Chat Transcript: Is Freeman for real? Deciphering the Notre Dame depth chart movement

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

Eric Hansen: Welcome to Notre Dame Football Live Chat, Almost Done with Spring Football Edition. Please, please remember to include your name and hometown with your question. Hint: "Guest" is not your name. Let's get right into it.

Bill Kaufman from Windsor, Colo.: As always, Eric thanks for the great chats. Your chats really help me stay connected to my favorite football team. My question (or request): As a fan, who never played football, it is sometimes difficult to understand what is meant by a name for a certain position, especially on defense, like vyper. Could you do an article that defines the different positions on both defense and offense. Thank you.

Eric Hansen: Bill, I try not to get too nuanced when I write, so I don't lose people like you. And I'm happy to have people like you reading. The are more reasons that an article wouldn't work than there are reasons it would. However, I am happy to answers those kinds of questions in the chat. Also, that way if there's a follow-up (and you're following along during the live portion), you can submit that. Right now a lot of the positions on defense are being redefined.

Let's address the Vyper end. Notre Dame plays two defensive ends. The "big" end is where Justin Ademilola and Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa play. This end is usually very good against the run, isn't quite as quick and twitchy as the Vyper. If they're a good pass rusher, as Khalid Kareem was when he played it, that's a nice bonus. The Vyper (Isaiah Foskey, Jordan Botelho) is usually your best pass rusher. At times he'll stand at the line of scrimmage instead of getting in a 3-point stance. He's also asked to drop into coverage on occasion. I hope that is a good start for you.

Marie from Atlanta: Hi Eric. I hope you are having a great week. What is the most important thing that needs to happen on offense, defense and special teams for the 2021 team to make the College Football Playoff? If you could magically make one change to the team/program that would most help it close the gap with the true elites of the college game right now, what would it be? Thanks for keeping us all updated on spring football. Your hard work is greatly appreciated!

Eric Hansen: Hi Marie. I hope you are having a great week, too. I think the good news in your question is that we've seen broad progress in all of those areas. On offense, the most important development that needs to happen is QB Jack Coan playing at a championship level. What that means is a pass-efficiency ranking in the top 15, preferably top 10. He was 19th in 2019, but with an offense in which the passing game was a complement to RB Jonathan Taylor. This 2021 Irish offense will be much more balanced.

Defensively, the No. 1 priority is developing cornerbacks you can trust. In abundance. The way Marcus Freeman's scheme is structured, it puts pressure on the corners. The better they are, the more creative and daring you can be with your front seven. Special teams? Get Jonathan Doerer kicking like he did in 2019. Magically change one thing? Notre Dame to be able to recruit and develop elite receivers on a consistent basis.

John Buckley from San Diego: Two quickies; First Alex Ehrensberger tweeted "making plans for next move, have something to prove."  Not exact quote but close. Do you have any insight into what he was referring to, and I haven't heard anything on how he is progressing. He looks like a future beast on the D-line. Any word on him? Second, being from San Diego, I haven't heard a ton about Tyler Buchner and his progress at QB other than he is progressing. Any little tidbits of info? Thanks for these chats. LOVE them.

Eric Hansen: Hi John, and thank you. I did see the tweet, and didn't read anything into it other than the determination to get better on Alexander's part. Everyone knew Alexander would be a project but one that was worth taking. I've been wanting to ask about him and NaNa Osafo-Mensah for a while. With limited questions, I haven't gotten to it yet. ... Tyler Buchner is improving in leaps and bounds — with getting the rust off, with developing chemistry with the receivers, with his knowledge of the playbook and with his reads. If he had played last fall, I think his curriculum and expectations would be different this spring. Without it, he's doing exactly what he should be doing, and that's learning and acclimating.

Jake from Saratoga Springs, N.Y.: Hello Eric. My question is due to the depth and talent on the defensive line combined with probably the best safety in the country, if the linebackers play well, do you think this could be the best total defensive unit during the Brian Kelly Era, which could make it the best defense in the country. Just curious on your thoughts. Thanks.

Eric Hansen: Jake, there are a lot of players making the kind of progress that will get fans excited about the unit's potential. But the cornerback position group has a long way to go to be elite. There are depth concerns at safety. And the Irish are still looking for more consistency at the weakside linebacker (which used to be the Buck). Guys like Isaiah Foskey and Jordan Botelho, who have flashed at end, need to keep coming with the consistency. There's nothing that isn't fixable, but this unit is far from a finished product. Love where this is headed ... eventually.

