Reading Between the Lines

Fall camp begins today for the Irish, just as it has for most teams across the country over the course of this week.

Ah yes, Media Day. Coaches deliver their State-of-the-Program speeches. New assistants are introduced. Players talk about the off-season and the season that awaits. Depth charts are revealed.

In most instances, fans and media will hear similar musings from each coach, assistant, and set of players nationwide. Generally positive comments, rarely exclamatory; alternating between insightful and mundane.

What you won't hear, but (in some cases) probably should, is anything listed below.

Top 20 Answers You Won't Hear Anywhere on Media Day

Defensive Captain: "No, we're not really an aggressive defense – we just read our keys, play sound defense and like to mix up our coverages to confuse young quarterbacks. This isn't the NFL. The other team WILL make a mistake if you play smart defense. We focus on tackling well, keeping everything in front of us, and allowing our opponents to beat themselves… kind of a ‘purist's defense.'"

Junior Starter: "Actually, we don't really hang out much off the field. But we will knock your head off when you step between the lines against us – so I suppose in that way there's some camaraderie. I'd rather play with these guys than a bunch of friendly teammates any day though; because the bottom line is getting the W…then we go our separate ways and regroup for Monday's practice."

Sophomore Starter: "No, actually this defense is much more difficult to grasp. Last year was simple: we just ran and hit the guy with the ball. But our new defensive coordinator has put in a defensive playbook that resembles the Los Angeles County Yellow Pages…he's supposed to know what he's talking about though. He came from the NFL."

Senior Starter: "Let's see, summer workouts…really no different than last year. I felt I was in shape for most of last season and figured, why change? We finished 11-1 and our summer conditioning had little to do with that loss, I mean, Texas beat us by 40, I don't think those beers I drank in July had much to do with it."

Offensive Line Captain: "We're more of a finesse line, actually. Very few mental mistakes; no penalties; solid pass protection due to a major practice focus on our footwork. I mean, when the ball is snapped we fire off the line in unison and control the defender in front of us, but we're certainly not maulers or anything like that. We work without pads quite a bit just so we're technically perfect each week.

Head Coach: "Ya, I'll talk about his suspension. I don't think it was warranted at all. They're football players, not choir boys. Besides, that wouldn't even have been reported in the 80s…"

Head Coach: "One thing about our middle linebacker that you need to understand, okay – Yes, he's a great tackler. And yes, he's the most instinctive player I've ever coached and played most of last season with a broken hand. But he's terrible in our cone drills. There's no way I'm putting him in the game this season if he can't look good in that simple agility test."

Head Coach: "The one thing I'm going to stress this August is how good last year's team was. I think there's a huge carryover from last November to this September. You can't discount how good we looked on Senior Day."

Starting Running Back: "Fumbling problem? How about we talk about the giant brick wall I run into every time I take a hand-off?"

Starting Cornerback: "I like this Cover 2 scheme because the idea of being left on an island vs. some of the wide receivers on our schedule is kind of scary. At least this way I'll have a Safety over the top to help out."

Senior Outside Linebacker: "We don't expect to blitz much because that doesn't play to our strengths. You know what they say about teams that blitz 80 percent of the time…the other 20 percent is extra points."

Offensive Line Coach: "Will there be a drop-off? Well sure, we're replacing a junior that was good enough to enter the NFL draft early with a senior that's never been able to hold down a starting role in the past, so yeah, I do expect a drop-off."

Defensive Coordinator: "I'm not really concerned with our tackling as much as our average 40-yard dash times. We need to improve those."

Head Coach: "Overall I'm pretty disappointed by this recruiting class. Actually I personally think they all look strong on film, but the average star rankings the kids received from the recruiting services were kind of low, so that's given me reason for concern."

Special Teams Coach: "Oh there's no doubt he's our best NFL prospect. What I'm most impressed with is his directional punting – that's a lost art in today's game."

Wide Receivers Coach: "Sometimes change for the sake of change is good – we're going with freshman. These seniors have had three, even four years to show us something and my job is on the line."

5th Year Senior: "Ya, I was projected to go in the first round of the draft, but I'm using this extra year to get my degree. I slacked off last season in the classroom and figured I needed this Bachelor's Degree in General Studies down the line because what businessman in the state of Michigan would hire a guy just because he was a three-time All American?"

Assistant Coach: "Ya, he's a great guy to work for. Good golfer, too. And my golf game has improved quite a bit since I started working for him, I must admit. But no, we don't have much of a head start on next year's recruiting class, but I'm not worried, it's only August."

Head Coach: "I hadn't thought about that until I read your column, but yeah, I think we'll try that this season."

Senior Player: "I don't know man…9-3 sounds pretty good to me." Top Stories