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 Fortuna (2:00 PM)
Welcome aboard, all, for our second gathering this week. Notre Dame added a new player in the four days since (you can read about him here: (http://espn.go.com/blog/notre-dame-football/post/_/id/4972/qa-with-eamon-mcosker). Anyway, shoot.
@mattconfer1 (Pittsburgh pa)
Matt, with all the buzz surrounding golson do you now expect to see him #1 on the depth chart week 1 vs navy? and having hendrix come in as part of a 2 qb system kelly employed at cincy?
Matt Fortuna (2:04 PM)
Matt, everyone has had nothing but nice things to say about Golson this past year, and his skill set certainly looks like a natural fit for Kelly's offense. That being said, he'll have a lot of ground to make up behind Hendrix and Rees, so I can't say I expect him under center Week 1, though I wouldn't rule it out.
rich. f utica ny [via mobile]
Does the idea intrigue you to join a major conference , or do you feel staying as an independent helps strengthen your national image?
Matt Fortuna (2:09 PM)
Rich, I take it you mean Notre Dame, not me. Regardless, I like their status as an independent, especially with potential upcoming changes to the BCS. They'll be free to negotiate their own bowl contracts and, of course, hold onto their national image and the benefits that come with that in recruiting and scheduling.
Brandon Smith (Richmond, VA)
How high would you rank Notre Dame's front seven when comparing them to other top defensive programs? Is it strong enough to get the Irish to a ten win season even if offense stays inconsistent?
Matt Fortuna (2:14 PM)
Brandon, that defensive line has the chance to be right up there with some of the best. The linebackers will need a few guys to rise up next to Manti Te'o. That being said, 10 wins is asking an awful lot against this schedule, especially with the uncertainties in the passing game.
lewis (united kingdom)
hi matt, how do you think the irish will perform this season coming?and who would you want as the starting QB? cheers
Matt Fortuna (2:18 PM)
Lewis, I think expectations, at least outside the program and Midwest, will be a bit dwindled because of QB uncertainties and a devastating schedule. I think a nine-win season would be impressive when you consider all of those factors. As for the QB? Based on skill set I've seen, I like Andrew Hendrix a lot, but he has a long way to go. And I haven't seen enough of Gunner Kiel yet.
Do you think what Kelly is doing by moving the staff around is going to make a big impact on the team's performance?
Matt Fortuna (2:22 PM)
Joel, I'm most anxious to see how the offense performs with Chuck Martin running the show there. He had great success at GVSU (granted, that's not the same level) and you'll be hard-pressed to find a player or coach who doesn't have good things to say about him.
Hey Matt, people have asked you before if Notre Dame will ever get back to national prominence because of the academic standards handicapping them. Then to refute, you usually point out Stanford for the last 2 years. Now when I think national prominence I think of the ability to play at the same level of the Alabama's and LSU's. Stanford couldn't beat the best opponent on their schedule both years, Oregon, in fact they gave up over 100 points combined to the Ducks in 2010 and 2011. So I'd have to say while close, they still weren't there and I think it all comes down to the talent gap on defenses, which i can't ever see changing in favor of the Notre Dame's and Stanford's.
Matt Fortuna (2:29 PM)
Aaron, I don't disagree that Stanford isn't at the level of LSU or Alabama, two of the best defenses of recent memory. But it is still a program that has had plenty of recent success, enough that Notre Dame fans would love to have after the last few years. More than anything, I think it proves that you can still have success with strict academic requirements, which some fans seem to think is impossible and blame for the Irish's recent struggles.
Last season the main problem was with the quarterback. No one predicted that because ND had Crist and Rees who both looked solid. The QB position is hopefully going to be solid this year, but what position do you think will unexpectedly fail? Or, better yet, unexpectedly do very well?
Matt Fortuna (2:32 PM)
Joel, I'm not saying it will fail, but who will catch passes -- particularly the deep ball -- is a big question mark. I expect some splash from the punt return game, if only because it can't possibly be worse than last season.
Happy Friday, Matt! I can't remember the last time the Irish beat both of the Michigan schools. With the way the first 3 quarters in Ann Arbor went, and the front seven coming on strong, plus Michigan State going into what I think will be a down year compared to the last two,could 2012 be the year we can beat them both?
