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. Lots to talk about today, so let's get right to it.
2 QB questions. first how tight is rees' leash this week with having no first downs in the first quarter he is not looking good. second if you had to make a prediction who would you say the starter will be for the opener next year?
Matt (2:03 PM)
Nate, I don't think the leash is all that tight, especially after what happened when Dayne Crist went in last week. The second part is a good question, and one that I, for the time being, will answer with Rees, though I'm sure I'll change that opinion 100 times between now and then.
Patrick (Wilmington, NC)
Matt, Coach Kelly said some things that could be construed as throwing some players under the bus, and some aren't happy about it (as seen on Twitter). Did Kelly just unintentionally divide this team? How do you think the guys will respond on the field?
Matt (2:07 PM)
Patrick, I noticed that, and the reactions weren't pretty. I think we'll learn a lot about the situation based on how they play this Saturday. And I'm all the more curious now to see how this team responds. If ND loses to Navy for the fourth time in five years -- to a 2-5 Navy team with a QB making his first career start -- in wake of this past week, it could take a bad turn for the rest of the season.
Should ND just go with Hendrix at QB and play for 2012? Rees and Crist have proven that they don't have the skill to get a team into a BCS bowl.
Matt (2:10 PM)
Bob, Hendrix should definitely see more time to get ready for next season, but I don't think he should be the full-toime starter. Remember, Rees is the same age as him, and he is still in the development stage as well. I will say I feel awful for Dayne Crist.
Leadership is performance-based; and the seniors are not providing it. We need two more years of solid recruiting before we can even have 10-2 seasons to be BCS-worthy. Hence the question: Does the lack of senior leadership ruin the season ?
Matt (2:13 PM)
I'm not so sure that's the case. I don't think you'll find a better leader than Harrison Smith, who's a fifth-year player. Same for Manti Te'o, another Weis recruit. And Jonas Gray, among several others. It's always a tough situation getting your guys and your predecessor's guys to buy into the same concept along the way. As I said before, I'm very interested to see how this team comes out Saturday following BK's comments last night and Twittergate after it.
has Manti said anything about coming back next year?
Matt (2:14 PM)
Nope, nor would I really expect him to. He wasn't made available to speak this week for the first time all season.
John (Mendham, NJ)
Let me sum up the chat before it even starts:1) Two dozen questions about who should qb2) Three statements that there's too many qb questions2) Three questions: 'Hey Matt, if ND wins the rest of their games, is BCS still possible'?3) 4 questions about what it would take to become ranked4) 6 questions about what bowl should ND go to, undeservedly, because its ND. 5) 0 questions remembering Declan Sullivan6) 0 percent chance you post this.
Matt (2:15 PM)
You owe me a dollar, John.
Kris (Erie, PA)
So, why didn't the Irish use up their timeouts during last week's game vs. SC?
Matt (2:17 PM)
Kris, BK said he thought about it. Do I think it would have made a difference? I suppose if you see a team return an inexplicable fumble the length of the field for a TD earlier in the game, you can hope more quirks like that happen again. I probably would have just to avoid the ensuing backlash and USC comments that came, as it was one more thing BK had to deal with and answer throughout this week.
I know that its way too early to be looking at things like this however assuming ND goes 8-4 winning out and losing to Stanford, can we as ND fans truly call that a disappointing season? I mean it is an improvement from what they were last year at the same time and considering the schedule they played i think i see improvement and that should be enough as a bench mark what do you think?
Matt (2:20 PM)
Brandon, you're in the minority there. The team lost three games it very easily could have won and, depending on the bowl game, could have the same record as the year before. BK said yesterday he gets so upset because the team is so close, not because it was out-played.
JR (Bloomington, IN)
ND has many great traditions that I hope last forever, since when was "not having a jumbotron" one of them? Its not like Knute Rockne installed the cheesy high school scoreboards we have now, at one time those were thought of as progressive. I think ND can move forward to the 21st century with jumbotrons, field turn, music etc...while still embracing the many great traditions the school has don't you agree?