Alan from Whiteland, Ind.: Eric, Isaiah Foskey appears to be a player that can record double-digit sacks this season. Is it just a matter of receiving more playing time for Foskey to reach his potential or is he simply a more effective player when he shares time with Jordan Botelho? Thank you for answering my question.

Eric Hansen: Alan, Notre Dame's defensive line culture is being able to play a lot of players and using that depth to its advantage during games ... to keep players fresh and wear down opposing offenses. So Foskey and Botelho are better in tandem, though there may be times (third and long) where you may see them actually on the field at the same time.

Tom from Kennesaw, Ga.: Hi Eric, hope everyone is well, and thanks for all the extra work you put in keeping all ND fans up to speed. Hard for me to tell from the limited videos if any group or individual is really making progress this spring. Can't really tell when they are going against each other. Do you have any info from the coaches that would help us know the real truth? Sometimes I feel Brian Kelly is praising a lot of players just to boost their confidence and get them to play with more consistency. What is your take on where the Irish are today? Also, do you have any freshmen who did not enroll early that you hear may have a chance to contribute, even if it is only special teams? Thanks and stay safe. Go Irish!!!!!

Eric Hansen: Hi Tom. Thanks for the compliments. ... I think getting a chance to talk to the assistant coaches is helpful in sort of cross-examining (if you will) what we're hearing from Brian Kelly. I don't think, though, that he's overinflating the performances. I think he's pretty happy with the way things are going this spring. My take is there has been significant progress, with significant work ahead. And that's a good place to be in late April. Of the June-arriving freshmen, Brian Polian already has said he has his eye on big RB Audric Estime for special teams. I'd add CBs JoJo Johnson and Chance Tucker, S Khari Gee, LB Prince Kollie and maybe WR Deion Colzie.

Patrick from Fort Wayne, Ind.: Eric, ND has a very talented and deep set of linebackers. Where and how do you see Shayne Simon fitting into Marcus Freeman's defense? Also, JD Bertrand was getting mentions in training camp last year. I haven't heard much since. Where do you think he fits on the depth chart at this time?

Eric Hansen: Patrick, Shayne is cross training at the two inside LB positions. I think he'll settle at the Will (weakside), and rotate with Marist Liufau. Brian Kelly mentioned Bertrand the other day when I asked about the linebackers. He's been getting more work with Drew White sidelined. Again, he's training for the inside linebacker positions. Marcus Freeman's desire is to play a lot of people at the linebacker positions, so JD might get his chance.

Andrew from Plymouth, Ind.: How did Tommy Kraemer go from a projected first-round pick a couple years ago to now being projected as not being drafted?

Eric Hansen: In fairness to Tommy Kraemer, this is a flaw in media/analysts rating offensive linemen and not with Tommy himself. There aren't really stats to help people determine who the offensive linemen should be on preseason All-America teams. Some people, like me, will ask coaches and pro scouts who's good and do their research. Some people don't want to put in the work. They'll look back at who was highly rated coming out of high school, and Kraemer was a top 50 player overall. So they extrapolate that to him being an All-American as a junior. Because of copy-catting, it just kind of snowballed. He showed up as a potential first-round draft choice and a midseason and postseason All-American, even though his play did not correlate to those honors. But those in the know knew that was not reality.

Joey G from Philadelphia: Hi Eric. So sorry about the passing of Lou Somogyi. What a great guy! I heard the comments from coach Brian Kelly about Jordan Johnson. It seems like he’s in Kelly’s doghouse. There are a lot of bodies ahead of him. Do you think he’ll stick it out? Or is it time for him to hit the transfer portal?

Eric Hansen: Joey, thank you. Lou will be missed, big time. ... I'm not sure I interpreted doghouse for Jordan's status. I think his biggest asset is his friendship with Kyren Williams, who will challenge Jordan to bring out his best ... and not coddle him because he was a high school five-star. I'm not sure why Jordan would look to the portal when his future at ND is really in his hands.

Ryan from Mars, Pa.: Good afternoon, Eric. How has Kurt Hinish looked so far in spring practice? Go Irish.

