ASU Mailbag: Here comes the sun


With an early flight to Phoenix and a kickoff at a little after 1 p.m. local time, let’s hammer out a Friday evening mailbag. Some interesting questions that I hope delivered some satisfactory answers.

Here goes:

@drewbrennan77: Looking at ASU, in your opinion, who is their best sports alum: Jake the Snake Plummer, Phil Mickelson or Pat Tilman?

I think it’s Pat Tillman… and then everybody else. (He might be my favorite athlete of all time.) You should probably look at the baseball program for other notable alums, too.


danirish: Look into the crystal ball – Nyles Morgan – great game or goat? Seems like everyone is getting to play on defense – when do we see Jon Bon Jovi’s son play?

I’m excited to see Morgan play. Not sure how he’ll do, but I don’t think he’ll be a goat. He’ll have some struggles, but he’s an athletic, playmaking kid who won’t be swallowed by the moment. And he’s going to make one or two “wow” plays.

As for Bongiovi. Don’t hold your breath. I believe he suffered a knee injury and was lost for the season, though he wasn’t likely to see the field healthy or not.


subalum: If you’re BK how do you attack ASU? Ground and pound with the new found running game trying to keep the defense off of the field? Or go for the big plays like UCLA did and score quickly?

I think controlling the tempo of the game will be key, especially with the Irish needing to protect their defense. I’d do my best to establish a running game, but also try and take some shots down the field. Golson will need to be sharp, but it’ll be interesting if the Sun Devils decide to blitz Golson or force to keep him in the pocket.

Some outside opinions still seem to think the best game plan is forcing Golson to stay in the pocket and beat you with his arm. He can do that without a problem, just ask Michigan. I think putting pressure on him is your best bet and to try and confuse him.

(Could you fault Kelly for trying to take elements of last year’s game plan? Tommy Rees led the Irish in a shootout win.)


padomer: In trying to gauge the talent on this ND team, i was wondering if you could compile an “All-Pro” or “All-Star” team with us and every other team on our schedule as a player pool.

I’m punting this to being an offseason project. Just too tough of a question without having a few hours to dig into it. Try me in February with this.


dudeacow: Are Nelson, Brent, Watkins, and Holmes using a redshirt season, or have they played enough to have used a season of eligibility?

Quenton Nelson is redshirting. Nick Watkins isn’t. I’d guess Brent and Holmes will save a year of eligibility, not seeing the field though traveling for much of the second-half of the season.


atlantairish84: Keith, does a win over a top-10 team move Notre Dame ahead of teams like MSU and TCU that don’t have as good of wins?

Maybe Michigan State, though if they beat Ohio State convincingly, that does quite a bit for them, too. As for TCU, it depends on how you view their schedule. A big win over Oklahoma, a tough loss to Baylor. But this weekend against Kansas State will likely propel one of those Big 12 teams to their highest ranking of the year and send the other one tumbling down boards.

Trying to figure this stuff out will drive you mad. ND just can’t get caught up in watching the weekly rankings. There are just too many tough games left to play.


1notredaefan: I have been under the impression when watching some CFB teams play this year that there has been a form of communication device in the helmet (speaker). Have you heard anything about this? Was Schmidt that vastly superior to listening/looking for hand signals?

There is no communication system in helmets at the college level. But if that was a subtle setup for taking a dig/cracking a joke about Schmidt or his abilities to relay plays, I think you might be oversimplifying things a bit.

Schmidt’s skill isn’t being a wind talker or understanding VanGorder’s code. It’s being able to process every element of the defense and make sure not just that he’s in position, but the other linebackers and the defensive linemen in front of him are, too.


indyirish91: It appears to me that the playoff committee is going to adjust their weekly rankings to affect each week’s match ups. For instance, moving ASU to #9 this week when they’ll face the #10 Irish. Do you agree or disagree? It seems they can manipulate the importance of each matchup down the stretch.

The weekly announcement is a made-for-TV spectacle that I can’t take seriously. I’m not sure what the point is, other than to fuel a week of debate and make Jeff Long look silly.

I’m convinced that at the end of this process, all the factors will be taken into consideration and the committee will get it as close to right as possible. Until then? The yoyo’ing feels more than a little contrived.


idratherbeinsouthbend: ASU gets a number of on field contributions from JUCO transfers. I know Notre Dame doesn’t allow JUCO transfers, but does anybody know WHY? Do they allow JUCO transfers for NON-Football players or Non-athletes? If a JUCO player has the chops to get admitted to Notre Dame, why is it not allowed?

I don’t think the university has a hard-and-firm “No Juco rule” like you’re stating, but I do think that it’s tremendously difficult to transfer in to Notre Dame, especially if you’ve begun your college career at a junior/community college. The core curriculum at a two-year college just doesn’t often fit with where transfer athletes need to be when trying to fit into the process at Notre Dame, and that’s likely the biggest reason Notre Dame doesn’t attract them. (Nor does the football program need to…)

ASU isn’t the only school to get contributions from junior college athletes. Bill Snyder built K-State around finding talent from the JuCo level. Charlie Weis tried to at Kansas and failed miserably.There are risks and rewards to that style of recruiting. So if a rare junior college player has a way to make it work academically at Notre Dame, I’m not sure why he wouldn’t get that shot.


yaketyyacc:Keith, don’t you think the playoffs are happening now? with the matchups this weekend alone, several teams will be eliminated or advanced. do you think pollsters have finally matured by adding the “jump over” to determine who ranks what? Do you think there are too many factors used by the committee to determine rank, thus complicating an already murky method of assessment?

The next few weeks will serve as eliminate games. Alabama loses to LSU? Seeya. K-State and TCU? Only one survives. Same with this game.

For as worried as we all get about being left out, factor in the Egg Bowl, the Iron Bowl, and not to mention the conference championship games, and this will all sort itself out.


4horsemenrideagain: Any idea about whether Pat Eilers is still providing consulting services to the secondary, or what his role has consisted of since he took it on? How much credit for the secondary’s somewhat surprising performance is attributed to Eilers?

Eilers is still working with the team as Kyle McCarthy battles cancer. I think Eilers is likely doing a very good job, but you might be a little ahead of yourself for giving the former ND and NFL player, and current private equity banker now on sabbatical, any of the main credit. From what I’m told, Eilers has been a great guy on the administrative end, working in a support capacity more than coaching technique on the field.

That’s not to take away from anything he’s doing. What a fantastic opportunity for Eilers to return to the school he loves and I’m sure Brian Kelly is grateful to have his experience inside the coaches room.

ylilbnosredna: Keith, % wise, how healthy is Jarron Jones (to your knowledge)?

?% At this time of year, nobody is 100% healthy. But Jones will find a second wind and close this season out strong.


ndcanuck: If the Irish lose Saturday following yet another Navy “hangover” (a costly win that gains nothing with the committee) will ND start to consider moving away from the long time rivalry game?

This game isn’t going anywhere.