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 (2:01 PM)
Greetings, all. Thanks for stopping by this week's edition of the Notre Dame chat. Fire away ...
Will Deeds (Panajachel, Guatemala)
Hey Matt...love the chats...I'm an underclassman checking in from Guatemala. Do you see Golson taking the next step in his progression this offseason? What kind of season do you see from him next year? I'm sure it helps to have Keil in the wings pushing him to get better.
Matt Fortuna (2:03 PM)
Wow, that's quite a trip, Will. Yeah, I think Golson will only get better from here. The staff sounded relatively pleased with how he handled the title game (relative to the rest of the team, at least) and he made great strides even from Week 1 to the end of the year. And yes, I would think having Kiel and other talents back there would only help, and, like always with Brian Kelly, I won't be surprised if more than one guy plays next QB next year.
Charlie (Marlton, NJ)
Folston went on a visit to Auburn, and there was an article published after saying that the visit actually made him more confident about his choosing ND. Now a few days later there's another article saying he's struggling. Chances he'll flip?
Matt Fortuna (2:05 PM)
Charlie, based on colleague Corey Long's article, which is on Insider (http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/ncfrecruiting/southeast/post/_/id/15685/recruiting-complicated-for-ath-folston), it seems like Folston is really struggling with this decision and won't know for certain until the afternoon of signing day.
Tom (Louisville, KY)
Good afternoon Matt, I was wondering if you think we will get any new commitments in this recruiting cycle? Also what is signing day like for you, do you have a routine or is it just an all day grind? Thanks and have a great day.
Matt Fortuna (2:07 PM)
Thanks, Tom. I'd be surprised if ND didn't add another body or two in the next week, be it Vanderdoes, Fitts or even shoring up loose ends with Folston. As for signing day, we have tons of recruiting writes who do a lot of the heavy lifting, but I'll be in touch with them throughout the day and will be on campus for Brian Kelly's press conference, as he talks about the new additions to his program and takes questions about them from us.
Charlie (Marlton, NJ)
Hey Tuna! Kelly admitted that he handled the Eagles situation poorly. Perhaps he says that because had he made a statement before or during his vacation that Anzalone wouldn't have defected?
Matt Fortuna (2:09 PM)
Charlie, anytime there is tangible damage from a situation -- say, a top-flight recruit de-committing over said situation -- a coach doesn't have much choice but to realize what he did hurt his team in one form or another. All things considered, ND is probably lucky that's all it lost over that week.
paul (pgh pa)
how will the new recruiting rules affect Notre dame? will Notre damehire a full time recruiting coordinator thus havingt Alford return to full time coaching?
Matt Fortuna (2:11 PM)
Paul, Alford is still a full-time coach, the way Chuck Martin was beforehand when he was handling recruiting coordinator duties as well. They can't add another full-time assistant.
Manti has shamed us all. Don't you think his stock drops even if he wasn't part of the hoax just because of ignorance? If he can't handle himself in a college setting how will he do in the pros?
Matt Fortuna (2:12 PM)
Skip, explain to me how a 22-year-old college kid's naivety affects/shames you or anyone else other than his family and close friends.
Krystal (North Carolina)
Hey Matt, with Spring Ball starting up in about a month or two, what are some of the things that the coaching staff will be focusing on to better improve the team for the summer and fall.
Matt Fortuna (2:14 PM)
Krystal, special teams is an area that just hassss to improve after these last couple of seasons. I'm curious to see how/if Amir Carlisle fits into the picture there.
Mitch (New York, New York)
What's a realistic record for next year? Who do you think will have a break out season? Do you see the offense moving towards more of a spread passing offense or will it be more run dominated?
Matt Fortuna (2:22 PM)
Mitch, I'm going to stay away from that for now since I and everyone else was way off this past season. I want to see what George Atkinson III can do with more carries, what Everett Golson can do with another year under his belt and what the talented D-linemen can do now that they're no longer under the radar. I also think we'll see the playbook open up much more.
