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Mailbag: Purdue edition

Michael Bertsch

Michael Bertsch


With the festivities already started in Indianapolis, let’s empty the mailbag before tomorrow night’s Shamrock Series game against Purdue.

I appreciate some of you doing your best to keep the questions concise. As for the others? Well, that’s what the comment section is for.

In honor of the Shamrock Series, here’s SID Michael Bertsch showing off the new helmet. Looking good, Mike!

Here we go:

irishmob89: After the 31-0 win under the lights, on primetime television, and a great atmosphere on top of that, how much of an impression do you think it left on the recruits? Do you have any inside information on any of them possibly leaning Notre Dame as a result?

The performance certainly didn’t hurt, I can tell you that, especially in head-to-head battles between Notre Dame and Michigan. If you want “inside information,” our friends at Irish Illustrated can hook you up, as well as Blue & Gold, Irish Eyes, Irish Sports Daily, etc.

But from my vantage point, Notre Dame did good work with Soso Jamabo and Tevon Coney, two priority targets who were on campus, and hopefully they convinced Porter Gustin to realize that a legit defensive end would absolutely put up monster numbers in this system.

The staff also did a great job with the 2016 class. You’ve got to think the Irish will land one of the two blue-chip quarterbacks who were on campus, with Malik Henry and Shea Patterson both giving the visit high marks. There were also a handful of other elite-looking recruits in the 2016 group enjoying the trip, so Notre Dame is a full cycle ahead of where they need to be right now.

northtexasirish: What shamrock series location has had the biggest impact on recruiting success?

That’s a good question and how you answer that likely means you believe that this actually does have an impact on recruiting. But I’ve got to think the leader in the clubhouse was last year’s visit to Dallas and AT&T Stadium. Notre Dame’s not getting much from New York City or the Northeast. They certainly were doing fine in Indianapolis even without this game.

But in general, the ability to talk to recruits about playing historic games in cool venues -- like Yankee Stadium, Soldier Field or Fenway Park next year -- that’s the kind of thing that the Shamrock Series helps. Besides spreading the Notre Dame brand to this country’s loyalists.

johngaltisspeaking: Keith how will we able to keep up with USC recruiting? USC already looks like a top notch SEC team. I think this game is going to be close and I see many L coming down the pike for Nd with the way USC is recruiting.

Oh John. Of all the lovely trolls in the land, you seem to pride yourself on being one of the finest. But I’m only answering this question because it’s kind of interesting. And because -- DID YOU ACTUALLY WATCH THAT USC GAME? That’s a top-notch SEC team? That was an ugly, boring, embarrassing game for the Trojans, and I’m only talking about Pat Haden and Steve Sarkisian’s performance. (Then again it was David Shaw who essentially gave them the game.)

One thing that will be interesting is to see how quickly USC goes to fill up their coffers. In the recruiting class before the sanctions took hold, SC loaded up with a gigantic class. That’s putting a lot of pressure on your evaluation skills, not to mention the fact it’s creating transfer scenarios that ended up double-dooming SC.

For all the worries you’ve seemed to have over Brian Kelly’s propensity to take recruits that guys who write on the internet deem less worthy than others, it looks like Kelly and his staff have zeroed in on what they want and are doing a pretty good job. So I’ll be in the press box Thanksgiving weekend looking forward to another big game.

don74: 2 winnable games before the meat of the season starts. What do we need to see against Purdue and Syracuse to start to believe this good be a very good run?

I’d like to see Malik Zaire get a chance to throw a pass. I’d like to see the suspensions of the five players get figured out. And I’d like to see the defense continue to improve their play on first and second downs.

More importantly, I want to make sure that Notre Dame is 4-0 going into Stanford. That could be a special game.

goirishgo: If Shumate continues his strong play this week and against Syracuse do you believe Collinsworth will get his starting job back when healthy?

That’s a fair point. But I think the secondary can utilize both players, especially if Collinsworth is head and shoulders above Shumate or Redfield from a knowledge-base point of view.

There’s no question that Shumate is one of the team’s most talented safeties. If he keeps playing with confidence he’ll be hard to take off the field.

nicenirish: We have two rising stars that seem to be more athletic RB’s than Cam in Bryant and Folston… Coming into the season Cam was named captain and then starter against Rice. But Michigan it seemed like Bryant got the early nod. Can you make any sense on what is going on with the RB by committee?

Not sure you can read too much into the running game against Michigan, because BK was merely running to keep Michigan honest and keep the passing game in check.

I expect the young guys to take command of this, but McDaniel looks more explosive than he has in the past, and that’ll keep him on the field. But seriously, let’s all agree that Cam shouldn’t be the guy running the delayed draw/counter. That was six yards on a carry that had half the stadium fooled.

onward2victory: Keith, my wife wants to get a 3 legged cat and name it Poopsie. Do you have any advice for me?? Note: we’ve been married 2 years, no pets, no kids, apartment living in OC, CA.

