Chat with Matt Fortuna
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, Notre Dame blogger Matt Fortuna stops by to chat about the Fightin' Irish's football season.
Fortuna joined ESPN.com in 2011 after working for MLB.com and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, where he covered college sports. He grew up in New York and is a Penn State graduate.
Send your questions now and join Fortuna Friday at 2 p.m. ET!
Matt (2:01 PM)
Greetings everyone. A pretty chilly fall day here in South Bend, but let's get right to it.
Irish will get squash saturday!!!! 0-3, what a bunch of losers!!!!You can take a pig out of a pig pen but it's still a pig!!! Michagan State 42 Irish 24!!!!
Matt (2:03 PM)
If ND were a pig, wouldn't its home stadium be its pig pen?
Denard (Ann Arbor)
Too bad we only play once a year :-) Go beat Sparty for us!
Matt (2:04 PM)
I think everyone in Ann Arbor, and no one here, is with you on that one, Shoelace. Welcome to Twitter, by the way.
Notre Lame (Colorado)
Why does anyone care about ND - my son is 16, and he has never seen Notre Dame beet a ranked team - ND needs to join a conference and earn their bowl games - much like every other program in the country.
Matt (2:05 PM)
Notre Lame, I guess your son didn't see last year's win over then-No. 15 Utah. And I think the Irish are glad they're able to sit aside right now while conference expansion dominates the talk.
It's inevitable that Saturday will down to the wire. "Little Giants" play aside, who has the better special teams unit, MSU or ND?
Matt (2:07 PM)
You can't do much worse than what ND has done so far on special teams, that's for sure. Though moving John Goodman to punt returner has seemed to give Theo Riddick more opportunities offensively.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Which Notre Dame College Football Players will be ready to play in the NFL in 2012?
Matt (2:09 PM)
Michael Floyd for sure. Manti Te'o, too, if he chooses to enter the draft. Cierre Wood could see his stock rise if he keeps up the production this year as well.
Notre Dame Offense (On the field)
Hey Matt, we just wanted to ask you a ques*INEXPLICABLY DROPS BALL ON TURF, DEFENSE DIVES ON IT*. Seriously though, think we stop the turnover problems this week or are we looking at 0-3?
Matt (2:10 PM)
ND is on pace for a historically bad season turnover-wise. Call me crazy, but I really can't see this keeping up. And yes, if they do stop it they win the game Saturday.
Josh (Central Ohio)
Matt, To what do you attribute the appalling ND secondary play? Poor coaching, lack of athletic ability, no heart? How far is ND from having an elite defense?
Matt (2:12 PM)
Notre Dame is looking at as if it had seven good quarters and one awful one, something that can be said for the defense as a whole. Gary Gray has obviously seen better days but he's certainly done enough in his career for fans to not lose faith in him.
When will people give Notre Dame a break? They are only a Midlevel team and have been for 40 years. The only reason they won any National Campion ships since the 70?s is week competition, and sports writers. They are good school with high academic standards and good values, but not a good football team. I think they should be given credit for taking the high road.
Matt (2:13 PM)
William, you're giving people in my profession way too much credit. Thanks, I suppose.
Should Kelly be taking a bit more heat about some (important) questionable personal decisions so far this year like starting the wrong quarterback against USF and continuing to start the worst punter in the FBS?
Matt (2:14 PM)
I think he'd be hearing it a lot more about the QB situation if Tommy Rees didn't play so well, but Rees has made it a virtual non-issue. And the ND staff insists no one comes close to Turk in practice. He needs to improve on Saturdays, clearly.
Why are you relatively down (compared to your fellow power rankers) on the the Sooners?
Matt (2:17 PM)
Fair question, Crabman, but I base my rankings on what a team has done, not what it is projected to do. By that logic, I have a hard time placing OU so high when it's played one less game. Beat FSU and they will be rewarded justly.
Did your son watch the Utah game last year?
Matt (2:18 PM)
I believe David is talking to you, Notre Lame.
Philly Joe 0317 (Philly)
Surprised the Irish are favored by 5?
Matt (2:19 PM)
Yes, I am, though it says more about how they've played so far than their 0-2 record. I suppose something has to give.
Irish Fan (ATL)
I'm a die-hard, I was SHOCKED to see a site had ND favored by 5.5 points... Odds of this happening?!
Matt (2:19 PM)
I picked them to win 23-17, so, in my humble opinion, good.
Is there a receiver in the country playing better than Michael Floyd?
Matt (2:21 PM)
I've loved what USC's Robert Woods has done so far, but sure, you can make that argument. The Oct. 22 game will be a great showcase for both of them.
Isn't this supposed to be a Q&A? Matt has asked more questions then the silly spartan fans.What are your realistic expectations for this game (assuming the Irish STOP turning the ball over)?
Matt (2:22 PM)
That's a pretty big assumption, Chris. If true, though, they win the game. As would have been the case in Weeks 1 and 2, as well.
In what horrible manner will the Irish manage to lose this weekend? I need to prepare my liver for the bad news.
