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 (2:03 PM)
Hey folks, I'm coming to you live from Ann Arbor. Fire away!
Jason A. Landy (Washington, D.C. )
Hey whats up Matt, I was just wondering how you think the Notre Dame defense will handle the new Michigan pro style offense. It seems at least from the first game I watched that Michigan is using Denard Robinson in different schemes. He still rushes the ball, but the Michigan offense doesn't nearly depend on him as much as last year. The Big Blue is getting running backs Fitzgerald Toussaint and Michael Shaw and their receivers much more involved. Also the Michigan Defense is much improved i can tell. But, it will be interesting how the Fighting Irish defense, led by Man'tei Teo will adjust under the bright lights of Michigan Stadium, it should be a great game!- Jay
Matt Fortuna (2:12 PM)
Sorry for the delay (ran into a bit of an internet hitch). But Jason, I think Denard remains a threat to rush the football on any given play, despite less designed runs being called. The Wolverines' defense showed big-play capability last week, but they still show a lot of holes. (Alex Carder completed his first 8 passes last week, for instance.)
Who do you think will win this game and why? Rees any good?
Matt Fortuna (2:14 PM)
Jack, I took Notre Dame. As befuddling as last week's performance was, the offense still put up 508 yards and the defense did everything it could given the circumstances. Tommy Rees has shown again and again that he doesn't get fazed by the big stage, and he certainly added some pop to the offense in a relief role last week.
Andy (Ann Arbor, MI)
Will the rain favor ND or Michigan?
Matt Fortuna (2:15 PM)
Aren't both teams used to it by now? Seriously, though, I'd imagine it plays into Notre Dame's hand, as Denard Robinson would be less of a threat on the ground.
Matt, why are we to believe the hype this year? Every year, ND is highly rated, and every year they get exposed. This year, after losing to a Big East team, isn't it time to say that ND was overrated again?
Matt Fortuna (2:17 PM)
I don't think you can say a team was overrated after just one week. And I don't think qualifying the opponent as simply a Big East team is doing USF justice. ND did a lot of what we expected last week, except for those five little turnovers. Lose tomorrow to go to 0-2, and then panic mode will really set in.
Rob (Defiance, OH)
What are the chances Crist is back for a 5th year?
Matt Fortuna (2:20 PM)
Rob, good question. A lot of us reporters were discussing this amongst ourselves this past week. He certainly went into the year expressing the mindset that this was it. That could obviously change now that he's No. 2, though he's still a play away from stepping back into the starting spot. But would a transfer to a smaller-profile school for one more year really surprise me? No.
If Rees turns Notre Dame's season around, does Notre Dame still have a good chance of finding itself in a BCS bowl?
Matt Fortuna (2:23 PM)
That depends what you mean by turn around. The season is very much salveagble (it's ONE game, people) but that starts this Saturday. Based on past performances, Rees seems like the guy to do it.
Whats ur score prediction for the game?
Matt Fortuna (2:24 PM)
I said 31-27 Notre Dame. Denard Robinson will get his, but he won't put up close to the 502 yards of offense he did against the Irish last season. The offense should be much more crisp under Rees.
If this game becomes a shoot out that has to favor Michigan doesn't it?
Matt Fortuna (2:25 PM)
I'm not so certain. A lot of the times shootouts come down to which defense can actually make a stop first when it matters. If that's the case, I like ND's.
Conrad K (Boston )
Would you still consider Notre Dame the favorite in this game? There is nothing apparent that would say Notre Dame is the better team, much less expected to win on the road at night. Thanks
Matt Fortuna (2:27 PM)
This is a tough game to call. There's certainly a lack of clarity around both these teams after Week 1. Michigan didn't even play three quarters; Notre Dame turned it over three times in the red zone. I think it comes down to personnel, which gives the Irish the edge.
whio has the better season texans or lions?
Matt Fortuna (2:28 PM)
Matt Fortuna (2:28 PM)
(If they aren't signing players off the street by the end of the season).
Anthony (Notre Dame )
Hi. I'm a student at Notre Dame and was very upset about the performance last week. What do you expect to see from Notre Dame tomorrow in terms of ball security and limiting turnovers?
Matt Fortuna (2:30 PM)
Anthony, they can't do much worse, that's for sure. But I can't imagine this team shooting itself in the foot again the way it did last week.
All the pressure is on ND here. Kelly is feeling the heat, Hoke is still in the honeymoon stage. I wouldn't want to be Kelly if he starts this overhyped year at 0-2
Matt Fortuna (2:32 PM)
Ron, I don't think anyone would. That said, this stage is the perfect opportunity to wash away all of the bad memories from Week 1 and re-focus on getting some momentum with a new quarterback at the helm.
What kind of game do you see Floyd having? Rees seems to have a good connection with him but Michigan is going to be double teaming him all day....
Matt Fortuna (2:33 PM)
Matt, you may be onto something with the Rees-Floyd connection. Look at the numbers here provided by ESPN Stats & Information (http://espn.go.com/blog/notre-dame-football/post/_/id/350/week-2-did-you-know).
Matt Fortuna (2:34 PM)
I think Floyd will still get his, but ND will definitely need a bigger performance from Theo Riddick, regardless of how much attention Floyd gets.
Will Brian Kelly explode and turn purple again in this game?
Matt Fortuna (2:35 PM)
For ND fans' sakes, you better hope not. Kelly said that was as frustrated as he's been, but he knows the cameras will be keeping an even closer eye on him this weekend.