Matt (2:24 PM)
JR, any time you change something that's been the same for so long there will be some backlash. A Jumbotron, I think, would be fine. FieldTurf as well. And yes, even music, though it felt forced Saturday at certain points. (I'm talking to you, Ozzy.) I did really like Dropkick Murphy's for opening kickoff.
RIP Xavier Murphy (Notre Dame, IN)
With the addition of George Atkinson III in the backfield, the Irish truly have a three punch combo -- finesse, power and speed. How do you see this combination playing out against Navy?
Matt (2:26 PM)
Nice name. Xavier seemed like a great kid based on everyone I talked to for my story, and I'm happy he's receiving so much recognition this weekend. As for your question, I think it's far too early to tell how Atkinson will be in the backfield, though if he's even half as quick a learner there as he is returning kicks, that could be exciting for ND.
Is there any chance whatsoever that if ND wins out and knocks off an undefeated Standford team at home that they go BCS bowling?
Matt (2:28 PM)
Jason, I'd give it a shot, however unlikely your scenario may seem at this point. They'd have to finish in the top 14, which would be tough considering they're getting little to no recognition from the voters at the moment. I would put the BCS plans on hold if I'm a traveling fan, however.
George (Charlotte, NC)
You saw (probably wrote) the article about Kelly essentially calling out the upper classmen for the teams ability to play consistently. Did you think that was a fair comment? Will it help motivate them to perform better?
Matt (2:30 PM)
George, based on the Twitter reaction, no, it hasn't. Twitter, of course, is a funny and dangerous tool these days, however, and perhaps tensions have quelled in the day since. As I said, I think we'll learn a lot about this team Saturday.
Josh (columbus, ohio)
Didnt see the team coming out so flat last week. I expect the Irish to have achip on their should this week, much like the MSU game. Having said that, Do you see the chip on the shoulder coming back after being knocked back to reality by USC?
Matt (2:33 PM)
Josh, good question. I've said earlier that I think they wouldn't have beaten MSU up so bad had they not been 0-2 entering that game (I think they still would have won.) Remember Navy's playing with a chip as well. Four losses by eight total points, alnog with a questionable call that cost them a go-ahead touchdown late last week.
With a 4-3 record and the daunting schedule ahead for next season, do you sense we will see Hendrix get an increase in playing time over the next 5 "easier" games so Kelly has game time experience to judge these QB's for next year's starter?
Matt (2:35 PM)
Greg, I do. I'd expect Rees to be the starter still and receive the majority of snaps, but working in Hendrix more and more should be a point of emphasis over these last five games.
George Atkinson III is outstanding on kick offs. Don't you think they should give him more of a look at running back?
Matt (2:35 PM)
Curt, BK said on his radio show last night he'd see time in the backfield this week. There are a lot of question marks there behind Gray and Woods, so the sooner the better, in my opinion.
Mike (South Bend, IN)
It seems Kelly is trying to figure out who the winners and losers on the team are. Given some of the twitter whining by players, I think it is pretty clear. I'm glad to finally see a ND coach carry a big stick and get rid of the sense of entitlement these players seem to have.
Matt (2:38 PM)
Mike, fair point, for sure. But if things point south the rest of the season, it won't look like such a smart move.
Now that all BCS hopes are gone, do we see a bit of a youth movement w/ some of this years highly touted recruiting class getting some more time?
Matt (2:39 PM)
Ryne, coaches will never admit to that, but yes. Atkinson in the backfield could be one. Hendrix getting more time could be another. They really don't have a choice at D-line now with so many injuries, though this experience, especially against option teams, can't hurt the Lynches and Tuitts moving forward.
Matt, should we be concerned that after what was called the biggest weekend on campus ever at ND for recruiting that the staff came away with no verbal commitments?