Eric Hansen: Like he always does, Ryan. Steady, dependable, better than expectations ... now that's from the coaches. I'll get my eye test on all these guys a week from Saturday, and so will you.

Ken from Pensacola, Fla.: Eric, who is or was the greatest surprise during the spring workouts, and do you expect any position changes in the fall? Thanks - Go Irish!

Eric Hansen: Ken, the two freshman offensive linemen having a realistic chance to start (Rocco Spindler and Blake Fisher) — that's the surprise, although I expected Rocco, especially, to compete to get into the two-deeps. Lawrence Keys has surprised me at wide receiver. Drew Pyne at QB. ... I would think if there were going to be a position switch of major proportions, they'd do it in the spring, not in fall camp.

Jeff from Phoenix: Hey Eric. I have a comment and a question on your ND coverage. First, I really enjoyed the story on Jordan Botelho as I was unaware of his struggles last year. Sounds like he is focused and going to have a big impact in 2021. My question is regarding the loss of the recruiting "Offer Reports" in the Irish Stew section of the SBT. I realize you lost Carter Karels at SBT and are short-handed, but any chance you could bring back the recruiting offer reports with maybe a weekly summary? Cheers.

Eric Hansen: Jeff, thanks. We are compiling them behind the scenes, and perhaps it's possible to maybe do it online on a weekly basis, but it's hard to prioritize that. The reason being they didn't get much traction as far as page views, so we've had to prioritize other things. For example, the Inside Recruiting feature literally will get at least 1,000 times more page views than the offer reports. I do appreciate you bringing it up, and it's something we'll discuss.

Lorne (Canadian like Lorne Greene and Lorne Michaels) from Reno, Nev.: You said a couple weeks ago that ND was committed to top programs in all sports. Do you think (if baseball success continues) that Jack Swarbrick will be willing to spend what is necessary on salary and facilities to keep Link Jarrett around or will we see a replay of the Pat Murphy/Paul Mainieri scenario again, with a "name" program hiring him away? Thanks for the chats, and I hope you don't mind a baseball question.

Eric Hansen: Lorne, I don't remember Pat Murphy's circumstances, but I vividly remember Paul's. And he didn't leave because of money or lack of facilities. He left, because LSU was home and he felt he could win a national title there, which he did, in 2009. The pandemic has made it difficult for all ADs to be free-wheeling with finances, particularly in non-revenue sports, but I think Jack would be willing to invest in Jarrett, who appears to be elite.

Pat from Orlando: What kind of chance do the Irish have in recruiting at big names like Gavin Sawchuk, Tetairoa McMillan, and Khamauri Rogers?

Eric Hansen: Notre Dame is not the favorite for any of them. However, at least Sawchuk and Rogers have scheduled official visits for June, and those visits sometimes can change the trajectory of a kid's recruitment. Of those three, I'd say Rogers has the best chance of ending up at ND.

Dan from Granger: Care to share any thoughts on the tragic and unexpected death of your colleague writer/reporter from BGI, Lou Somogyi? Our paths crossed a few times around town. He came across as a heck of a nice and humble guy to me.

Eric Hansen: For those who don't know, longtime Blue & Gold Illustrated writer Lou Somogyi died at age 58 of a heart attack this past weekend. I was physically ill when I saw the news. Literally, it was like having a bad stomach flu. Finally, I pushed myself to get to the gym and take a long walk Sunday afternoon, and that helped give me some perspective and relief. I always admired Lou's encyclopedia-esque knowledge of Notre Dame football, but more so I admired his kindness and integrity. And one day when I finally grow up, I'd like to exude those qualities in the proportions Lou did. We all process death in our own way. How I plan to do so is this: Lou is looking down smiling on us. Let's use that as inspiration to make him proud.

KP from South Bend: Two questions: How many scholarships does ND plan to offer for 2022? And will Chris Tyree be used in the slot?

Eric Hansen: KP, not sure about the first one. Maybe around 22? The second, I could see Kyren Williams or Tyree shift into the slot at times when originally lined up in a two-back set.

Pat from Mississauga, Ontario: Hi Eric: First, I wanted to send my condolences to you and the South Bend community about the passing of Lou Somogyi. Enjoyed reading and listening to everything about ND.

Eric Hansen: Thank you.

Erik from Granger: Thanks for being here! Does Marcus Freeman have experience playing Navy? Past defensive coordinators have struggled in their first time through against that offense.

