It's new-and-improved Mailbag time at Insights, where we take your comments, criticisms and e-mails and answer them or give them props in this space. Questions about anything Notre Dame, football, basketball, field hockey, other college sports, bug repellent and anything else is fair game, welcomed and applicable. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave them in comment boxes below during the week and we'll snatch them up. If you do ask a question, we ask that you list your name (at least first one) and hometown. And one day, we'll enforce it, too.
On to the questions, which, as always, come from real readers:
I noticed late in the UCLA game when the Irish were on defense, Darrin Walls nor Raeshon McNeil were on the field. Is this because the Irish were running a prevent zone and those guys match up better in man-to-man, or did the coaches feel better with the more experienced dime lineup of (Terrail) Lambert, (Leo) Ferrine, (Ambrose) Wooden, (David) Bruton, Zibby but then there was (Munir) Prince, what gives? Thanks.
Honestly, we're not sure. From the television view we had, we didn't even notice the shift in this package and who was in. What we can tell you is we noticed Prince in the game a lot. It shows more than anything that the sophomore is finally adjusted to his move to cornerback. As for that package, we'll take a good look this week when we're back on site for games.
This week's question is about punt returns. I, too, like Zibby's leadership and toughness, real tough, but when you look at consistently successful punt returners, you have to look for speed. What are the chances we see some T and A (Tate and Allen) back there returning punts, would be exciting, yeah? Or do you think that Charlie is looking to help someone's draft status? Thanks.
Good question. Zbikowski hasn't been given much room to do anything on punt returns this year. When he has had some room, he has made good progress up the field. Some of those returns were negated, though, due to penalties. Unless Zbikowski gets hurt or asks off of it don't expect to see Tate or Allen back there until 2008.
I'm 1-0. You're 0-5. I'll buy your wings if you stay out of the House Rockne Built this Saturday.
Don't think my boss will appreciate it but pay my yearly salary and throw in some gluten-free pizza and cookies and you got yourself a deal.
I enjoy the blog. You do a great job.
Here is my question: Does anyone else think it is weird that Charlie Jr. stands next to his father during games with coaches' headphones on? Am I the only person that thinks this is strange? Has anyone asked Charlie about it? Did Lou (Holtz) let Skip (Holtz, the current ECU head coach) wear headphones during the game?
Sorry, we don't obsess over where Charlie Jr. is. Charlie the coach explained that his son wants to get into coaching, so it is likely a way for him to learn the ropes. I wouldn't be too concerned about him calling plays, though. Honestly, when you're a football coach you are away from your family a lot. If that's a way for him to be close to his son, more power to him. As far as Lou and Skip, Skip was a senior at Notre Dame when Lou took over and then coached under his father, so one would hope he wore headphones from time-to-time.
Okay Michael, I have to say something about your Top 25. I am a huge Michael Rothstein fan, but I have a HUGE problem with your rankings this week. How in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks do you have USC only dropping 7 slots after losing at their house to unranked and, as one blogger put it -- "Craptacular," Stanford team and you have Wisconsin dropping 15 slots after losing to a very good Illinois team on the road? I know you base your rankings on other factors, but C'MON! SC should, at least be down in the teens. Now I know the Trojans are 10th in the AP poll, but it should also be much lower there.
Anyhow, sorry, I just had to vent. I hate USC so much and I live in Southern California and have to listen to this kind of Trojan bias all the time!
Great job on all your other stuff, I just had to vent about your poll because the people at the AP just don't care what I think and they don't post my e-mails on Fridays!
San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
You aren't the only one inquiring about our decision not to drop USC as far as other teams. And we're happy people are paying attention to our poll (Happier this week, South Carolina fans? We were hoping to hear from you). But we'll break our decision down like this. The way we judge it is that we base on who would beat whom at that particular point in the season. And we believe USC -- which dismantled Nebraska -- is one of the best teams in the nation. Wisconsin, on the other hand, has been thoroughly unimpressive most of the season. Heck, they were underdogs to Illinois as the No. 5 team in the nation. The Trojans would beat up on the Badgers, despite what some Insights friends and Wisconsin graduates might say. Plus, USC lost a close game. Wisconsin was beaten up badly by Illinois. And while we're talking about the Illini, any chance they shock everyone and win the Big Ten this year? Anyone else think this might be a possibility?
What do you think the chances that Charlie Weis will learn to be a good coach at the college level? Is he making the proper adjustments to build a competitive team from the ground up starting with the offensive and defensive lines? Can Coach Weis master the necessary emotional motivation of his players? I think ND should stick with Charlie for at least two more years. Your thoughts?
