations, he's in there for that reason…..it's an obvious pass situation and it's most likely the other team would pass in a 3rd and 9 situation. On first down a lot of teams tend to run, especially if you're having success with it. I don't think it would ever be a situation where one player only plays on a certain down. We've mentioned this scenario because some of ND's linebackers are better than others at certain things. I don't think anyone should be surprised to see Kerry Neal in the game in obvious passing situations or someone like Kerry.
What's going to happen with the WR position? What do you think about our current linebackers?
Mike: I don't have a crystal ball, so I'm not really sure what to expect at this point. I think we can be assured that David Grimes will be on the field most of the time at wide receiver. After Grimes, it's anyone's guess. I think Duval Kamara and Golden Tate have as good a chance as anyone to see the field this year. George West appears to have impressed some, but both Grimes and West are on the smaller side. I'd guess Weis would probably want another big target out there if he can find a consistent guy.
As for linebacker, I think that's going to be an interesting situation. I'd guess the only guy certain to start is Crum. I think Joe Brockington and Toryan Smith will have quite a battle this fall, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Toryan win that battle even though I felt Brockington was one of the better defensive players at the end of last year. As for the outside position, it appears John Ryan has been the most steady, but will he have the foot speed to keep up? I really couldn't predict the other spot. I think Vernaglia and Scott Smith will continue to battle, and Morrice Richardson and Kerry Neal could also add to the mix.
Mike, I know its relatively early in the process, but we have a great class shaping up so far. Assuming we continue to fill out our needs with quality commits and a few 5 star-type studs (maybe a Floyd, Filer, Forston/Johnson/Goebel), where do you see this class ranking this year and relative to Charlie's first two full classes?
Mike: It's kind of early to really say, but so far ND is off to a great start. I also think they have a chance to finish out this class with those currently offered, which would be great news if that happened. Right now ND is still in on many of their very top targets, and probably leading for a good number of them at this current time. As I've been saying for awhile, if ND can land another D-lineman, a corner prospect and a wide receiver before the season starts, they'll be in fantastic shape. I think they'll get the first two, not sure on the wide receiver at this point. Wide receiver is a big need for the Irish, and they can't afford to miss here. I don't think they will. The rest of the class looks to be shaping up as the best in his three years if they can continue along the same pace and get the vast majority of their 22 commitments from those currently offered.
Asaph Schwapp played at nearby Weaver High in Hartford...do you think he will retain the starting fullback position over Luke Schmidt...I believe he is their best blocker but what like to see him carry the ball more...your thoughts?
Mike: Charlie challenged Asaph at the end of spring practice and Charlie said Schwapp stepped up to that challenge. With any knee injury it takes time to heal, but Weis obviously wanted more out of Schwapp and got it. He looked great running the football in the spring game. I'd expect you'll see him more this year, but I also think that depends on how well he lead blocks, pass blocks and catches the ball out of the backfield. If he can't do those three things well, I'd expect to see more two tight end sets than a fullback in the game. I think it's up to Asaph at this point as to how much he plays. I do think you'll see both he and Schmidt get some time this year.
Do you think ND has any shot at Marcus Forston?
Mike: Yes, I do, but I'm not sure they'll be able to wait that long for him. Forston appears to want to wait and take all of his visits. My thoughts are this. I think ND would love to get four D-lineman committed by August. Newman will probably be one, and probably this weekend. If they can get a fourth, then they can wait patiently for a fifth D-lineman out of Forston, Ethan Johnson or Omar Hunter. But what ND can't afford to do is pass on a quality D-lineman hoping to land a guy like Forston.
Which incoming frosh will have the most impact in 2007?
Mike: My pick? Brandon Walker. Hopefully he takes both the kickoff and kicking duties right out of the gate as I'm very concerned with the kicking game. I also think Duval Kamara, Armando Allen and Kerry Neal have a shot to see considerable playing time among others.
Two years ago, Charlie's first season, going into the season we had hardly any talent but had experience. All the experts said it will take two to three years to get ND back to the top. Well then is now. Now they are saying this is going to be a rebuilding year. Now Charlie has talent with no experience. We were suppose to go 5-6 two years ago and we went 9-3.
This year they project 6-6 to 8-4. What I see as long as Charlie is the head coach, every year from here on out we go 8-4 or higher. What do you think?
What team is better going into the season '05 Irish team or this team? Experience vs. Talent!!
This is based on that the '04 was so bad.
Mike: I'd probably disagree that ND didn't have any talent in '04. They had talent and experience, but that talent hadn't been developed properly. Weis developed players like Quinn, Samardzija, Stovall, Fasano and Carlson.
Now the Irish have talent, but a good amount of it will be inexperienced. But I agree somewhat with what you're saying. Sometimes things don't turn out as bad as many think. I can see ND finishing with 10 wins this year, and I can also see a possible scenario where they'd lose five games. The difference will be how quickly this inexperienced talent develops, and probably a little bit of luck as well. I really think this team could really surprise if they had a little more depth at D-line. That's the one area that concerns me the most heading into the season. I do think the defense will look better, but depth issues at D-line might end up hurting the Irish in the end. But I do agree, I don't see Weis having any 5-win seasons like the two previous head coaches.
How interested is Arthur Brown in Notre Dame?
Mike: Good question. I'm not certain anyone really knows that answer other than Arthur. He has mentioned he plans to visit ND, so in that regard I think he's pretty interested. The key will be to get Arthur on campus as soon as possible. I know ND is working hard to make that happen, but so far it hasn't happened. Maybe it will this summer. If they can get him on campus this summer, I think they'll definitely be in the race. I still think he's the best player in the entire country.
If you have questions you'd like answered, feel free to e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll do my best to answer all of them in a similar type of article as many times a week as we have questions. Please feel free to ask any question and I'll be glad to answer.
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