Eric Hansen: Erik, thank you. Navy and Cincinnati play in the same conference (AAC) but not in the same division, so they don't play every year. They did play twice, however, during Marcus' four seasons as DC at Cincy. In 2017, when the Bearcats went 4-8 and got scored on by everybody, Navy won 42-32. The next season, Cincy went 11-2, and smothered Navy, 42-0. The Mids amassed just 171 yards in total offense, 124 of those on the ground.

Mark from Orange County, Calif.: Hi Eric. Just wanted to thank you for hosting these chats. My questions have already been asked by others. Sorry for your loss of your friend and colleague. Thoughts and prayers sent.

Eric Hansen: Thank you, Mark.

RK from Sartell, Minn.: Eric, great show as always. Do you feel that the recruiting momentum at ND is building to the point that we will have a top 5 class soon? I sense this, but maybe it is just the espresso shot in my coffee!

Eric Hansen: Rick, thank you. Notre Dame has certainly positioned itself well. The amount of top-of-the-board talent coming for official visits in June is truly stunning. Now, getting visits, and closing the process and landing the prospects are two different things. But having those official visits can not be overstated. That's huge.

Gabriel from North Liberty: Hello, hope you are staying healthy and warm. Brian Kelly made a statement about giving reps to early enrollees, even if they do not deserve it. How crucial is it and how much do early enrollees benefit from the extra time? How much of an impact does it have on potential playing time?

Eric Hansen: Gabriel, plenty warm here, thanks. The furnace works. Every early enrollee I've ever talked to is happy they did it, even if it didn't ultimately lead to great things down the road. They seem universal in the fact it gave them a better chance, that they were better positioned to climb the depth chart. ... You're able to acclimate to school when you're not in your playing season. Having 15 extra practices is incredibly valuable, even if it doesn't show up until year 2 or 3. That doesn't mean June arrivals can't be productive as freshmen, but it's a more difficult path.

Jon from Orlando: Hi Eric. There is a lot of hype around Marcus Freeman. I love it, but do you think he’s the real deal. Bravado has come and gone. Just remember Charlie Weis’ pressers. What do you think?

Eric Hansen: I think I might need a couple of beers to answer your question. I do think that Marcus is the real deal. And if you remember, when you all asked me who the next DC should be, I gave you two names — Mike Elston if you were going internally and Marcus Freeman if you were going outside. Not sure I understand the bravado comment and Charlie Weis. You'll have to help me out there.

Lawrence from San Diego: Can you dig in a little more to what happened with TaRiq Bracy last year? A couple blown coverages and they just benched him for the season? Was he mentally out of it? Did he collapse or did Clarence Lewis ascend? Can he come back and regain his trajectory?

Eric Hansen: Lawrence. Tyler James wrote about Bracy last night in his notebook. What happened last season, I think, was a combination of what you laid out ... Lewis continually developing and being able to handle big moments, and Bracy regressing. The good news is Marcus Freeman said he'd give Bracy (and everyone else) a clean slate. And so far Bracy has practiced well and positioned himself to be the No. 1 option at nickel.

Stan from Rockford Ill.: Eric, again, best wishes to you and your loved ones. Thanks for your insights during these chats. Two questions, a comment, and a prediction. I read (and saw the three-minute clip) from a recent practice, and there were a lot of low and inaccurate snaps from centers. 1) What do you think about Jarrett Patterson back at center, his proven position, and moving Zeke Correll to his high school position of guard, leaving Josh Lugg at his preferred right tackle and having the two frosh sensations on the O-line, Blake Fisher and Rocco Spindler, manning the left side? And with Tosh Baker, Quinn Carroll, Andrew Kristofic, John Dirksen and Michael Carmody, that’s a lot of quality O-line depth. Time for coach Jeff Quinn to prove he’s a developer of talent now that he’s established himself as an elite recruiter. 2) Would you say this was the deepest offensive line Kelly has ever had, despite their inexperience?

Eric Hansen: Stan, thanks. Let's assume the two freshmen are able to hold down those two spots on the left side, then you're trying to figure out the best configuration of Lugg/Patterson/Correll. Lugg's best position is tackle. Correll's best position by far is center. Patterson would excel wherever you put him, so him at guard makes sense. I would not rule out a different alignment once the Irish get Patterson back in August. 2) I think it's as good as group of 2s as Kelly's had and there's a lot of position flexibility, which adds to the depth. ... You might be seeing the gong show of backup center auditions when you see the low snaps.

