Big thanks, as always, to those of you who stopped by today to chat. A transcript is available here.
Zach Moseley (Lubbock, Texas): Does the ND offense have what it takes to run the table? Because the defense is just flat out incredible
Matt Fortuna (2:07 PM): Zach, not right now it doesn't. The defense has been incredible, but you can't expect it to play this good for so long. It's bound, like every other unit on every other team in America, to have an off-day, and the offense will need to be there to rise to the occasion.
Aaron (Bloomington, Ill.): Hey Tuna, Would you call this game a "defining opportunity" for Golsen to make himself heard? It seems he's only regressed the past couple of weeks and the offense has been completely lackluster. I don't know if that has to do with conservative play calling or either QB not seeing the field well, but I don't think Irish fans anywhere expected the significant drop-off in offensive production after Navy.
Matt Fortuna (2:20 PM): Aaron, I wouldn't overstate it like that, but against this defense, yes, Golson can't play the way he did against Michigan. There is a big chance here, especially after the bye, for the QB and the offense as a whole to take a step forward.
Evan (San Diego): Is Tyler Eifert's lack of production the past couple weeks purely due to defenses keying on him and sometimes shaky QB play, or is he struggling?
Matt Fortuna (2:24 PM): Evan, I think it's a combination of both. He's fine, by all accounts, and spoke to us yesterday. I think it's a matter of defenses completely focusing on him and the offense and the QB position as a whole not stepping up. Another WR, in particular, needs to emerge as a playmaker, and the QB needs to find him.
Bruce (Montana): Matt, each game we keep hearing that this game is the measuring stick. What game is going to be the one where ND actually gets credit for being a good team deserving of the top 10?
Matt Fortuna (2:44 PM): Bruce, its opponents haven't lived up to the hype so far. MSU has proven it has a long way to go before being a top-10 team. Michigan may be good, but ND forced 6 TOs and only won by 7. Alabama, by comparison, beat UM by 27. The transitive property doesn't illustrate everything, but that is one telling example of the difference between a national title contender and a good team. How much ND can bridge that gap between now and the end of the season remains to be seen, though a lot of it depends on the offense.