Matt (2:23 PM)
At least you're not Leo Staudacher. The man had a heart attack at the game, woke up, and THEN saw the finish. Rough stuff.
Tom (South Bend)
Have you seen the field yet? Please tell me the turf looks better than it did in the first game.
Matt (2:24 PM)
I have not seen it yet, though it wasn't in great shape Week 1 before the downpour. Brian Kelly said yesterday that he hasn't noticed it and that such matters are in the hands of Jack Swarbrick.
Where do you see D. Crist playing college ball next year?
Matt (2:25 PM)
Good question. It's way too early in this season to rule out ND. That being said, if things continue this way with Rees, it wouldn't shock me to see him in the state you're writing from.
Tim (St. Louis)
The defense has been pretty solid so far (last week's 4th quarter aside) but I've yet to see the kind of pass rush that can make life easier on the defensive backs. When do we start to see guys like Fleming and Shembo, maybe Lynch, putting serious pressure on the quarterback?
Matt (2:26 PM)
Tim, BK said this week Fleming has been good but not great. They are expecting big things out of him this year. Lynch, and Stephon Tuitt, for that matter, should see a lot more time this week. And I'd expect a better pass-rush against a conventional QB like Kirk Cousins.
Matt,I firmly believe BK is the guy and love his passion and commitment to the process. Do you believe that at some point we will see Hendrix or Golson this season? And can we expect to see Lo Wood and the young D-lineman playing tomorrow?
Matt (2:28 PM)
Yes, I think we'll see those QBs at some point this season. But the conditions have not been ideal so far, as ND has been playing tight or from behind. The young D-linemen will play tomorrow, but I don't see BK abandoning anyone in that secondary.
Can you tell all the Kelly bashers to give it a rest. I've seen more improvement over the past 15 games than I had in the last 9 years. Since Floyd is leaving next year, who is going to step up after him? besides Riddick and TJ Jones
Matt (2:30 PM)
DaVaris Daniels, for one, though he has a different body type than Floyd's.
I'm guessing we're going to see ND going for it on a lot of 4th and short situations, just hope not up the middle. Any news on recruiting a punter from the soccer field???
Matt (2:31 PM)
They seemed to dominate up the middle for three quarters last week but struggled against a loaded box in the fourth. I wouldn't hold my breath on the soccer scenario, though I've seen it done in HS before.
Joe (Fleetwood PA)
Hi Matt, I see three keys to the game. One TURNOVERS. Two Floyd and finally three the irish ground game. I see Irish winning this one by a touchdown, Kelly is to smart to let them keep up this kind of play
Matt (2:32 PM)
Joe, the last two you mentioned haven't given ND much to worry about so far. The first one, well, yeah. And that's the only one that will dictate the outcome.
How will ND stop the MSU offense with so many skilled players? How do you think ND wins?
Matt (2:34 PM)
By getting pressure on Cousins, for one. And I think this style suits ND's D a lot better than the first two, as it is a more traditional offense that won't throw a whole lot of surprises at you. And it certainly is better than facing Denard Robinson.
Sure Notre Dame has played solid football for 6 quarters and probably lost due to errors on their part, but Michigan State is not Michigan nor South Florida and is a much stronger team with a pretty good D and offense.
Matt (2:36 PM)
Shawn, MSU is certainly a better overall team than USF and Michigan, but I think we all came away from the first two games thinking ND was, too. Of course, two losses make that a moot point, but I don't think you can look at records when predicting this one.
Hunterpkp (Atlanta, GA)
Matt, why does Notre Dame always get so much credit, yet suck so much when it really counts? College football is a better place with ND being good. When are you guys going to get it together?
Matt (2:37 PM)
Well, if by "you guys" you mean me and the ND players/staff, you're barking up the wrong tree. I agree, though, that sports in general are much more fun when marquee teams are doing well. I don't particularly like the Lakers or Celtics, but I wouldn't complain if they faced each other in the Finals every year.
Ryan (Cedar Rapids)
Its funny that so many people think the Irish are going to win this game.. they cant hold on to the ball, they have a jacked up quarterback situation.. there defense is under conditioned.. I got Mich St. by 2 touchdowns..
Matt (2:39 PM)
Ryan, I'm not sure what you mean by the QB situation. Yes, it was weird to see Rees come in so soon, but he isn't to blame for these two losses, though there is certainly some room for improvement. And conditioning isn't a problem with Paul Longo in charge.
Ryan (Cedar Rapids)
Kelly has been nothing but controversy to the program.. hes a lousy coach that makes lousy decisions.. and i think 98% of people would agree with me.. true or false this is his last year?
Matt (2:41 PM)
Controversial how? By removing a QB after one mediocre half? His track record shows he's the guy for the job and to get ND out of this poor start. And to answer your question in a word, false.
Officer Dan (Durham)
Any chance that we will see the special teams do anything big this game in terms of a trick play? (revenge for the fake FG of last year)
Matt (2:42 PM)
Officer Dan, funny you mention that. Kelly seemed to shoot down the idea last night on his radio show when he was asked about it, but it's something I've had in the back of my mind all week long. Of course, the whole element of surprise would be ruined if ND even hinted at it during the week.