Charles from South Bend: Hi Eric. When (if ever) are you returning to WSBT radio's WeekNight SportsBeat? It's not NEARLY the same without you, and I have essentially resolved to boycott the show until they bring you back!! Be well.

Eric Hansen: Charles, thanks for your concern about the radio show. I hear from Darin Pritchett all the time, and he's awesome. But radio is a funny business and it's going through difficult economic times. So I wouldn't anticipate me returning to that particular station. I am appreciative for the time I did have there, especially getting to work with someone as fun and talented as Darin. If you haven't tried our Pod of Gold podcasts, with Tyler James and me, please do and let me know what you think.

IrishMike from Altoona, Pa.: While I love the hiring of Marcus Freeman, I must admit I'm a little concerned. The last time we hired a defensive coordinator that was going to allow the players to "react" and "play with speed" and "have fun," we replaced Bob Diaco and his "bend but don't break" defense with Brian VanGorder. We know how that turned out! Do you have similar concerns?

Eric Hansen: Mike ... Wait, when was Brian VanGorder's defense ever portrayed as "fun?" In what parallel universe did that happen? Even if it were the case, why would that get you antsy? If you had a bad hamburger at one restaurant, does that mean you should never eat burgers every again at someplace else? Marcus Freeman has a really good track record in college over the past three years. As good as you'll find anywhere. BVG did not have that. Nor could he recruit — even a lick.

Jack from Strongsville, Ohio: Hi Eric. Not a football question. Do you think with the impact that COVID-19 has made on the revenue of all college programs that there will be a move to regionalize competition on a greater level. For example, does it make sense for Notre Dame's women's soccer team to travel to Duke and North Carolina for competition when Purdue and IU are much closer. Football will always be viable, but how long can it support all the non-revenue sports. Thanks, as always, for your great work!

Eric Hansen: Jack, thanks. I had that conversation with athletic director Jack Swarbrick at the very beginning of the pandemic. I think you'll see more creative solutions to scheduling to save money in the non-revenue sports. It may not look exactly as you have it laid out, but certainly for non-conference games/matches it would make more sense if they were regional rather than cross country.

Tim from Pleasant Prairie, Wis.: Hi Eric. I saw that ND has canceled the George Strait concert on Aug. 7 for safety reasons. Do you think we can infer from that that they will make a similar decision on football games? Not cancel, but once again allow minimal attendance? Hard for me to see why they would treat one event different from another in terms of student/spectator safety. Also hard for me to understand the decision to cancel the concert all together, considering the fact that 90% of the student body is already vaccinated. Thoughts? This one has me stumped.

Eric Hansen: I wouldn't tie the George Strait decision into the football decision. George only has one date on his calendar, and its a rescheduled concent on Nov. 13. There's a growing number of colleges that are planning for full football stadiums in the fall. ND is not yet one of them. I expect that decision to come in May, when there will be much more concrete data from which to make a decision. The are a lot of logistics questions to tackle, and remember there will be a lot more than just students in the stadium. Stay tuned. The answers aren't that far away.

Matt from Augusta, N.J.: Hello Eric. I read the comments Coach Kelly made about opening up the offense this year and needing to score more points. I completely agree. He mentioned leaning on a veteran offensive line and strong tight ends last year as his reasoning for being a grind-and-running offense primarily. I think a veteran O-line would help in a spread also. Did we have the wrong philosophy last year or just not enough athletes on the outside to warrant taking the tight ends off the field? Also will we have the athletes on the outside this year to score more points? Kelly’s offenses at Cincinnati were scored lots of points. Why haven’t we realized earlier we need to outscore opponents in today’s game.

Eric Hansen: Matt, there's a lot to unpack in your questions. I'll try to simplify. Kelly felt his best chance to GET to the playoff in 2020 was ball control, complementary football. It worked. The playoff itself, meanwhile, was a referendum on whether that style could win you games at the level. The answer was clear. It was not. This year's team has the raw material to play more to the playoff model than last year's team did. The key is to maximizing that talent, specifically at the QB and wide receiver positions. Kelly's offenses at Cincy (especially 2009) did score a lot of points, but the Bearcats gave them up too. And they got crushed by Florida on the big stage in their bowl game (51-24).