Matt (2:42 PM)
Paul, I wouldn't be. These things usually take time, and it seemed by most accounts that there was an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the weekend.
John (Grand Rapids)
Matt, I know that we keep discussing Rees and Hendrix, but doesn't your gut tell you that the real quarterback of the future is Golston. At the risk of "hurting feelings", how can he not be? Why not move forward, and start working him into the mix now....Eventually, someone is going to have to be the odd man out.
Matt (2:43 PM)
John, I'd think it's too late for that. May as well preserve the year of eligibility now and open the competition up in the offseason. There's enough at that spot as is.
John (Mendham, NJ)
Matt, at what point do you stop saying that they lost games they 'very easily could have won' and just accept the fact that they have lousy ball security and are inconsistent, which has been their hallmark all season. It's who they are, and a trademark of BK. Woulda, coulda, shoulda, DIDN'T.
Matt (2:46 PM)
John, that's a fair point. I'm not into woulda, coulda, shoulda, either. You are who your record says you are. But losing three games with a combined 13 turnovers is certainly more frustrating than getting blown out.
Kelly says Cierre Wood failed to live up to expectations, but it seemed to me that one of the major causes for this was Notre Dame abandoning the running game. What do you think?
Matt (2:48 PM)
Joe, I was a bit surprised they got away from the run so early. I think the main thing, however, is that fourth-quarter fumble on the pass back from Rees that essentially sealed the game.
It seems with Miller in at qb for Navy the threat of the deep pass is there for Navy again. Even thought Proctor was great at reading the option is deep pass threat was non existent. It seems Navy may be more like Navy of last year with a b thatcan run the option and pass like Dobbs did. Do you see tere chances better with Miller at qb than Proctor?
Matt (2:51 PM)
Will, tough to say. Miller's making his first career start, in one of the game's historic buildings, but I think they'll let him loose a bit. We saw him throw a lot last week having to lead a comeback drive and all. I admittedly have not seen enough of Proctor to compare the two all that well but wouldn't underestimate the danger of facing a team that HAS to have a chip on its shoulder given the way its season has gone and is now featuring a new QB.
John (Grand Rapids)
Matt,I understand the year of eligibility issue with Golston, but if he doesn't get playing time this year, don't you think that there is a good chance he will transfer? He looked very good during the Spring game, and with Rees, Hendrix and Golston going at it again for next year...someone will need to go, and I just think that Golston has the best skill set for the BK offense, don't you?
Matt (2:54 PM)
John, I don't think you can let the transfer possibility (if there even is one) play too big of a role in your decision-making. That seems to become more and more commonplace in college sports these days and is not exactly a good thing. You have a plethora of quarterbacks and I think you want the guys who will rise up to the challenge of competition. Plus, saving a year would help Golston's chances in the future.
I like James Franklin of Vandy as the next coach at ND, thoughts on him?
Matt (2:55 PM)
Here we go ...
Does the loss to USC pretty much seal the fate that ND will no longer be an independent, truly a sad day for Irish fans.
Matt (2:57 PM)
Willow, not sure I see eye to eye with you there.
Matt (2:57 PM)
Running low on time, everyone. Can only take a few more.
his last game in golson by the way not golston
Matt (2:58 PM)
My bad. You're bound to have a typo or two in one of these things, and ... wait, what's a last game?!
Matt, I'm getting annoyed with the fact that ND always has to have a chip on their shoulder leading up to a game to be able to win that game. An attitude adjustment is needed so that they come out and play hard every game. Like Alabama or LSU, they come out of the gate ready to play every week, especially agaisnt rivals.
Matt (3:00 PM)
I did like BK's comment about adversity yesterday. He said last year's team had to deal with it, this one didn't. In short, it can or could have controlled the things that happened to it this season.
Matt (3:00 PM)
That's all for today, folks. Enjoy Game 7 tonight, along with the rest of your weekends.