Will (Greensboro, NC)
Matt, Someone told me today that Braxton Cave commented on Kelly's yelling. I've searched but found nothing. Have you heard anything about that?
Matt (2:44 PM)
Will, I was with Braxston for much of his interview session this week and never heard it, though it's certainly possible he could have talked about it when I wasn't there. And if it was anything truly controversial, I'm sure it would've been on all of our radars by now.
Kyle (East Lansing)
As a mid michigan resident I have had a long couple of years as a die hard ND fan. I really believe this team will win saturday and going forward. Is it safe to say that MSU will shocked by the speed and athleticism compared to last years ND team, not to mention the competition they have faced this year so far?
Matt (2:45 PM)
Kyle, even I feel for you after ND's trips to that state the past two years. I think ND is a deeper team on the D-line, so that may catch MSU off-guard a bit. And yes, ND isn't YSU or FAU, so it does make it a little more difficult to prepare for them.
John (Richmond (VA))
Notre Dame 8-4 at best and 6-6 at worst.
Matt (2:46 PM)
That's a pretty small difference between maxing and bottoming out.
Zach (Heart of Buckeye country)
Which bowl game do you see the Irish in at the end of this season? I could see them winning out the rest of this season if they could just hold onto the ball, and play a consistent game from start to finish.
Matt (2:47 PM)
Zach, I'll say Champs Sports Bowl for now. The schedule does get a bit easier, though Stanford at the end of the year will be a very difficult game.
Matt, I want to believe ND will pull this one out but after yelling to the point of almost blacking out, what assurance can I give to my wife that I won't have a stroke watching this game? Is there anything you've seen that legitimately backs up your prediction of an ND W?
Matt (2:49 PM)
Shane, I feel bad for your wife. And, I suppose, you as well. I've seen an offense top over 500 yards in consecutive games and a defense that has been good for six-and-a-half quarters. Now if only they can hang onto the ball ...
Matt,Last week you said "I don't think you can say a team was overrated after just one week. ... Lose tomorrow to go to 0-2, and then panic mode will really set in." Thoughts? Time to panic?
Matt (2:51 PM)
Ryan, way to hold me to my word. There's certainly an edge around everyone right now, from the annoyed tone Harrison Smith and Manti Te'o took with us during their joint press conference this week to BK calling his first live game-week practice. I don't think anyone is, or should be, content.
Tell Ryan it get a life and worry about the problems with his Hawkeyes.
Matt (2:51 PM)
owen (Boise )
I have seen nothing to indicate to me that ND is a force this year. potential does not win. why all the hype about ND when teams like Boise and LSU are undefeated?
Matt (2:53 PM)
Owen, I think you're interpretation of hype is a bit wide. Boise and LSU are getting hype because they could compete for a national title. ND is getting attention, not hype, because it is the third-winningest program of all-time and lost twice in unimaginable fashion. Not all attention is good attention.
Rees isn't too blame for the two losses? I'm thinking if he doesn't "fumble" at the three yard line and connects that pass to Floyd the Irish win last week.
Matt (2:55 PM)
Matt, he definitely has room to improve. The second interception to Floyd, for instance, was inexplicable. But he's also 19, had a stroke of bad luck in the red zone in the 4th and still bounced back on his next drive to throw a go-ahead TD with :30 left in front of the biggest college crowd ever. You can't teach that, and it's what gives ND so much faith in him.
Tommy Trojan (Trousdale Parkway, USC)
The season is still very young, but why do I get the feeling that this year's USC-ND game will be the Underwhelming Bowl? Both teams look very average right now....
Matt (2:57 PM)
Tommy, I think it will still be a big game, if for no other reason than ND hasn't hosted a night game in 21 years. And USC can't be happy with letting one get away last year.
Matt (2:57 PM)
All right, can take only a few more ...
Matt, has the pass rush been hindered the last two weeks because the line has been "sitting back" against two mobile QBs? Will this week finally be the week we see the DL "let loose"?
Matt (2:59 PM)
Steve, I don't think sitting back is the right term, but it was assignment football. They couldn't take as many chances. Against a guy like Cousins and his O-line, it's power against power. So yes, I do think we see a better pass-rush this weekend.
Lisa (Princeton, NJ)
I thought Bob Davie said it best recently, everything regarding coaches is viewed through the prism of wins and losses. What would "they" (read: the media/fans) be saying about BK today if ND was 2-0 but had everything else was the same (same turnovers, etc.)?
Matt (3:00 PM)
They'd probably be saying his fiery attitude is just what this group of kids need to take it to the next level.
Bren (Berkeley, Ca)
How nervous are the folks in South Bend about potentially being shut out of all the conference expansions? B1G is the best fit,but the Irish always seem to look down their noses at any discussion of joining the B1G.
Matt (3:01 PM)
They're not nervous. And they will never be shut out if and when major changes do take place.
Matt (3:02 PM)
All right everyone, thanks for stopping by. Let's see if we can get together on better terms (for you guys, at least) next week.