Chat with Matt Fortuna
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, 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 Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
Matt Fortuna (1:59 PM)
Welcome aboard, gang. What's happening?
Before the Michigan game I asked if ND would still be able to claim that they had given up no rushing TDs, the consensus was no, but they pulled it out. How about after this week?
Matt Fortuna (2:03 PM)
Andrew, I'll go out and say yes. ND's front-7 should again have a massive advantage, though the secondary needs to avoid giving up the big play.
kenny Bx [via mobile]
Tuitt, Teo and Eifert locks for All America? Does Wood go off Sat?
Matt Fortuna (2:05 PM)
Kenny, Eifert is far from a lock, especially after one catch in two games. Voters will look at numbers when making those decisions, regardless of how well he blocks or how big his potential is. The other two look to have a strong chance, yes.
Zach Moseley (Lubbock, TX)
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.
I might be in the minority, but I'm not worried about Saturday's game at all. Fun stat: Miami's 3 (close) wins were against FBS teams whose combined records vs FBS teams is 2-8 (with wins against noted national powers UVA and UConn).
Matt Fortuna (2:10 PM)
Jerry, I wouldn't be worried, but at the same time, if I'm an ND fan, I'm probably always thinking worst-case scenario, especially in a season like this one. Miami has no real reason to be 4-1 now, and it got trounced by the one really good team it faced, but fluky things can happen when a young team starts developing confidence, and Miami certainly brings playmakers on the offensive side of the ball that ND hasn't seen yet from other teams.
chris torre (san diego)
how did the Irish become so highly rated? No offense, no secondary, can't run, can't throw, can't defend the pass against a decent qb. What's up with the No 10 spot?
Matt Fortuna (2:13 PM)
Chris, can you name me 11 better undefeated teams right now? It's early, these things have a way of evening out, and we'll eventually find out if the Irish are for real or not.
Brennan Pawelski (Naperville, IL)
Although USC and Stanford do not look as strong as they were at the beginning of the year, what are the chances Notre Dame beats both those teams?
Matt Fortuna (2:15 PM)
I see no reason to think ND doesn't have a strong chance of winning those games, especially against Stanford. On the other hand, there are still plenty of flaws that can make either game go south fast for ND.
Jeff (South Bend)
So what are the chances, that if either Michigan or Michigan St win the B1G, and ND has at least 10 wins, that ND jumps them for a chance to play in their BCS game?
Matt Fortuna (2:18 PM)
None, Jeff, though I like that idea, especially with the B1G so down this year.
Aaron (Bloomington, IL)
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.
Ted (New York)
Do you get to pick which questions you answer? If so, you should start bypassing these repetitive questions every week of "do you think nd can make a bcs bowl?" or "What's your prediction of the game this week?" even though you've already made it. Anyway, do you think ND can make a BCS bowl thi...i mean...Is BK making the entire playbook open to Golsen during the games right now? Or will he keep a more cliff notes version to ease him in more and more though out the year?
Matt Fortuna (2:29 PM)
Funny, Ted, but I'd say 90 percent of the questions are re-gurgitations of others. To get to your question: No, I don't think Golson has the freedom that a more experienced QB would have. You can't expect someone who is essentially a rookie to go right in and run things the way a senior would. You need to ease him in. As BK said this week, last year the offense tried running things at full-speed and got too many speeding tickets. This year it needs to avoid those TOs, especially with the defense as strong as it's been and the potential for a special season remaining.
Tim (New York)
How long do you think that Golson will be the starting QB and do you think Coach Kelly will be quicker this week to put Reese in the game? I generally think QB controversies are bad but I think forcing an opposing team to prepare for both QB's could have its advantages.
Matt Fortuna (2:34 PM)
Tim, I'd expect to see Golson in there for much of the game Saturday, but if he struggles he won't leave BK with much of a choice. I don't think this confuses opposing defenses in preparing for the Irish, because this QB system isn't going anywhere. I, too, think a one QB system is ideal, but ND can't afford too many risks on offense with the defense playing as well as it has.
Jared (South Carolina)
I know that Coach Kelly is confident that Golson will be ready for this game, but have you seen or heard anything that would make you wonder if Golson might eventually back up Tommy if we have a chance for a big BCS bowl game? What is your level of confidence in Golson?
Matt Fortuna (2:37 PM)
Jared, not yet. BK is in the odd position of having to win now while preparing his signal caller for the future. Unless Golson really isn't ready and has more performances like the one against Michigan, BK can't afford to give up on a guy who could have three more years at ND. We're also not sure what Tommy Rees would do in a full game this year, and that's also a risk after all of the turnovers last season.
Hey Matt, When will Coach Kelly let Golson learn how to work through his challenges as a starting QB.