Yopper (Iowa City)
I was wondering if you think the result of this years BCS national championship game will have an effect on ND's status next year?For example let's say ND does run the table again and say a team like Oredon is also undefeated as well and Bama has one loss but won the SEC title. Do you think there would be a chance that ND would be passed over by Bama because of the result of this year's game and the dominance of the SEC or do you think the fact that they ran the table would still earn them a spot? Love the blog Matt keep up the good work
Matt Fortuna (2:24 PM)
Appreciate the kind words. Good question. A lot will probably depend on how the season goes for both teams, but I have a hard time seeing the SEC title-game winner not getting into the BCS title game at the end of the day. There's just too much history and evidence to support that conference's dominance the past seven years. That said, a three-team race featuring two undefeated non-SEC teams and a one-loss SEC team would be very interesting. And is why I can't wait for a playoff in 2 years.
Thomas (Gas City, IN)
Matt I love your coverage. When I come up for the spring game, or my anual trip up for a home game next season, what changes, if any, should a prepare myself to see inside ND stadium? Any insider info into jumbotron, field turf...?
Matt Fortuna (2:27 PM)
Thanks Thomas. While down in Florida I asked AD Jack Swarbrick about the surface and he said he doesn't think there will be any changes. That would mean, at the very least, five more years of this surface, since ND Stadium replaces it every five years and this past season was the last of this five-year cycle. Going off that, I'd be surprised if a Jumbotron was there next year.
Tom (Barrington, IL)
Matt, let's hear your predictions for ND's starting 11 against Temple. Starting kickoff coverage, that is.
Matt Fortuna (2:28 PM)
Will get back to you Aug. 30 ...
Matt not a question just a statement. Manti Teo is everything Notre Dame stands for. We will be lucky to ever have another one like him.
Tuna - I truly belive we'll miss Eifert much more than Te'o next year. While Te'o was the undisputed leader and deserving of a 1st round pick, I feel like he greatly benefitted from Diaco's scheme. With Nix and Tuitt occupying two blockers and Danny Spond setting the edge, I feel like Te'o was the direct benefactor and his production is more easily replaceable than Eifert, who created huge matchup problems for opposing defense. What do you think?
Matt Fortuna (2:30 PM)
Clifford, yes and no. Considering the number of bodies and recruits coming back to a very good defense, I can see why the loss of Te'o wouldn't hurt as much. That said, his leadership is not easy to replace. In terms of simply production and value on the field, though, I can see how Eifert is more indispensable. We don't know much about his backups yet, and he was a constant threat every single time he was on the field, a great weapon for a young QB to have at his disposal.
I've been trying to stay current on all the recruiting, and I think I've been doing a good job. But can you clarify a couple points.1)When are 5th year seniors officially offered their 5th year. I.e. is it now, or say after Spring ball?2)If, against all odds, we manage to pick up Vanderdoes, Fitts, and Hollins, will any 5th year seniors then be denied?3)Lastly, will Kelly really want Slaughter to be granted his 6th season, if we land so many new recruits?
Matt Fortuna (2:33 PM)
Patrick, the process is ridiculously thorough and stretched out. I don't know if Dan Fox, Chris Watt, etc., have been told by the staff that they are wanted back, but they are back in school this semester. After recruiting is done and ND plays its numbers game, Brian Kelly said Tuesday, then the staff officially invites these guys back and sends them through the faculty board of athletics, who then approves it all. We didn't find out for certain about last year's fifth-year guys until the opening of spring ball. I doubt a recruit will bump one of the fifth-year guys out of the picture, given the message it would send and given the loss of a proven veteran player. The Slaughter question is an interesting one to look at, but I would imagine ND would gladly welcome him back if he is cleared.
Matt with all the talent coming back next year, who are the guy's that will surprise us on offense/defense when they get their shot to play? Thanks.
Matt Fortuna (2:38 PM)
Tom, I said earlier, but I'm really curious to see how Amir Carlisle fares, in addition to Golson's development. Defensively, I think Sheldon Day could surprise a lot of people when he gets extended playing time, and I want to see how the secondary plays with so many more experienced bodies back there next year.
