Enjoy the weekend!
Tim Griffin from Sioux City, Iowa, writes: With Tommy in as QB. Will the Irish be undefeated in the regular season this year and the defense that much better than last year?
Matt Fortuna: Tim, undefeated is asking a lot, even if Everett Golson had been under center going into 2013. It's just really, really difficult to get through one campaign unscathed, let alone two, especially with that schedule. Even Alabama lost a game in each of its past two national title seasons. I think Notre Dame's defense is deeper and has the chance to be better than last year's unit, which was much better than the 2011 unit, which was in position to win 10 or 11 games with Tommy Rees under center if not for all of the turnovers. So, if you look it at in a simple way -- better decision-making from Rees than two years ago, better defensive production -- there is certainly a chance for the Irish to win 10 games and make a BCS bowl game. Of course, it's a lot more complicated than that, especially with no Tyler Eifert or Michael Floyd on offense and a tough schedule once again.
Luke from Columbus, Ohio writes: This year's team is not expected to do anything special. However, neither was last year's Irish squad. What is the ceiling this year?
Matt Fortuna: Luke, I (and most others) know better than to put a ceiling on a team after the way last season turned out. If you're looking for silver linings from this offseason, it's that things could be a whole lot worse when you lose your starting quarterback after the spring. Instead, the Irish have a guy with 18 starts who knows the offense inside and out. The offseason of 2012 was also far from kind to the Irish, be it recruiting defections, the Rees arrest, the Cierre Wood suspension, the Aaron Lynch transfer, the questions surrounding Louis Nix, and so forth. As I said to Tim above, there is certainly a chance to have a very strong season, though I'd be shocked if the Irish ran the regular season table again.
Kevin Quinn from California writes: Which 2013 recruit do you think can make the biggest impact on the team for this upcoming season?
Matt Fortuna: Kevin, I'll go with Greg Bryant. There is a lot of depth in that backfield, but most of it is unproven. While I can see the carries being thrown around all over the place this season, I think Bryant is the type of running back recruit Notre Dame has not seen in a long time, and the opportunity will be there for him to contribute during his first year. I expect Corey Robinson and James Onwualu to get plenty of opportunities this season as well.