Matt Fortuna (2:38 PM)
Lots of Golson questions today, huh? You can't put the player's progress completely above the team's this year, not with 4-0 and a strong BCS-bowl chance ahead.
Robb (Ft. Wayne)
I read somewhere last week, and sorry I can't credit it, I just don't remember, but it was talking about guys like davonte neal and others who are wasting a year of eligibility just to fair catch punts and so on. When a player of that caliber and talent shouldn't be using a year of eligibility if he's not gaining experience as a receiver. What's your thought on this?
Matt Fortuna (2:41 PM)
Robb, there are instances where I think it's premature for some of these guys to waste a year. Romeo Okwara comes to mind. But I don't think Davonte Neal is there. He has the potential to be a serious playmaker, and you can't have any shortage of those when your offense is struggling and you have the potential for a big season.
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.
Hi Matt! Brian Kelly seems much different this year (4-0 will do that). Is the media (or at least you) feeling the same confort/confidence this year that is different than the past couple years?
Matt Fortuna (2:47 PM)
Brian, I think he, like everyone else who takes the HC job at ND, probably had to deal with a lot more than expected. His first two years were no picnic, that's for sure. He seems more at ease, both with us in the media and based on players' comments. Last year no one could go 5 mins without saying "BCS" as a goal, which blew up in their face. This year everyone seems much more reserved, and that seems to suit this group well so far given it's 4-0 start.
Will this be the stage Daniels busts into the role as a go to receiver? It is his hometown and he should be closer to 100% this week. I would love to see him catch 6-7 balls and go over 100 yds.
Matt Fortuna (2:49 PM)
Zach, I wouldn't be surprised. He's the team's leading receiver and he's missed the better part of two games. Pretty neat for him to be taking the same field his old man used to.
What do you make of the rivalry in this game and how do you think the coaches should approach this with the players?
Matt Fortuna (2:50 PM)
Eric, players say they know the history, but it has no impact on this game. Different players, different staffs (even from the 2010 Sun Bowl in Miami's case). It's neat and all for us to talk about, but there's little in it from their end.
Kirk Felfitch (Ann Arbor)
So do you think that the Miami O-Line can keep the dogs off Morris long enough to keep Miami in the game?
Matt Fortuna (2:51 PM)
Kirk, I think that's Miami's only real shot of winning.
Tim (Burlington, VT)
The Inexperience of Everett Golson seemed all too apparent against Michigan. He seemed overcome by the atmosphere of that game. Do you think that's something he can overcome as the year goes on, considering how many big games are left?
Matt Fortuna (2:53 PM)
I do. It was a pretty hostile environment, against him, a week earlier at MSU, and he didn't seem fazed by that at all. I think he'll be fine eventually, ND may just need some more patience. They're lucky to have a guy like Tommy Rees, that's for sure.
Really no reason to be worried about the U? I am not saying Miami is going to win, but your weakness on defense is facing the strength of Miami which looks pretty darn good right now in their passing game.
Matt Fortuna (2:54 PM)
Not my weakness, Josh. But like I said earlier in the chat, the Canes have enough playmakers to put a scare into ND. There's something to be said, too, for a team to win 4 of its first 5 games the way Miami has so far. It could be a fun game.
Aside from one long run against Michigan St., GA3 has been pretty nonexistent lately. I know Miami's D isn't much of anything, but if there's any one plus they might have it's speed to match his. Do you see him getting going this weekend, or will he continue to fade into his third fiddle role behind Wood and Riddick?
Matt Fortuna (2:55 PM)
Ryno, it's just tough to get him touches behind those two guys. You also have to remember that that position now incorporates a receiving threat along with it, and GA3 just isn't up to par yet with the others in that category.
Going into the season I was worried about the lack of experience in the secondary. So far I am happy with how they have played. Is this a tribute to the play of the front 7 or has the secondary progressed?
Matt Fortuna (2:56 PM)
Brett, it's both, along with not facing a passing offense that would be able to exploit any holes yet. You can't ask for much more than what those DBs have given you so far though.
Brian Kelly (South Bend)
I'm so excited about the huge bonus I'll get for winning both the Big Ten AND the ACC Coastal Division this season! Want a piece of that Matty Ice?
Matt Fortuna (2:57 PM)
I'll email you my address, BK. Thanks.
paul (New Mexico)
If Te'o keeps up his excellent play throughout the season what are his chances of hoisting the Heisman Trophy at the end of the day?
Matt Fortuna (3:01 PM)
First Te'o question of the day. Surprising. Anyhow, I think IF -- and that's a big IF because it's so hard on defense -- but IF he keeps this play up and ND continues to win, his name will be up there all season long.
Matt Fortuna (3:01 PM)
That's all from me today, folks. Enjoy the weekend. Safe travels to those of you going to the game.