Tuna - I know we caught some breaks this year, but if we can get by Michigan the schedule seems somewhat favorable with Oklahoma and USC replacing their QBs. What do you think about the November 30th trip to Palo Alto as a de facto semifinal with the other semifinal the SEC Championship?
Matt Fortuna (2:41 PM)
Clifford, on the surface it looks plausible, yes, but like you said, between breaks, everyone filling big shoes perfectly, communication, leadership, health and 18 other things ... a lot needs to go right for ND, or anyone, to run the table, especially two years in a row, as the Irish will have an even bigger target on their backs now. Even Bama, which looked other-wordly against ND, couldn't run the table these last three years. At this time last year we were pegging the USC finale as a play-in game for the Irish, and we were way off on that one. So yes, plausible on paper, but it's a long time from now and a lot can happen in-between.
Matt thanks for chat, I was wondering what Coach Kelly is like in person. Thanks again and Go IRISH!
Matt Fortuna (2:46 PM)
Ha, random question. He's very engaging. A lot more than most college football coaches. You can tell he has the political background. And most of the time he at least pretends that he actually cares what we have to say or ask, unlike most football coaches.
Thomas (Gas City, IN)
Matt one more quick one from me today, I have wachted Luke Messa the last few years transition from QB to special teams guy and trying to work into WR rotation. He seems big and fast and athletic, very similar to a Dan Smith and even Eifert. What role do you see him in this coming year and what do you think his potential really is for this team? I would like to see him get a chance to make some more plays on offense.
Matt Fortuna (2:48 PM)
Thomas, a lot depends on his health, as he tore an ACL last spring. A lot of it also comes down to consistency day-to-day, and stepping up when your number is called. But there are several receivers coming back and a number of commits on the way, so I would be surprised if he got a lot of time.
Tuna - assuming all verbals sign next Friday, who do you expect to have the most significant impact next year? Everyone will say Jaylon Smith, but I see him having a little trouble getting on the field with Danny Spond coming back and I would argue Greg Bryant will be that guy.
Matt Fortuna (2:49 PM)
Clifford, Jaylon Smith is the biggest get of this class, no doubt, but as I said in a previous chat, I can see Greg Bryant eventually taking over the No. 1 RB duties by the end of the year. He seems to have all the tools to step right in and succeed, and there will likely be opportunity there given the number of unproven bodies in the backfield.
Brody Earlybrown (Fort Wayne, IN)
Do you think there's any chance my Bears end up with Te'o or Eifert? I'd love to have either as both would come in at positions of need!
Matt Fortuna (2:54 PM)
Brody, I'm not Mel Kiper or Todd McShay, but I can easily see either of them being there for the taking, and I can easily see the Bears taking either. I hope that helps.
Matt Fortuna (2:56 PM)
Have time for a few more, guys ...
Charlie (Marlton, NJ)
Now that he has a year under his belt, how much further do you think Golson will progress in spring/summer going into next season?
Matt Fortuna (2:58 PM)
Charlie, I think Goslon, having shaken off all of the cobwebs, will be much more effective. He knows how to communicate with his offensive line and with his receivers much better, and he knows the expectations from the staff. He also doesn't get fazed in big moments, either. Assuming the competition is open this spring and in camp, I think the push from Kiel and others will only benefit him moving forward.
Ryan (Williamsport, PA)
What do you think are the chances Greg Bryant grabs the starting job? From what i've seen the last year, it doesn't look like GA3 is ready to be an every down back, and Cam didn't get very many touches, but looked good when he got a chance.
Matt Fortuna (3:01 PM)
Ryan, as I said before, I think he has a good chance. GA3 certainly has the inside track, but like you said, we don't know how he can handle that big of a workload just yet. Amir Carlisle will figure into the picture, too, as well as McDaniel and William Mahone. Lots of bodies, not a whole lot of experience. I do wonder if ND will be as liberal with its position switches this year given the depth it has in some spots. McDaniel, after all, was used on both sides of the ball last offseason.
Matt Fortuna (3:02 PM)
That's all from me today, guys. Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy the weekend. (And that little game Sunday.)