- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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We haven't done one of these in a bit. Let's see what's on everyone's mind.
David Hunter from Seattle writes: Well Matt, Like I said after bowl loss, This will be Coach Kelly's last year. If he Doesnt win a BCS Bowl or Title, He will not be coaching. Of all the players, who decomitted or left the Dame since the Bowl game, Aaron Lynch leaving will be missed the most. Not just his play on the field, but recruits like him watching the Dame and thinking about coming to South Bend. I was 17 and watched ND last Title, I don't think in my lifetime will i see them win another unless ND lower it admissions. College fans are going to see more teams like Boise St, Oregon, Baylor, Oklahoma St, Clemson, Houston, Ole Miss, Cincy and Rutgers be in a better positon to win titles than ND.
Matt Fortuna: David, it's not BCS or bust for Brian Kelly this year, barring any unforeseen off-field happenings. Yes, it's a big year with a challenging schedule and lots of question marks at several key positions, but he is not in danger of losing his job yet. I think another eight-win season, while disappointing to the perfectionists, is important in order to show that the program is on stable ground with Kelly leading it. Yes, the loss of Lynch is huge. He is the type of talent who helps you compete for BCS bowls on an annual basis, and yes, you can be sure he's being pointed to by other schools as an example of why a kid from a warm-weather state should stay closer to home and attend a nearby power program. But Kelly isn't losing his job over it.
Pat from Washington, D.C., writes: Hi Matt, in your live chat after Aaron Lynch left, it was mentioned, from a question I believe, that Lynch had more penalty yards than sack yards. Out of curiosity, do you have a list of his penalties? I went through the box scores and was only able to find that he was called for the following:-- offsides vs Pitt-- personal foul vs Purdue-- offsides versus Air Force-- offsides versus Stanford-- offsides versus FSU. There was another off-setting personal foul that was called in the Southern Cal game I believe (box does not list a player but I seem to recall it was him), but other than that, it's not really a remarkable string of penalty calls. Are there penalties that are missing from the box scores?
Matt Fortuna: Pat, I was interested myself and did a quick scan of box scores and the notes I took for each game. Here they are, by my unofficial count: Offside (minus-5) at Pitt, personal foul (minus-15) at Purdue, personal foul (minus-15) and offside (minus-5) vs. Air Force, offside (minus-5) at Stanford and offside (minus-5) vs. FSU. There was also an offsetting conduct penalty against Boston College, but since yards weren't gained or lost, we won't count that for the purposes of this discussion. Also, if you were wondering, his personal foul against Air Force was unattributed in the official stats package from that game, but I wrote down while taking notes during the game that it was him. So I have one more penalty than you. Now, let's add up those loss of yards (minus-50) and subtract them from the sack yards he was responsible for. Notre Dame's official stats from last season credit Lynch with 5.5 sacks for a total of 45 yards. So Lynch did, in fact, have more penalty yards (50) than sack yards (45) last season. However, he also had seven tackles for loss, accounting for 48 yards. That cannot be overlooked, either, so we'll add that to the sack yards, giving him 93 yards. Subtract 50 from that and you've got a net total of 43 yards for which Aaron Lynch was responsible in 2011. Thank you for the massive brain cramp. (Now I know why I wasn't a math major.)
Scott Gerdenich from Mason, Ohio, writes: Which quarterback on Notre Dame's roster right now gives them the best chance at getting back to a BCS bowl game and hopefully the national championship game? I have believed since he commited to Notre Dame Golson will be the man to lead ND back to the top. I was at the spring game and although he had his mistakes and was having trouble playing at a fast pace he was meant to play in Kellys offense he has all the tools for it. Thanks again and go Irish!
Matt Fortuna: A non-Aaron Lynch question! Scott, Everett Golson definitely has all the tools, and we got a glimpse of them Saturday. The key for him is being more consistent every day in practice and establishing command when he walks into the huddle. He has also had trouble handling snaps. Kelly said after the spring game that the numbers didn't mean anything to him because Golson had trouble getting the plays in on time, which would obviously present a bigger problem in a real game. I will say that I don't envy Kelly's position right now, as the fan favorite (the backup, as always) out-performed the incumbent in the only real chance everyone got to see the quarterbacks perform this spring. But there's a lot more to winning the job than one Saturday scrimmage. And the Irish need to be cautious with risk-taking given the turnover plague from a year ago. A repeat of that against this year's schedule would doom them.
DCW from Pittsburgh writes: Why does USF's relative youth matter in Aaron Lynch's departure? Lynch has a lot of ties to USF and people from Florida generally don't like Indiana weather. From a football standpoint, USF did just beat ND, and USF produced JPP [Jason Pierre-Paul]. JPP's college position coach, Kevin Patrick, is still the DE coach at USF. No one likes when a guy like Lynch transfers out- it he had redshirted or scuffled as a freshmen, people wouldn't be so upset. But that's no reason to trash his destination. But, I guess Notre Dame fans will always have that strange inferiority/superiority complex.
Matt Fortuna: Skip Holtz has really laid a couple of haymakers on his alma mater lately, no? Full credit to the Bulls for marching into Notre Dame Stadium last season and coming up with a win. The players on that roster and the students there now currently hold bragging rights over their peers at Notre Dame. But big-picture, Notre Dame is one of the most historic college football programs in the country, if not the most historic. It has the third-most wins all-time. South Florida has not even had a program for 16 years yet and didn't even jump to the FBS level until 2001. Credit USF for the strides it has made in such a short period, but when you take weather and personal situations out of the conversation, it is confusing for many to see an NFL talent who looked like he was on the fast track to success at Notre Dame leave for USF.