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OFD Mailbag: Feels Just Like the Third Time

We answer reader questions -- this week with 85% less reference to side dishes.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Oh hello friends. Welcome to OFD Mailbag number 3. If these were seasons of television, we're already ahead of Firefly, smack in the middle of the best season of The Wire, and somewhere all existential-y in Mad Men. As always (for the third week in a row), questions are from real readers. Or their legal advisor acting on behalf of the reader vis-a-vis their opinions on varsity football at the University of Notre Dame. Had to put that in after we got sued by the coleslaw lobby last week -- they give their lawyers some serious cabbage. Without further ado, let's get into this week's edition:

Flattery Gone Wrong (Will Still Probably Get You in the Mailbag)

If I have learned anything from reading the first 2 editions of OFD Mailbag, it is that the best way to ensure one's submission be included is to compliment, or "butter up" the author. So, pburns, I have been meaning to tell you this for the longest time, but you have the most beautiful, luscious hair I have never seen.

Anyway, knowing how deep the receiver position is for this year, I realize this may not be very likely. But two fellas I don't hear much about, Justin Brent and Corey Holmes-where do they fit in? Are they the first players in after the trio of Fuller, Robinson, and Brown? If I recall, Holmes redshirted and Brent played special teams exclusively. They both appear to have a heck of a lot of star power, and I feel like the coaching staff would like to get them on the field at some point (heaven forbid we actually blow a lesser team out). Also, which do you think will be the larger contributor if they can get a decent amount of PT?

I feel like until Brown (and maybe Fuller) leaves after the season, the two of them will be stuck putting in just a few snaps per game. I'm very excited about their potential, though!

Thanks, and don't forget to keep those luscious locks gleaming like the golden dome!

-Andrew V.

I present to you the worst-researched butter-up attempt in the (admittedly short) history of the mailbag. I have a twitter account (it's even in my signature in the comments). I send messages to the general public from time to time and am easily searchable. HERE is my profile. I'll give everyone a moment to look at the profile image, which is a picture of me.

Was that so hard to do? I award you no points, Andrew.

I'll still answer the question though, because I'm a charter member of the Justin Brent bandwagon. His HS film was very strong in the red zone, and I think he may actually take some snaps away from Chris Brown there. I have absolutely nothing to base this off of other than gut feeling (like you said, both he and Holmes barely played last season), but I think that he's got what it takes to make a dent on the field this season.

I don't foresee a ton of playing time for either of them because receiver is so deep, but I am looking for something similar to what Torii Hunter, Jr. put up last season. Flashes of someone that can do it on the college stage, who will be ready to step in when the upperclassmen leave.

Let's All Be Sad for a Minute

Let's go back to 2005 when #1 USC rolls into town. Obviously everyone knows what happened this game. Let's go back to the 4th and 9 play. If Ambrose Wooden raises his hand another 6 inches or so he bats the pass to Dwayne Jarrett down and the game is over. We win. We then would have went on to play Texas for the National Championship that year. How would of this changed Notre Dame football for the next 10 years up until now? The implications and tidal wave of different things seem endless.

-NoTraDame, via the Mailbag Comments

Ugh this game. There's so many things not to like about it -- Chuck Weis starting the process that would result in ND's complete and total crater job, somehow sticking with the "moral victory" angle for multiple weeks, general hatred of Pete Carroll, etc., but NoTraDame cuts straight to the worst moment.

I have watched the play several hundred times over my life, and can only assume that the football entered an extra dimension for a split second in some sort of Schrodinger's football moment. That is the only reason it didn't get batted down. If I was playing NCAA football I would have assumed it was a glitch and hit reset.

But... IF we had won the game AND made it to the championship vs Texas (not a given, but I'll go with it here), I think we would have gotten smoked just as we did against Ohio State. Vince Young was a man possessed that season, and I think a Charlie Weis gameplan wasn't as good after a long break as it was in-season. I think ND still would have been a ridiculously highly ranked team in 2006 (as they were anyway), but the culture Weis had built around the team was eating away at it from the inside. I think we get to where we were in 2009 any way you slice it with him at the helm.

There is a part of me that thinks if he had won the national championship that year, he would have jumped immediately to the NFL, and in a scramble to find a head coach after just one season, we took a chance on the upstart Brian Kelly from Central Michigan. That's a parallel timeline that would be fun to explore.

Weekly Jaylon Smith Mailbag Section

Losing sucks. Injuries suck. Having to lean on a guy who's only a sophomore to anchor your defense as bodies fall around him sucks.

Does, however, the experience of having to see and carry the entire defense last year give us reasonable reason to believe he unleashes the beast this year and puts up a dominant performance? As noted, he has good talent in front of him and should have some more capable running mates beside him. Does last year's misfortune have a silver lining in accelerating his development?

-JoeSchu, via the Mailbag Comments

Last week, we discussed the Jaylon Smith Conundrum (TM) -- never doing enough while at the same time being the best player on the field. What JoeSchu brings up is the Manti Te'o Corollary -- throw an extremely talented player into the fire when he doesn't have much around him, make him learn everything at lightning speed, be responsible for far more than he should, and in general, get as many meaningful reps as he can take. Then the player blossoms his junior and senior seasons to a high level when he gets some extra talent around him and can let it loose.

What I think remains to be seen is the supporting cast that Jaylon will have on defense -- if it's good enough to allow him to play freely, I fully expect a monster season from Jaylon. If he's tasked with covering for weak spots every week, then his impact will only truly be felt behind closed doors. I expect something a little inbetween those two scenarios, and ideally improving as the season goes on. If the defense can avoid the injury bug, I think end-of-season Jaylon is going to be a scary, scary man.



Remember to submit your questions to the OFD Mailbag by email (, twitter (@OFDMailbag), or leaving a comment in the section below. Go Irish!