Matt Fortuna (2:36 PM)
Tim, always a Happy Friday. It's certainly possible, but ND is in no better position to do it this year than it was the last three years. I don't think MSU will lose much, though it's not easy to replace a QB and leader like Cousins. And Michigan, well, let's just say they have a certain QB ND may be familiar with ...
Do you see any of the freshmen making the same kind of impact this year that Lynch/Tuit made last year? Also, I can't imagine a scenario where Rees is the QB to take us to the next level, I don't think Hendrix is either, what are the chances we see Golson or Keil start in Dublin?
Matt Fortuna (2:42 PM)
JR, it's tough to see any freshmen playing that well, and, in addition, getting the opportunity to play that well. So many d-linemen went down and forced those guys to play more than they were supposed to. Rees' lack of mobility certainly holds him back, but you can't discount his experience. I think Hendrix's skill-set is one that could really get the offense moving. Regardless, I doubt we'll see just one QB next season.
DFree (ATL GA)
With such a brutal schedule, with a way too early prediction how do you see the Irish record next season?
Matt Fortuna (2:43 PM)
8-4, and I expect that to change roughly 1,834 times between now and the season opener.
Ty Woodall (WV)
Why have we not gone to a more up-tempo style...such as Oregon? Or is that the goal this year?
Matt Fortuna (2:45 PM)
Ty, that's asking an awful lot. Oregon is very unique and runs an offense virtually unlike anyone else's. I don't think you can point to them as something you'd like to model yourself after. That being said, the tempo has not really been up to the pace everyone would like it to be at so far. I think the win over Maryland was the best example of what the offense can do when it's hitting on all cylinders, but they need to maintain that through multiple games.
What was the reaction in South Bend when Greensbury announced he was going to Houston? I hear this guy shys away from competition so I'm still on the fence on whether that was a win for the Cougars or not.
Matt Fortuna (2:49 PM)
Norman, everyone was surprised that he went to Houston, of all places. Nothing against the Cougars, but to choose a place with a new coach and a new QB at a place with limited tradition over a place like ND is shocking. Some fans compared it to another 99-yard fumble return for a touchdown (h/t to B&G's Lou Somogyi for telling me fans were saying that). To get to your point, it is a huge win for a program like Houston.
Gary Gray (ND)
True, but unlike in the big house, I won't be around to forget how to play defense this time...
Matt Fortuna (2:51 PM)
Gary, your team should have never been in that position to begin with.
What one team on the 2012 schedule do you see Notre Dame upseting? What one team do you see as a possible hiccup?
Matt Fortuna (2:54 PM)
Aaron, ND, as always, has a real chance at baeting Michigan or MSU, and the Irish should be the underdogs again this year. Hiccup? I'd be scared of that Week 2 home game against an improved Purdue game, as ND will be coming back from a long trip to Dublin and possibly be prone to getting knocked off. Stanford, Miami and BYU are all wild cards, as well.
Coley (sitting in Denver airport) [via mobile]
Matt, would you be so kind on to comment on the promise of Special Teams this year?
Matt Fortuna (2:57 PM)
Coley, since you're sitting in an airport and I know how that can be, I will be so kind to comment. The staff's philosophy will change a bit, as I think it realized it dropped the ball there in the middle of the season and it was too late to go back. Scott Booker, the new ST coach, said he's already gotten to work on it and is optimistic they'll find their man to return punts once the season gets underway.
Will (Northridge, CA)
The Last time Notre Dame lost 2 of fewer games was in 1993. The only people who care about Notre Dame are Delusional Fans, and those who revel in their Below Average Football team.
Matt Fortuna (2:58 PM)
Busy Friday for you, huh Will?
Matt, in 2005 stovall and samardzija were two pretty average receivers that came out of nowhere to become as elite of a tandem as anyone at the time, granted they had brady quin at the other end. Do you see any WR next year who could "come out of nowhere" in a similar fashion?
Matt Fortuna (2:59 PM)
Luke, DaVaris Daniels or Justin Ferguson have a chance. BK is pretty high on Chris Brown, too, but I'm not sure he has the body to be a No. 1.
Matt Fortuna (3:00 PM)
That's all from me today guys. Thanks for the great turnout for the second time this week. Enjoy the weekend.