Thanks to those who stopped by this week's Notre Dame chat. As always, a transcript can be found right here.
Chris (Tulsa, OK): What's the practice schedule for Notre Dame and when can we see any player and/or coaches press conferences?
Matt Fortuna (2:11 PM): Chris, ND practices tomorrow, Sunday, Tuesday, next Thursday and Friday before getting off for Christmas Dec. 21-26. They return to campus the 27th and to practice the 28th, the first of four straight days of practices before flying to South Florida on Jan. 2. There, they will practice the Jan. 3-5. As for media? There's a big bowl media day Monday on campus, and we get players after practice next Thursday, along with after practice on the 29th with Brian Kelly. I don't have the official Florida media stuff in front of me but there will be plenty more there as well.
Jared (South Carolina): When Bama played LSU and A&M it was clear that their D is not what it's been in the past, is that due to personel or lack of preperation? Which aspect on offense is going to be most needed to beat Alabama? Will Kelly lean heavier on one single back or continue to platoon them?
Matt Fortuna (2:27 PM): Jared, that's because Bama lost seven starters from a national-title winning defense a year ago ... and the Tide are STILL No. 1 in total D and rushing D, and No. 2 in scoring D. I expect a platoon, since it's tough to see either of these guys getting 20-25 carries against this unit. And it wouldn't surprise me to see some over the top plays -- a la Chris Brown vs. Oklahoma -- since Bama's secondary is their (relatively) weak spot.
Brian (Raleigh): Hi Matty Ice! Do you get the sense that most ND fans are "just happy to be here"? I admit, as long as we don't get blown out, I feel like we had a pretty good year! Of course I want them to win, but given ND's previous BCS bowl losses, you can understand my concern.
Matt Fortuna (2:45 PM): Brian, a couple ways to look at this: You never know when the stars align and opportunities break for a team to make this kind of run. Look at Auburn, whose national-title winning coach is out of a job two years later. That being said, yes, barring a complete giveaway of the national title game, fans can look back on this season -- in the near or distant future, depending on your perspective -- and say this was a successful campaign. I mean, ND fans' biggest beef right now is that their star linebacker came in second in the Heisman voting -- after netting the most Heisman points of any exclusive defender ever. Imagine that scenario being presented before the season began.
Chris (Sacramento): My big concern is ND getting gashed for big yards (8 - 10 yards a play). Pitt was successful against us and I thought our Dline didn't play well in that game. Do you think we should stack the box early and make McCarron beat us with his arm?
Matt Fortuna (2:58 PM): Chris, I think a point that gets overlooked with that Pitt game is Louis Nix. He spent two nights in the hospital that week with the flu and clearly wasn't himself, and we saw how much easier that made things for Pitt on the ground. I'd like to see how McCarron handles pressure, if ND can get it, because I'm not sure he's really had too much of it so far.