Notre Dame Football Mailbag: What Kind of Impact Will the Freshmen Make?

Kyle O'ConnorContributor IIIAugust 29, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 29: The mascot of the Notre Dame Fight Irish does pushups after a touchdown against the Florida State Seminoles in the Champs Sports Bowl December 29, 2011 at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida.  FSU won 18 - 14. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will take the field bright and early Saturday morning. What does that mean? It's the perfect time to break out one final mailbag before the season kicks off. 

At first, nearly all of the questions directed toward me on Twitter and Facebook had something to do with Cierre Wood, one way or another. I'll get it out of the way now: there will be no specifics regarding what he did to get suspended. Wood is a terrific talent, he's suspended two games, and he'll be back for the Michigan State game in Week 3. In the meantime, I'm confident that Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III will do a great job holding down the fort. 

Now that we have that cleared up, let's get to the mailbag.


How much playing time do you think Chris Brown will see vs Navy? - @FritzHrdlicka3

According to Brian Kelly, every receiver on the roster better be ready. One thing is for sure: TJ Jones will see nearly every snap. Outside of that? It could very well be a free for all.

John Goodman, will see a fair share of snaps on the outside —if he's healthy. Goodman won't be alone though, as Davaris Daniels will see a ton of snaps on the outside as well, and look for Chris Brown to be in the mix. Brown is a top-tier athlete, so he could very well see time all over the field.

To answer your question, I'll put the over/under at 10 snaps for Brown on Saturday. If I were a betting man, I'd probably take the under. 

Who will get most of the carries while Cierre [Wood] is out? - Tina B.

Theo Riddick. I expect George Atkinson III to be heavily involved as well. Riddick is more than capable of being a back that gets 25 carries a contest after adding nearly 20 pounds of muscle to his frame in the offseason. However, don't forget that he'll see a decent amount of time in the slot as well, which is why Atkinson III will also be a major contributor. Irish fans are very high on Atkinson, as they should be after seeing his huge performance in the spring game.

If a third back is going to work his way into the rotation, it will be USC transfer Amir Carlisle, who should be ready go to by the Purdue game in Week 2 after battling injuries since spring ball. Like Riddick, Carlisle has also been seeing some time in the slot.

Davonte [Neal] will start how many games this year at WR? - @butters88

Five? It's hard to say; Robby Toma is a good player. Not only is Toma a good player, Theo Riddick will see time in the slot as well, along with Amir Carlisle. The reason I'm going a little high and saying five is that when you have an athlete the caliber of Neal, it's really hard to keep him on the sideline, especially for a program like Notre Dame.

The Irish have lacked an explosive playmaker for a while, and Neal fits the bill perfectly. I wouldn't be surprised to see Brian Kelly give Neal the nod at slot heading into the Oklahoma game in Norman. After, or if, Neal is handed the job, he won't lose it. 

I heard that Coach Kelly wasn't too thrilled about playing in Ireland and that [Jack] Swarbrick said it's a hassle but I also saw that Swarbrick wants to play in China next year. What are your thoughts on this? - @jonrodriguez2

It's a tough situation. Brian Kelly has not made it a secret that he's not exactly a fan of opening up in Ireland. Not only does it put his staff and players in a tough spot playing in a foreign country, it's the impact it could have on the next few weeks is what worries him the most. 

The Irish would have to come back to South Bend on an odd schedule and prepare for Purdue that Saturday. Next up? They travel to East Lansing to take on the Spartans, then welcome the Wolverines of Michigan to South Bend the following week before getting a bye week. Not exactly a cake walk.

As for moving one of their upcoming games to China, it is something that Swarbrick had been discussing with then-Stanford AD Bob Bowlsby for quite some time. The plans recently hit a roadblock when Bob Bowlsby was brought on by the Big 12 to be commissioner, and the whole idea is in a holding pattern right now. However, don't be surprised to see the Irish and the Cardinal squaring off in China within the next handful of years. 

How bad would Golson have to look before he's pulled? - Matt S.

He would have to be horrifyingly bad for Brian Kelly to pull him in the opener against Navy on Saturday. Kelly has gone down that road before and would prefer not to ever do it again.

Then again, the staff will absolutely not tolerate turnovers from the quarterback position this season. If Golson is to struggle against Navy in Week 1 and follow it up with a poor outing against Purdue in the home opener, it's possible that Hendrix would get a shot to show what he can do when they head into the very important Michigan games. 


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