Tuesday Tweetbag: Notre Dame under Kelly, Fresno St. in 2012 and surprises on the recruiting trail

By Bryan Fischer | Blogger

It's back! With a hectic spring/summer travel schedule, the Tuesday Tweetbag had to take a bit of a break. As things have slowed coming out of The Opening and ahead of conference media days, now is as good a time as ever to start back up on a regular, weekly basis. This edition touches on everything to Notre Dame's tough schedule to surprise recruiting classes and plenty in between. If you have a question, be sure to tweet @BryanDFischer every Tuesday.

Is Everett Golson the answer at quarterback? Brian Kelly might find out if he wants to avoid going 6-6 in 2012.

The Irish have been doing pretty well on the recruiting trail for sure, currently sitting with the No. 7 class in the country having just picked up linebacker Alex Anzalone this week. Is the seat hot for Kelly? I don't think it is, but it's not cold either. Given the win-loss record of Charlie Weis, and the amount of money the school is still paying him, I think Kelly would be safe even if he goes 6-6. Below that? Iffy but I still think he stays. My colleague Bruce Feldman has been on the Everett Golson bandwagon since last season ended, and I think with either him or Andrew Hendrix behind center, Notre Dame can do okay against a very tough schedule. That said, I worry mostly about the defense, which hasn't been consistently good (they were very solid last year) in some time and will make or break the team this year.

If you're an Irish fan, you take one look at the schedule and think even the close games are unlikely to result in a win. You never know how your team will respond to a trip overseas for the opener (against Navy) and then having to come back and play a week later -- even if it is Purdue. Michigan State is no slouch, especially defensively, Miami has enough athletes to cause trouble and Stanford may have lost Andrew Luck, but they're still going to be a ranked team rolling into South Bend. That's to say nothing of top-15 teams like Michigan, Oklahoma and USC (the latter two on the road) on the schedule. It will be tough, but I think they can win seven this year if they can eliminate the turnovers and be passable on defense.

Derek Carr had a strong sophomore season and returns to Fresno State looking to put up even bigger numbers in a new spread offense.

Fresno State has always been an interesting team to watch based on their attitude under former head coach Pat Hill of playing anybody, anywhere and while that strategy produced memorable games and blowouts just the same, it is nevertheless a new area at the program. After a 4-9 year -- the worst in school history -- Hill is gone and in comes new coach Tim DeRuyter from Texas A&M with new offensive (going to a spread) and defensive philosophies (from a 4-3 to a 3-4).

There are reasons to be excited for 2012 if you're a Bulldogs fans, starting with the 16 starters returning, most of any team in the conference. Let's face it, there were several key guys hurt last season that put a damper on the year and was partially a contributing factor to that number in the loss column, so it's hard to imagine they'll have that bad of luck again. On the other hand, the program has a new coach, new systems and is moving to a new and tougher league in the Mountain West. The new leadership is mitigated somewhat by DeRuyter's experience in the league as a defensive coordinator at Air Force but we've seen more often than not that teams struggle with the new opponents on the conference schedule. Outside of trips to Oregon and Boise State, there are several coin flip games on the schedule so I'd say you can be cautiously optimistic about being a minor factor in the MWC race and going to a solid bowl game in December.

Your guess is as good as mine. Having covered a number of these cases, it is rare for even those inside the NCAA to have a good handle on when everything will be wrapped up as the I's not only have to be dotted and the t's crossed, but they have to be double and triple checked. I'd expect there to be some movement in the case in the next two months by way of a standard, 'We're still working' update. Keep in mind we're also waiting for other programs such as Oregon to hear back from the enforcement folks so it will be a while before they can sort through all the allegations in Coral Gables.

James Franklin has picked up where he left off in 2012 with a top 25 class halfway until Signing Day in 2012.

The most surprising? I'd say Vanderbilt, sitting at No. 17 in the country according to MaxPreps, almost gives you a shock seeing them ranked that high at this point almost halfway to signing day. I'm not as high on top-100 quarterback Johnathon McCrary as others, but he's a big-time athlete that could give the offense a playmaker at the position if he keeps developing. Wide receivers Carlos Burse and Dominic Walker are two great, under-the-radar pick ups, and it is clear that the program is doing a better job with their 2013 class than in-state rival Tennessee (when was the last time you could say that?). Behind Vandy I'd also say Texas A&M, Notre Dame, Clemson and Penn State should be mentioned.

Most disappointing class? You have your Indiana's and Kansas' that are typically down at the bottom of team rankings because of numbers and their reliance on senior evaluations, but I'm pretty surprised that California hasn't done better than they are right now. Recent commit Cameron Hunt is a really good addition and could start sooner rather later in Strawberry Canyon. Besides him and Elite 11 quarterback Jared Goff though, there's not the kind of athletes committed that the Bears should be getting. Yes they lost their best recruiter to Washington in Tosh Lupoi, but if anybody could have taken advantage of a new staff at UCLA, a numbers crunch at USC and brand new facilities to boot, it should be Cal. I'm also kind of surprised Texas Tech, Miami and Nebraska haven't done better.

It was here today, gone tomorrow for Carl Lawson at The Opening.

Good question and I think the one player who tops the list is an easy pick in Alpharetta (Ga.) defensive end Carl Lawson. He's one of the nicer kids you'll meet, but that doesn't explain away getting sent home from The Opening for doing something pretty stupid. He was a guy that a lot of folks were eager to see play even if he couldn't, thanks to state high school rules, put on the pads like others. Not even making it to Day 2 is definitely a bummer for a guy who's stock has skyrocketed in the past couple of months.

The same goes for Derrick Henry, who didn't do a thing after the SPARQ challenge even though nobody had a good answer as to why he was just walking around talking and not participating. There's no doubt he's an impressive athlete but an event like this is where you can see what he needs to work on and yet all we left Portland with is the fact that Alabama is now his leader and he's a heck of a good looking prospect standing on the sidelines.

 
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