Lots of good questions this week. Let's get right to it.
Harry from Dalton, Ga., writes: Hey Matt. I'm wondering where this puts Hendrix in as far as getting playing time. It appears he is number 3 now and might not get much playing time with Rees having the more experience.
Matt Fortuna: Harry, [Andrew] Hendrix is certainly caught in a bit of a rough situation. He's not good enough to supplant [Everett] Golson as the starter, and he doesn't have the intangibles and experience that [Tommy] Rees has. But I think he still has assets Notre Dame likes. Brian Kelly has not named either the No. 2 quarterback. I'd expect Hendrix to see mostly late-game action in contests that are already decided, much like the Navy opener. Whether that will be enough to help his development -- or enough to surpass either quarterback in their respective roles -- remains to be seen.
Evan Sharp from South Lyon, Mich., writes: Hey Matt. With all of the recent injuries to the defense especially how do you think that will affect an already questionable defense against RB Bell and an improving QB Maxwell next week? Also what is YOUR input on who will get more reps in East Lansing between Golson vs. Hendrix, Rees and Riddick vs. Atkinson and a returning Wood? Thanks, Evan
Matt Fortuna: Evan, I don't think any of the injuries were serious enough to limit any of the defensive players this week. The only player who won't be able to go is kicker Nick Tausch, who hurt his groin late last week. Golson will start, and the plan is for him to finish. But if he has trouble late like he did last week and the outcome is still up in the air, it will be very interesting to see if Kelly makes the switch to Rees. Theo Riddick will start, and though Cierre Wood and George Atkinson are listed as the co-No. 2 running backs this week, I'd expect Wood to see more carries.
Mike Lozano from Orlando, Fla., writes: Hi Matt, I'm not sure how to feel about the recent move by ND to affiliate with the ACC. While I'm happy ND will get more exposure to recruits in the southeast & access to the Orange/other bowl games, the 5 game scheduling requirement against ACC teams makes me feel uneasy. Your thoughts?
Matt Fortuna: Mike, it shouldn't. Notre Dame plays four ACC games this season already, if you include Pittsburgh. It played four last season, if you include Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl. This move is a home run for the Irish, and it gives them plenty of bowl access, which has been arguably the biggest issue the program has faced in recent years.
Jason from Fishers, Ind., writes: I am just curious where the idea that the Purdue rivalry doesn't have the same history as the others in the Big Ten comes from. ND has played something like 84 games against the Boilers all time, which I believe puts it second on the number of times played list behind Navy. I have been having a discussion with my buddies about this and they are sort of in your camp, believing that the Purdue rivalry will be sacrificed with the new scheduling that takes place. I argue that this rivalry is more important to keep going than all others aside from Navy and USC. The Michigan rivalry has been on again, off again and Stanford is not a true rivalry, just an excuse to get out west. I am of the belief that now, more than previously, the Purdue game matters most because it continues to help recruiting and relevance to the midwest. My thought is that the west coast connection is already fulfilled by USC and always has been. The ACC games give you the southeast on up the east coast. A neutral site game can give you the east and even Texas/Oklahoma. If you get rid of all of the B1G rivalries, you basically remove all annual Midwest games that aren't played at home. Keeping Purdue is very important because it keeps an in-state rival to help bolster area recruiting. I know that ND recruits itself many times, but many kids that want to play in the ACC or out west would be better served by just going somewhere in the conference. To truly continue to be "National", ND should play Nationally, not just out west and down south, when away from Notre Dame Stadium. What are your thoughts on this idea? I can't find many that agree with my stance, but I truly see the Purdue rivalry as one very rich in history and necessary for the future. It gets the nod over MSU because of the fact that it is in-state, which holds its own importance.
Matt Fortuna: Jason, I think there will be some kind of scheduling cycle with all of the Big Ten rivalries that Notre Dame has, so I'm not sure the Boilermakers would be just wiped off the schedule for good. As for recruiting? I really don't think playing two hours down the road does much for the Irish. They're pretty well-known in the Midwest regardless. None of those Big Ten rivalries, in Notre Dame's eyes, are as important as the tradition that a Navy game has every year, or as valuable as getting West every year at USC and/or Stanford.