Why don't we run more slants or crossing patterns?
Mike: There are many reasons you don't see slants and crossing patterns as much as you'd like. If a team is playing tight press coverage, and they're walking up the safeties a bit to help in the run game, the inside slants are usually taken away pretty effectively. You don't want to be throwing in the middle of the field with so many defenders clogging up the middle. This is when you see the Irish go to fade routes and go routes like we did against San Diego State, and Michigan to some extent. As the Irish start to make big plays, as we've seen with Golden Tate, teams will have to back off a bit and those routes will be open more often. Also, the Irish might be running more of these routes than you think, but Clausen just hasn't thrown to that particular route.
Mike & Coach noted that ND often got gouged when they blitzed, but they can get gouged by sitting back too. When San Diego State was on its second TD drive they hit a long pass on a four man rush. Granted timing in terms of calling & executing the blitz could be better, I'd rather force the other team to make plays fast.
Mike: This comment is in regards to some comments we made during the show about how much ND blitzes, and the consequences sometimes from when you blitz. This comment is true, and ND can be hurt just as bad when the Irish don't blitz. I guess my only rebuttal would be: Do you have more faith in Notre Dame's defensive backs to cover, or do you have more faith in those blitzing to get to the quarterback? Thus far I'd say coverage, but it's early in the season, and the more they work on blitzing, the better they'll be at it. However, this secondary has shown they're excellent in coverage, and on certain play situations I'd rather ride that horse.
It is logic that if you stop Ringer, you cripple Michigan St. Should Notre Dame load up the line and let our DBs fight for themselves? I believe that this game is going to be a bruising fight. It will be test to see how nasty this team can be and how much they really want it this year. One step in many to come.
Mike: Ringer is certainly their star player, and if you let him get started you could be in for a long day. Michigan State does have some talented receivers with some speed, but I think the most important thing is to shut down Ringer. I'm not sold on Michigan State's offensive line at this point, and the Irish should be able to make some negative plays on defense against the Spartans. However, I think the real key to this game is Notre Dame's offense. They're going to have to score some points to win this game. They're going to have to score early to be in the game at the end. If the Irish offense sputters early, this could be a long day for Notre Dame. The Irish have the opportunity to make a statement on Saturday. We'll see if they actually do make a statement.
Who do you think pulls the trigger next in recruiting? How do you think we will finish in February?
Mike: I don't really see anyone pulling the trigger in recruiting in the near future. Most players left on the board have decided to take official visits. That means they'll most likely take more than one. Since it's hard to play a game on Friday and then visit a school on Saturday, most players won't be able to take all their visits during the season. So, we'll have to play the waiting game on this for awhile. I just don't see anyone close to making a decision other than Glenn Carson. Also, I'm not sold he'll choose ND when he does.
Could you comment on CW deferring to kick two weeks in a row? I almost always love this decision. My problem this game was the weather would have told you to receive. Just wondering if there was a specific reason.
Mike: I disagree. I definitely would have deferred. The Irish were at home and the Michigan game usually comes down to the wire. You have the opportunity to set yourself up for the second half with a good drive to start the second half. You'll also see what they're game plan is/was, and you can adjust for a good drive to start the second half. Also, the Irish offense hadn't shown they could move the ball well on Michigan's defense previously. In fact, they only amassed 85 yards all game the previous year when many of the same players were playing against each other. If they started on offense and went three-and-out, that would've set a bad tone to start the game. I liked his decision here. I didn't like it against San Diego State.
I was really concerned with how poorly the defense seemed to respond to McGuffie throughout the game. I know you have said that stopping the run will be our weak point this year, but did you find it frustrating that ND could not adjust more for him?
Mike: First, I think McGuffie is a great player who made some plays. Second, I'm not sure it was so much scheme as it was poor tackling. The Irish missed a number of opportunities to stop him for little or no gain, but they missed the tackle or he just made a big play. Playmakers will make big plays. You just have to try to limit them. The way to do that is to be sound in tackling when they do get the ball. Notre Dame didn't do a very good job of that on Saturday.
How (if at all) is the defense going to change this week going against an opponent that doesn't run the spread? Is there a chance that Toryan Smith gets in?
Mike: I'm not sure the defense will change much, but personnel might change some. I think you'll see the Irish play more man/free coverage and commit a safety (McCarthy) to stopping Ringer, but that will give MSU the opportunity to make some big plays in the passing game if the Irish secondary doesn't do a good job in coverage. ND's strength, however, is their pass coverage, so this should allow ND to be fairly aggressive against the MSU run game. I'd expect to see more of Ian Williams in this game as they'll load up to stop the run. As for Toryan, he's usually in on goal line situations, but I haven't seen him much during any other part of the defensive package, so I'm not sure you'll see him more than on goal line.
If you had to pick 5 juniors that would commit to ND who would you pick?
Mike: Put me on the spot….I don't think you'll see any pull the trigger soon, but I'd say the players the Irish have the best shot at at this point would be Chance Carter, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Anthony Barr, Chris Martin, James Hurst and Brandon Linder.
Which players from the freshmen class are playing and are not going to redshirt?
Mike: Right now Kyle Rudolph, Michael Floyd, Robert Blanton, Darius Fleming, Trevor Robinson, and Ethan Johnson have played for the Irish. Some more might get into the game in the next few weeks, but the Irish will have to make a decision soon on these players.
What is up with Morrice Richardson? Hs he taken a step back? Why isn't he playing?
Mike: Morrice got hurt earlier in camp. I'm not certain if that is a lingering injury that has limited on the field or why he hasn't seen more time. My guess is the injury has limited him.
We are currently at 14 2009 commitments. But other than Oliver it does not seem like we are close on any other recruits (ok, maybe motta). Why does it feel like 2009 recruiting is faltering? Will be get any other DL recruits besides Stockton? Do you think we will get to 20+ commitments?
Mike: I'm not sure you'll find too many teams with a 3-9 record the previous year recruiting as well as Notre Dame has. The best thing ND can do right now is to continue to win football games. If they do they'll likely finish strong with recruiting. If they don't, this could be a small class. So much is riding on this season, and the good news is the season has started off well. Many kids are taking a "wait and see" approach with the Irish this year. Let's wait and see what happens before we panic. As long as ND continues to win and play well, recruiting should take care of itself.