Go take a thousand bucks and throw it out the window on the 405. Or take your wife shopping instead at Fashion Island. You’ll have more fun doing both than making the other decision.

irishinmich: Has there been any talk about that helmet to helmet block/blindside of Trumbetti by Michigan’s tight end? I have seen players ejected for “targeting” on lesser collisions. Namely Tuitt’s hit last year. Could Kelly submit a tape to the powers that be? The wound is there. May as well pour some salt on it.

I don’t expect Kelly to talk about it, even if he did send it in to the B1G office. Nor do I expect the conference to do anything about it, either. Did think it was a little bit of a miss that they protect and call the hit on Devin Gardner and not the one on Trumbetti.

But either way, that’s a “Welcome to College Football,” collision. Yes, it’s one of those hits you’re trying to get out of the game. But it’s also a knockout shot I’m probably taking in a big rivalry game.

newmexicoirish: Barring injuries, do you see the running back rotation continuing as the season progresses? If not, who do see separating themselves from the trio and why?

I think there’s going to be a balance at running back for all three guys, as long as they stay healthy. But if someone is going to run away with the job, I think it’s going to be Folston or Bryant. Both are just too talented not to feed the ball to, with Bryant also having the ability to mix power with big-play potential.

uptheera44: Did you notice that on Michigan’s second FG attempt, the ball ricocheted off someone’s helmet? The announcers, oddly enough, didn’t really scrutinize it and chalked it up to “a low kick” — but in fact it was blocked — by, I believe, Ben Councell’s helmet. Can we get the kid some credit?

I spent quite a bit of time on the DVR trying to decide who got a piece of that kick, because the spin did change. But my conclusion? What a terrible kick. Would love to say someone from ND did a great job, but that feels like a tee ball participation trophy.

flandersst1: 41.5 points – over/under on Notre Dame’s final score? Also, what quarter would you expect to see Malik running the read option?

Notre Dame goes over... And Zaire scores his first rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter to do it.

burns4irish: Rank the receivers if/when Torii Hunter Jr. and Davaris Daniels come back into play?

I think Daniels moves into Chris Brown’s spot at outside receiver. I think Hunter starts to work in as a quality backup. I just don’t know why and how you take Will Fuller off the field, and the slot receiver job has been capably filled by Amir Carlisle and C.J. Prosise.

But it could be fun to see Kelly go five wide and turn it into a basketball game on (synthetic) grass.

jerseyshorendfan: Over the years, the debate has raged, on this site and others, with some believing that every team that ND plays considers the game as their Superbowl and really gets up to play the Irish. Others find that idea to be pure hogwash. What’s your opinion?

Having played for a team with ND on the jersey, there’s something to this. Now, I also think that it’s far from an excuse for losing to a mediocre team. Notre Dame isn’t the only team with name-brand recognition, so playing the Irish is probably like gearing up to play Ohio State, Alabama, Texas, etc. (Just look how excited BYU was to take it to the Longhorns again.)

irishkg07: I know it’s difficult to make much of an assessment so early but it seems that this young defense is making up for mental miscues and inexperience with speed and athleticism. That seems fine for the September slate, but do you think our pre-season concerns come rearing their ugly heads come October?

I guess that’s why you play the games, right? Kelly said that his team graded out around 65 percent on defense against Michigan when it came to mental mistakes. That’s a pretty low number for pitching a shutout, and I think it speaks both to the team’s athleticism and the advanced (and difficult) scheme.

There’s no reason to think that the Irish defense won’t get better as they continue learning. Then again, opposing coaches will see schemes and BVG’s system and likely counter-punch.

Ultimately, this group is playing much better than most expected or hoped. If they can keep it up during October that would make for a mighty fun season.

danirish: Keith, last week I asked about the WR”s by committee and if we should get used to “7 different receivers catching balls.” Your answer was that we didn’t have a 5-star like Floyd to constantly feed the ball – not that Fuller and Carlise are 5-stars but are they now the “men?”

Neither broke 100 yards. Good games? For sure. But let’s pump the brakes a bit, especially with Fuller having a couple drops that took some potential big plays off the board.

Huge deal that they came through in clutch situations. But I’ve seen Mike Floyd. And these two aren’t there yet.

@HilltownRick215: Any chance Miami (OH) goes to the big house and beats the skunkbears? w/ Hendrix and Martin itll be like they lost to ND twice!

That would be the end of Brady Hoke as we know it. I hope Hendrix and Martin both have great success, but they are up against long odds this weekend. But I’ll be watching.

@BearclawBR: Is Notre Dame going to get some commitments from the large group that attended the Michigan game anytime soon?

Sooner than later. Notre Dame’s not in a huge hurry, but likely wants to add Jamabo, Coney and an elite edge rusher. There are also a few 2016 recruits who might start the party early.

@JMset3: How long until people start realizing Joe Schmidt is a good linebacker? I am a converted skeptic.

Welcome to the bandwagon. I’ve been driving it since he was playing big time high school football in Southern California.