We think Weis has a good shot at being a good college coach as long as he stays out of his own head and goes on his instincts sometimes. When he tries to be too clever or outthink someone, that's when Notre Dame gets into trouble. He is starting to really understand the emotional nature of college players, evidenced by the blowup at halftime at Purdue and the reaction after. As far as the adjustments, he is recruiting well and that's the best way to remedy success. Notre Dame will stick with Charlie after this season for sure and barring a lack of progress next year, we don't think he's on the block just yet.
Weird stat of the day: It's October and Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana and UConn have lost a combined total of two football games.
"All is right with the world" thought: By January, Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana and UConn will possibly have lost a combined total of five or less basketball games. It's been a weird year in college football.
If you need any more evidence that BC is nothing more than a moldy sock left behind in your freshman dorm (used for illicit purposes), just ask yourselves who produces the best television personalities...we have Joe Theismann and (Brent) Musberger. They have (Doug) Flutie and Joe Tessitore.
Oliver, Oliver, Oliver. Rough comparison there, man, especially since Musberger went to the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern. So Notre Dame can't even claim Brent. Good try, though. We will even go as far to say the Irish don't even compare to some of the nastiness in Day Hall (our freshman dorm at Syracuse, since you mentioned freshmen dorms) when it comes to television personalities. SU has Dick Stockton, Bob Costas, Marv Albert, Mike Tirico and Carter Blackburn, among others. There isn't the nickname "The Syracuse Mafia," around journalist types for nothing.
Love the lacrosse reference.
Just wait till the spring when the season gets underway.
And today's final rant goes to Robert T. Gilleran, who has issues with us, apparently.
Anyway, on to Bob's rant (and we're responding after each number):
1. we are all thankful that you are not playing for or coaching the notre dame football team or any other team.
As are we, except for the massive pay increase we'd get.
2. charlie weis and corwin brown had the perfect game plan for ucla, which has one of the best defenses in the nation.
ND won the game, but the gameplan, which resulted in 140 yards of offense, wasn't perfect. Plus, the Bruins were moving the ball before Ben Olson got hurt.
3. this notre dame team would have won this game with or without ben olson at qb for the entire game.
See point No. 2. We disagree because Olson wouldn't have turned the ball over seven times.
4. you saw only as much nd offense as was necessary to win the ucla game and that is all you were supposed to see, not nearly everything that this young team is now capable of.
As opposed to all of the other games -- all losses -- where Notre Dame played close to no offense. Do you really think the Irish are going to become an offensive juggernaut overnight? Can you pass the peyote?
5. that great ucla defense took the bait and planned their whole game on shutting down and picking off the long passes to golden tate.
Um, Notre Dame ran for THREE yards in the first half. So the Irish baited them to what exactly? Stopping the entire Irish offense?
6. boston college and usc and the rest of us will see only as much of what this notre dame offense can really do as is necessary to win those games, along with a very confident and mature nd defense.
So you think Weis will hold back against two Top 10 teams? Really? That sounds like a winning plan. I'd be glad you're not coaching.
7. charlie weis performed miracles in 2005 and 2006 with some great talent at some positions, but with absolutely no depth.
We finally agree! Notre Dame didn't have depth in 2005 or 2006 -- but those "miracles" had more to do with Brady Quinn and experienced talent.
8. he has revived the notre dame recruiting network that lazy bob davie let die on the vine because davie liked to sit in south bend in his office instead of getting out on the recruiting trail by bringing in those fine recruiting classes of 2006 and 2007 and, with corwin brown's help, will ad (sic) to that the nation's top recruiting class for 2008.
Weis has recruited well but what does Bob Davie have to do with this? Did he kick your dog? (By the way, add Davie to the commentators list for Notre Dame. And that's a plus. Honestly)
9. when the national championships start rolling in in the near future, we will all look back to this courageous 2007 team and their brilliant execution of the perfect game plan at the rose bowl on 10/6/2007 as one of notre dame's finest games ever played and the turning point bringing notre dame back from the curse of lazy bob davie.
Back to Davie again? Really? Dude. Stop blaming Bob Davie. He hasn't been here in a long time. And courageous? Please save that for military people and guys like Ray Ray McElrathbey. In the end, these guys won a football game against a walk-on quarterback.
10. we find your lack of perception and faith to be appalling. without a change in attitude, you are perfectly suited for writing obituaries, not covering sports.
OK, is this you, mom?
we will pray for your enlightenment,
bob gilleran and family
Thanks for reading. See ya next Friday. Don't forget to send in those questions.
-By Michael Rothstein of The Journal Gazette