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 (1:57 PM)
What's going on gang?
What is the biggest thing the Irish need to worry about with this Stanford offense? Haven't seen them since Andrew Luck left.
Matt Fortuna (1:58 PM)
Don, those tight ends. Levine Toilolo is 6-foot-8. Zach Ertz is 6-foot-6. Both go out and get the ball often. Stanford is 10-1 in games Ertz catches a TD. They present a challenge like no other.
Josh (Tampa, FL)
Before the season started many declared NDs schedule the hardest in the country. Hypothetically speaking if ND, Bama, and Oregon all ran the table. Would there be any scenario why Oregon would play in the NC game instead of Notre Dame?
Matt Fortuna (2:01 PM)
Josh, it's tough to say at this point. Oregon hasn't really beaten anyone, but it would, in theory, have beaten USC probably twice and Stanford as well. It's tough to leap teams already slated ahead of you, but, as we saw last week, so much can happen between now and then that a conversation about this through five games is nothing more than fun.
Hi Matt! Early submission for the chat: ND has yet to trail, and has taken pretty good care of the football this season. At some point this year, one or both of those things will not remain true. I think this is the week. How will ND respond if the Cardinal get up early, or ND suffers a three or four turnover performance?
Matt Fortuna (2:04 PM)
If ND turns the ball over three or four times, they will lose. And they didn't take great care of the ball in the first half against Michigan, but they forced 6 TOs themselves. As for trailing? It's pretty remarkable to think that that hasn't happened yet, especially since three of the five games have been fairly close so far. I'm not sure we know how Golson would be leading a comeback, though an early TD deficit is much different from a fourth-quarter drive.
Nick (Austin, TX)
Matt,This is going to be a defensive battle with some pretty solid TE's on both teams. Which TE group do you give the edge to and how, if at all, will the TE play effect the outcome of this game?
Matt Fortuna (2:06 PM)
Nick, Stanford gets the edge there for the simple fact that they have two and ND really has only 1. That being said, no Ty Montgomery is one less threat for the Cardinal offense, something the Irish have lacked to complement Eifert when he is double-teamed.
Steve, Dallas [via mobile]
Alex Anzalone visited Florida last weekend for their huge win against LSU; apparently the ND staff asked him not to comment on his visit. Have you heard anything regarding his visit and your thoughts on him flipping to the Gators?
Matt Fortuna (2:09 PM)
Steve, I have not heard much about his visit, though it's important to note he has not flipped to Florida, he just visited there. Would I be pleased if I were Notre Dame? No, but the trip could end up meaning nothing.
Tom (Mandeville, Jamaica)
Am I wrong in thinking Stanford is pretty much the same team as Michigan State? Inexperience along the offensive line, a first year starter at quarterback, a solid, run-stuffing defense, and an offense that relies almost exclusively on a power running game. The biggest challenge will be limiting their two NFL caliber tight ends, but if ND can keep them in check, I don't see this game being any closer than 2 TDs. Your thoughts?
Matt Fortuna (2:12 PM)
Tom, agree with you across the board minus the last part about 2 TDs. Kudos to ND's offense for taking care of business against Miami, but the unit as a whole has not done much against any solid defenses. Stanford's is better than solid, and while I think the ND defense will deliver as usual, it still needs more than a little bit of help from the offense, which we have yet to see for the most part.
Josh (columbus, ohio)
We all know thetackles will be there every game, so my question for you is this...How many turnovers will Manti Te'o have to create to get the invite to the Heisman Ceremony?
Matt Fortuna (2:15 PM)
Josh, good question. The Honey Badger wasn't even the best cornerback on his team last year, but he made the most game-changing plays on defense and on special teams. Again, this isn't my personal opinion, but a defensive player simply has to put up more than just big numbers to have a real shot at winning and making a dent on the national scene. I'm not sure there's a specific number Te'o would have to hit, but several plays like the ones he made against Michigan -- along with more ND wins -- seems like the best chance of getting an invite to NY.
BShaw (Raleigh, NC)
Hi Matt,First of all, Rest in peace Beano Cook! He will be missed. What weakness do you see in Stanford's defense that the Irish will be able to exploit?
Matt Fortuna (2:17 PM)
Amen, BShaw. And the Cardinal have surprisingly enough have allowed consecutive 100-yard rushers, so I think ND will try to force the issue there early.
BYU comes in there on Oct. 20. Is that game going to be a defensive battle?