Until the past few years, teams could win national titles with merely good offenses and elite defenses. Now you need both.

Jim Tal from Valley Center, Calif.: Good day, Eric. Just wanted to run something by you real quick. Disregarding the possibility of injury, and based on what you know as well as your gut feeling, do you think Drew Pyne will ever start a game at Notre Dame? I don't know why, but I get a sense he might be another Ian Book in that he might end up getting a lot more playing time than anyone could have possibly imagined. Thanks much, and great work as always.

Eric Hansen: Jim, thanks. What Drew has shown in 11 spring practices is the potential to master the mental side of the game and ND's playbooks and processes. That's not insignificant by any stretch, and that gives him the chance to be a future starter. What will be his challenge once Jack Coan moves on is if Tyler Buchner, Brendon Clark and Steve Angeli are able to do the same (getting down the mental side). They all have size and athletic ability (and arm strength) that is superior to Drew's, so that would make it difficult to be the No. 1 guy beyond an injury situation this season.

Travis from Newport, Ky.: Eric, being form the Cincinnati area, I am a huge Bengals fan, second to only Notre Dame. College football trumps NFL. I saw a mock draft where Cincy took a wide receiver first and was able to pick up Liam Eichenberg early second round and later drafted Aaron Banks. With such a heavy need at the O-line in multiple spots and Notre Dame's recent success with NFL O-linemen, could you see my Bengals grabbing two ND linemen for some plug-and-play guys?

Eric Hansen: Travis, I don't know what the Bengals' needs are. I don't follow them close enough to know that. However, I could see both Liam and Aaron contributing right away if Cincinnati were to select them.

Adam from Dayton, Ohio: Eric, thank you for all you do. Love your work! 1.) Lawrence Keys appears to be showing out. Will ND be able to find him room on the field alongside Avery Davis, or will they have to take a playmaker off the field to put one on? 2.) Defense appears to be playing very fast and free ... just like Marcus Freeman wants (From the takes I have heard, I obviously have only seen snippets haha). Are they just beating up on a green offensive line, or are we seeing the real deal? How much has the O-line shown improvement from the first practice, and how far do they have to go to be good? 3.) Defensive recruiting seems to be energized. Who is an offensive recruit (not O-lineman) that Tommy Rees could land that would show recruiting is rising on that side of the ball as well? Thank you so much!

Eric Hansen: Adam, thanks. 1) If Keys is progressing as convincingly as Brian Kelly purports him to be, he'd certainly be a rotation guy at the very least. 2) We're seeing signs of the real deal in the front seven. The summer and August camp will be critical for the secondary. 3) I'll say either CJ Williams or Tobias Merriweather. Both are elite WRs. Both are scheduled to visit in June.

Jay from Columbus, Ohio: Eric, snow in late April never gets old. Offense a concern for you or not? New QB, wideouts and O-line ...

Eric Hansen: I like what they've accomplished so far this spring. I need to see more of that in August.

Denis from Niagara Falls, Ontario: Hi Eric. I imagine there were at least several aspects of the team that you were unsure of heading into spring. Is there something that you are more certain of at this point? And do have a Lou Somogyi story that you would share or did you not know him well enough? Thanks a lot.

Eric Hansen: Hi Denis, thank you. I feel better about the O-line and where it's headed. Want to see the WRs in person and Kevin Austin healthy before I jump on that. I figured the D-line would be good, and it's exceeded my expectations. For now, with Lou, the best way I can express his essence is every story I could tell ends up with him being a class act.

Mike McFadden from Williamsport, Pa.: Hi Eric, a quick/fun question here today. As your job calls for both close personal and business relationships with the coaching staff and players, as they read and keep up with your awesome chats, have any of them ever contacted you to comment or elaborate or critique one of your answers? I can just picture a 325-pound OL/DL player calling and saying, "Hey Eric, I'm not going in the third round of the draft. Put me down for early second round buddy." :) Always a good time on Wednesday afternoons. I learn a lot from you. Thanks.

Eric Hansen: Mike, thanks. Very seldom, and usually not a player responds. Maybe someone in the athletic office or a relative or friend of a player who's able to shed some additional context. I wish I had a funnier answer. But people tend to be really helpful in those situations, not critical.

