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Notre Dame mailbag: QBs, 40 times and more

You’ve got questions. We (hopefully) have answers. Let’s see what’s on everyone’s mind as we enter that (usually) quiet stretch between the end of the Blue-Gold game and fall camp.

Matt Fortuna: Mike and Matt, I think it is too early to say right now, given the fluidity of the position, though I don't expect anything to happen before this season. (Everett Golson had to graduate last spring before he could transfer.) After all, DeShone Kizer was a distant third in line at this time last year and, because of a number of circumstances, he ended up starting 11 games and impressing everyone. That cannot be overlooked. While head coach Brian Kelly said he will eventually choose one guy as his starter, history indicates that, one way or another, multiple quarterbacks will probably play for Notre Dame at some point this season. The talent is just too good for two guys to sit idle on the bench throughout the fall. Down the line, though, there certainly could be some movement elsewhere, but I think the who, why and where of that situation would be dictated by how this upcoming season unfolds.

Fortuna: I'd describe Notre Dame's defensive expectations for this season as cautiously optimistic. Look, there's no replacing the four captains (and at least that many future pros) that the Irish lost from last year's team. Of course, the defense wasn't all that great last season even with all of that talent, though injuries obviously affected the unit's performance to a certain degree. I thought the defense looked solid in the Blue-Gold game, even though it didn't force any turnovers. But remember, the Blue and Gold teams were broken up Saturday, so it's not like the game was all first-teamers vs. first-teamers, second-teamers vs. second-teamers, etc. The staff really likes what it has seen from Nyles Morgan at the Mike this spring, and Morgan himself said he is miles ahead of where he used to be in terms of comfort level. He is an elite talent, but he is taking on a huge role after barely playing last season. Isaac Rochell looks like the leader up front, while Devin Studstill and Shaun Crawford are young guys who are certainly worth keeping an eye on this fall. Kelly came away from the spring impressed with the secondary as a whole. Now, does a third year with coordinator Brian VanGorder equal a more fluent understanding for all in terms of concepts, communication and understanding? The defense's progress - both on-the-field play and off-the-field leadership - is probably the biggest thing to monitor going into the season.

Fortuna: Maureen, Kelly said at the beginning of spring that Torii Hunter Jr. ran a 4.43 40-yard-dash during the program's winter testing. At the NFL scouting combine, Will Fuller ran a 4.32, the best among receivers. (For the record, former Georgia running back Keith Marshall had the best overall, at 4.31.) In any event, Hunter is expected to carry the biggest load this fall amongst the Irish's receivers, especially if Corey Robinson (concussions) ends up not playing. As far as speed, though, Kelly had said that Corey Holmes ran the fastest 40-time, at 4.39. The others, according to Kelly: Miles Boykin ran a 4.7, C.J. Sanders ran a 4.49, Equanimeous St. Brown ran a 4.5 and K.J. Stepherson ran a 4.5.

Fortuna: Nick, so much of this might depend on how often the Irish choose to split Alize Jones wide at the "W" receiver position. If Robinson doesn't play, I'm guessing the 6-foot-4½, 240-pound Jones will be outside much more, as the Irish certainly have some catching up to do in the playmaking department after the losses of Fuller and Chris Brown. Jones received plenty of playing time last year as a true freshman, hauling in 13 catches for 190 yards. Inside, though, the Irish are probably better served with the now-healthy redshirt junior Durham Smythe and the continuously growing Nic Weishar, who played the most of any tight end last season and whom Kelly says can physically handle everything inside and out now as a 6-foot-4, 245-pound redshirt sophomore.