Matt Fortuna (2:18 PM)
Why is it that so many people seem surprised by Notre Dame's success this year? They are essentially the same team they were last year, give or take a few players, without the turnovers. Isn't that the main reason for their lack of success last year?
Matt Fortuna (2:20 PM)
Michael, yes, because the team trips over itself more often than not, so it's hard to predict when that will eventually turn around. They had no answer at QB and big secondary issues, too, along with that schedule initially looking much more difficult than it's turned out to be.
Ponzo (Boise, ID)
Matt, lots of buzz about a season that wasn't to be. What are your thoughts on where this Irish team will end up at the end of the season? If they win out do they get a shot at the Title?
Matt Fortuna (2:22 PM)
Probably, but I wouldn't go booking my tix to Miami just yet. This team still has a lot of flaws on offense and faces a number of teams capable of knocking it off. I will go on record as saying I really like their BCS-bowl chances right now.
Manti (South Bend)
Hey Matt. So the first sentence to the Heisman Mission Statement reads: "The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity..."But to me it seems like shredding terrible Big12 defenses is what voters are really looking for. Your thoughts?
Matt Fortuna (2:31 PM)
Sorry guys, connection died out on me for a bit.
Matt Fortuna (2:32 PM)
Manti, you were singing a different tune with us yesterday. But there is some truth to your statement there. (Not taking anything away from Geno Smith or RG3)
Cory (South Bend, IN)
Isn't it a little too early to say the schedule isn't as good as advertised? Michigan and Michigan St. have only lost to top 10 teams. USC and Oklahoma both only have 1 loss. Stanford has only 1 loss. Purdue might make the Rose Bowl. There is still a lot of season left. I think ND is just a better team than people realized.
Matt Fortuna (2:36 PM)
Cory, there's some truth in all of that. I just think people saw USC and Oklahoma, in particular, as national title contenders. That doesn't look to be the case so far, and the B1G as a whole has struggled. But yes, ND, particularly on D, has been better than advertised.
John (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Sitting behind a desk summarizing medical records, I had to jump on and participate! Anyway, ND has tripped and stumbled the last three years with Stanford, a team that, athletically speaking, Notre Dame should usually win (Yes, Luck and the O-Line I get it). A lot of it was inconsistency at QB (Hendrix and Rees, wow what a mess) and not protecting the ball, but really they just out punched and outplayed us. What does ND have to do differently this time to walk away with a convincing "W"? Also, when are we going to see more D. Neal on offense? Loving Toma though!
Matt Fortuna (2:39 PM)
Happy to provide some happiness, John. Stanford is an intimidating team in its machine-like approach. Big, strong guys who punch you in the mouth and don't let up. They don't have Andrew Luck this year, so that helps from ND's end, but the Cardinal are a tough team to beat "convincingly" in the sense that you probably can't just dominate them (unless you're Oregon). And yeah, I can't see Neal stealing time from Toma this year, as Toma has been one of the most reliable targets so far.
Hey Matt, For the past many years watching ND play good teams I always got the sense that if the game wasn't close then ND would get blown out and those were the choices. Do you think this year, given the defense, is the first in a while to have a better chance to blow people out then get beat soundly?
Matt Fortuna (2:42 PM)
Bret, I can't say one way or the other. ND's defense gives them a great chance every game, but the offense hasn't shown much ability to separate from big opponents. Credit for destroying Navy's and Miami's defenses, but neither are, well, good.
Hi Matt! The running back who came in at the end of the Miami game ( cant remember his name) is he expected to see more playing time? He looked good, granted the defense was beat down by then!
Matt Fortuna (2:44 PM)
Reggie, Cam McDaniel. Fans seem to love that guy. He's been great so far. BK spoke about him this week, but the simple fact is there are three very good and more experienced running backs ahead of him.
We saw Golson run a bit for the first time last week. Do you see Kelly taking the training wheels off and letting him play more, or will he stick to designed runs?
Matt Fortuna (2:47 PM)
Neal, it's going to be tough this week. Stanford knocked Rees out of the game last year and is simply punishing defensively. Golson certainly has that dimension, but I wouldn't want to risk him too much this weekend. He also has to do a better job of protecting the ball while he runs, too.
Matt Fortuna (2:48 PM)
Got a few interviews coming up, guys, so I have to run early. Thanks for stopping by. Will have a chatwrap posted on the blog later today. Enjoy the weekend.