Martin from Orlando: I would like your thoughts on special teams?

Eric Hansen: There's an opportunity to be more dynamic in the return game, and the Irish need Jonathan Doerer to be his 2019 self.

Joe from Asbury Park. N.J.: I know we're solid at tight end with Michael Mayer, but any idea about the battle for the No. 2 spot?

Eric Hansen: That's on my to-do list to ask Saturday. My expectation is that George Takacs would be the guy, but I'm not ruling out Kevin Bauman.

Mark from Burlington, Vt.: Eric, what's happening with the young receivers? Namely, Jordan Johnson? As a sophomore, it would be great to see him breaking through. Could Lorenzo Styles see any time (I know academics is an adjustment for these young men)?

Eric Hansen: Brian Kelly hasn't mentioned Lorenzo. We have Tommy Rees on Zoon on Thursday, so that's a priority to ask about all the young receivers. There is a long road to go in determining the rotation. Don't rule anything out yet.

Mike McFadden from Williamsport, Pa.: Are you going to try out and audition for the open gameday announcer's position? You'd be great, seriously! Thanks for answering my question.

Eric Hansen: Haha. Me doing that would be like the speaking version of karaoke. I appreciate the support, but they'd need to sell beer throughout the stadium for my schtick to go over well.

Michael from Costa Mesa, Calif.: Eric, thank you for insight. Don't you think that Brian Kelly should have replaced Chris Watt, who I believe gave last year's line more physicality. Is it not a fact that Jeff Quinn is more of a technical teacher?

Eric Hansen: Notre Dame has not yet hired officially a grad assistant for offense. It could be someone to help on the O-line. That would make a lot of sense.

Ryan near San Francisco: Looks like Brendon Clark is getting buried on the QB depth chart due to his knee. Even if he rehabs, his chances seem slim to naught. How do you feel about him potentially converting to a wide receiver/running back hybrid? The kid has some great size and ground skills.

Eric Hansen: If Brendon were good enough to be the No. 2 option last year until his knee gave out, he's good enough to fight for a chance to move up on the depth chart or play QB somewhere else. I can't see him making an impact at WR or RB or as a hybrid, to be honest.

Mario from Stafford, Va.: Eric, I hope you and your family are well. Just a quick question: I know the Irish have used various uniform combinations for the Shamrock Series. I don't know if they will be bringing that back this year if fans are allowed in the stadium. Do you think they will ever use the early '80s Madonna blue jerseys again? They used the shamrock uniform for under the lights at Michigan 2012-2013? Anyhow, using those uniforms for making all of the jerseys available for purchase from the past Shamrock Series might be a good way to recoup some of the lost revenue from last year. Thank you, sir.

Eric Hansen: Mario, if you come to these chats long enough, you'll find out you're asking the wrong guy if you bring up uniform questions. Any uniform questions. I can barely dress myself, let alone suggest what someone else should be wearing. Having said that, the Wisconsin game in Chicago is a Shamrock Series game, even though it's not technically ND's home game. So that would be an opportunity to do something different with the unis.

Jon from Orlando: Guessing today, who will be our best quarterback next year? Not necessarily starting but best.

Eric Hansen: I still think Tyler Buchner is the most talented QB on the roster with the highest potential.

Travis from Newport, Ky.: Have you heard any frontrunners for the next "voice of Notre Dame?" Where's your submission video?

Eric Hansen: I hope it's Mike Golic Jr.

Erik from Granger: Why do different coaches have different names for the same position (e.g. Buck vs Will)? Seems arbitrary.

Eric Hansen: It is arbitrary.

Alan from Whiteland, Ind.: Eric, with NBC having its over-the-air network, their NBC Sports Network and now their streaming service Peacock, do you anticipate NBC creating even more programming featuring Notre Dame athletics as a whole and Notre Dame football in particular? Since NBC broadcasts no other college football other than Notre Dame home games, I would assume both parties would be very willing to create more content and strengthen their partnership, especially with Peacock now available. What say you? As always, thank you for answering my question.

Eric Hansen: I think the plan if for ND to develop content for its own app — Fighting Irish TV.

Eric Hansen: OK, that's going to do it for today. Thanks for all the great questions. We'll be back to do it all over again next Wednesday at noon EDT.

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