Mike's Mailbag

Here's another round of questions left over from Power Hour. Keep those questions coming.

What are the chances we see a starting defensive line early in the season of Pat Kuntz and Trevor Laws at DE and one of either Hand or Stewart in the middle?

Mike: While I think Kuntz playing defensive end would probably be ideal, so far he's at nose guard for a reason. ND is trying to get their three best players on the field. Kuntz is one of them. As of now, it doesn't appear that ND feels comfortable enough with either Hand or Stewart at nose guard to move Kuntz to his more natural position of defensive end. This, in my opinion, will be the biggest problem for the defense this season. I just don't think the Irish have the horses up front to be a great defense. It's possible Hand or Stewart could take the job, but so far neither has really made a significant challenge. I can say there was a noticeable difference between the first and second team defensive line when watching them in the spring game….and the second string D-line was going against the second string O-line most of the game.

Do you think we will be able to stop the run with the D-Line we have at this point? I feel this is a realistic concern.

Mike: As I mentioned above, this is a big concern for me as well. I think the Irish will be able to put pressure on the quarterback with this defense, but the run is really want concerns me. The Irish can do some things scheme-wise to confuse offenses, but it boils down to winning the battle in the trenches. I think the first team D-line should be good, but I'm very concerned about the depth at the position, and they'll take some pounding, especially as the season goes along.

Why isn't Notre Dame able to land the best wide receiver prospects in the country? After developing Stovall, Samardzija, Fasano & Carlson into some of the best receivers/ tight ends in the nation from reletively unknowns, not to mention the incoming classes which include Clausen, the blue chip O-line, tight ends & stacks of top notch running backs...who wouldn't want to play receiver at Notre Dame under Weis' eye? I don't get it. What's going on?

Mike: I think a lot of people are wondering the same thing, but as Jeff pointed out on Power Hour, Weis did land some top wide receivers last year, he just didn't hold onto them. People forget that both Greg Little and Arrelious Benn committed to Weis. He thought he was done at wide receiver, so he didn't bother recruiting others. He took both players at their word and then both backed out on their word. ND still has a good shot at three elite wide receivers in this class---Mike Floyd, Brice Butler and Jonathan Baldwin. He just needs to get two of them. There's a fair chance he will. But I agree, it seems strange the elite receivers aren't excited about Notre Dame considering all the recent success. If ND continues to have success throwing the football, I don't think it will be a problem for much longer.

When do the rest of the freshman get on campus and begin practicing with the team?

Mike: I'm not certain, but I believe the freshmen report the weekend of June 16th. For some reason that date sticks in my mind.

Mike, any sense of what effect the texting ban may have for ND? A net positive or negative?

Mike: Good question. I'm not sure it's a bad thing. All teams have to abide by the rules so it would impact everyone. The real difference will be that the attention now will most likely shift to the parents and the high school coach. A team better have a great relationship with both the coach and the parents because those two sets of people will be the people all coaching staffs can contact to get in touch with the prospect outside of the allowable contact for each team to call. ND can't just text a player and say "call me." They'll have to go through the parent and/or the coach now to reach these players outside the normal contact rules. I think ND has been preparing for this, however, as we've seen parents saying that the coaching staff stays in good contact with them as much as their sons.

Is (Chris) Stewart really going to make it on the defensive side of things?

Mike: If I had to predict, I'd say probably not. While I think Chris is a hard worker—the changes in his body show that—I think you're either born a defensive player or an offensive player. I think Chris is better suited for O-line, just as I doubt Emeka Nwankwo and Andrew Nuss will end up along the defensive side of the ball. I think both are great prospects, but I think there's a reason almost all the teams recruiting these players recruited them as offensive linemen.

I know that we are expected to have a somewhat sub-par year. Where do you see us in '08 and '09 with Charlie guys being juniors and seniors? Better yet will we hang and BEAT the elite?

Mike: I suppose it depends on what you call a sub-par year. I do think you're smart in being realistic with your expectations. This senior class has six total members. Think about that…..

However, I do think the Irish can have a good season. I just don't see them as a BCS type of team this season. I do see the Irish getting back into the BCS hunt and landing in a BCS game in '08, and if things continue to progress, they could be in the hunt for the National Championship in '09, maybe even '08 depending on how quickly some players develop. Again, this is just my opinion.

Who are we close with at running back?

Mike: I don't think anyone is really close to committing to ND at running back. The one guy we don't know much about is Ryan Williams. I've heard he has a real strong interest in ND, but he hasn't really gotten involved in talking with the media about his thoughts on recruiting. I do think ND has a solid shot to land him. Carlton Thomas and Cyrus Gray are the other two players Notre Dame has a chance to land at running back.

I was just wondering if you could give your opinion on our chances with five-star defensive prospects like Forston, Hale, Brown, etc....

Mike: I can only say what I think about the situation today. It could change tomorrow. I'd say ND's chances are better than fair with Forston. I think their chances with Hale are slim. I think their chances with Arthur Brown are probably fair. I also think it's way too early to really predict for all three players as I don't think either will decide anytime soon, and when you have time, you have time to change opinions.

Why do you think Charlie Weis offered Dayne Crist over Andrew Luck? It just seems like Andrew would fit in weis' system better than Crist would.

Mike: Really? I like Luck, but I like Crist's potential much more. I think Dayne has as much raw ability as any quarterback I've seen in recent memory. He has the physical tools to be an outstanding quarterback. He'll need to fine-tune some things, but if he can get the little things down better, he should have outstanding potential. I think that's what Weis saw in offering Crist, but I can't really speak for Charlie.


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