Brett B (Denver, CO)
Hey Matt, I just graduated from Western Michigan this past spring and know that they aren't exactly a top tier team, but they hung with Michigan for the most part minus the turnovers. I think that if ND can kep their turnovers down, then they have a real good shot a winning this game. I give Michigan a few points for the atmosphere, but they haven't proved anything under Brady Hoke yet. I was wondering if you think that ND can give Michigan a taste of their own medicine by putting in Everett Golson, and will he be effective?
Matt Fortuna (2:37 PM)
Brett, I'm with you. Western Michigan impressed me some last week, as it was able to put together a few substantial drives against Michigan's defense. I'd be surprised to see Golson this soon, given the atmosphere and the fact ND is already using a different quarterback.
Matt Fortuna (2:38 PM)
Also, Dayne Crist will go in if it Rees gets injured, though I realize that's not exactly what you were asking.
Is Michigan more talented than USF? Are we to believe ND will rack up 500+ yards again?
Matt Fortuna (2:40 PM)
Dare I say no to the former and yes to the latter? I do think USF is probably a more complete football team than Michigan, especially on defense. But I can't say I see 500 yards of offense in consecutive weeks.
Really Matt, I know that week was bad, but how does Michigan's defense stop the Irish? They can run it with Wood. If they load the box, Rees has Floyd, Eifert, Riddick, Jones. I don't see this as a contest if ND holds onto the ball.
Matt Fortuna (2:41 PM)
Mark, I certainly think ND has the talent edge. But that's a pretty big if you've got based on last week.
David (New York)
How many strikes does Floyd get? It sets a bad precedent IMHO
Matt Fortuna (2:43 PM)
David, I'd imagine he's on a zero-tolerance policy now. That being said, I think few Irish fans are truly concerned about his off-field behavior after being reminded last week of what he can do.
Will any receivers besides Floyd step up? You know he will get his, but last week the rest look horrible. Do some others like Toma and Daniels get more clock?
Matt Fortuna (2:45 PM)
Tom, I thought Toma would see more action last week, and I think the same going into tomorrow. ND was in a weird situation last week, playing catch-up without knowing if the game could end at any minute.
Matt, watching these teams play the last 5 or so years, ND consistently seems to have the edge talent wise yet continues to find ways to lose to UM. Do you think there could be a psychological factor at this point in the series?
Matt Fortuna (2:48 PM)
Tommy, you're right about the last two matchups, but I doubt it. Notre Dame was in just its second game under Brian Kelly last season, and no one fully understood what Denard was capable of. Tommy Rees will be the third different ND QB to start against UM in as many years, so I don't think there's a big worry about the year before.
Mike D (Ann Arbor)
Matt. Precision passing of ND beats the Mich Defense which is still in rebuilding stages. ND defense does just enough to win. Assuming ND hangs on to the ball. Agree?
Matt Fortuna (2:49 PM)
I agree, Mike. I agree.
What's the biggest/most common issue you come up with on a daily basis as it relates to comliance in your job?
Matt Fortuna (2:50 PM)
Terry, resisting all of the free benefits people offer me while I see others on campus wearing my jersey number. Wait, wrong job ...
Manti (South Bend)
I can't wait to get my hands on shoelaces.
Matt Fortuna (2:51 PM)
Manti, you'll need to get your hands on more than that if you want to bring him down.
Dan (Oxford, OH)
Hey my man, is Coach Diaco looking to play 5-6 D-lineman like he did last week? I felt like the fresh players like Nix, Lewis and Tuitt rotating in and out really helped us win the battle in the trenches defensively.
Matt Fortuna (2:51 PM)
Dan, that's something I would look for, especially to keep the starters fresh against a threat like Denard in the backfield.
Matt, I'm not a N.D. or Mich 'hater' but why are we even talking about this game when neither team is in the top 25. A few facts worth considering....N.D. hasn't finished in the top 10 since 1993!! And in the last 10 years they've only finished in the top 25 four times. Since Holtz left they are 2-7 in bowl games and don't even have a 60% winning percentage.I know that both schools are 'traditional' powers, but its been a LONG time since they've done anything worth mentioning, other than hiring and firing coaches like its going out of style, and certainly nothing to actually add to their 'tradition.' I think its well past time to make them do someting on the field rather than riding the coattails of players and coaches long since gone.
Matt Fortuna (2:53 PM)
Bill, these are the two winningest programs, percentage-wise, in FBS history. It will always matter when they square off. And I've heard something about a night game in Ann Arbor this weekend ...
michael (davis, ca)
Matt, any reason why Kelly didnt do more to restore some guys confidence, like Riddick, by calling some simple bubble screens to get the ball in his hands and allow him to make a play
Matt Fortuna (2:54 PM)
Michael, the circumstances of last week's game didn't allow for confidence-restoring. ND needed to score fast, and the best way to do so was by going to Floyd.
What do you think was up with Riddick last week? Nerves? Trying to do too much? If he plays to his capability then ND has a much better chance this week.
Matt Fortuna (2:56 PM)
Steve, I'd imagine it's nerves, yeah. Kelly has repeatedly said he's the best guy to return punts and will be forced out there every weekend. And the staff has raved about him at practice. The key for him is making sure a bad play on special teams doesn't carry over to offense.
If the Irish win this game do they get back into the rankings? Or will voters hold of until after the MSU game?
Matt Fortuna (2:59 PM)
Matt, since when does anyone in Boise put any stock into rankings? It will depend on margin of victory and how a number of other ranked teams do, but I'd be surprised to see them back in with a simple win.
Matt Fortuna (2:59 PM)
I have a time for a few more ...
Phil (South Bend)
Could you ask Bill if these teams are so irrelevant, why he is taking the time to join an ND/Michigan chat?
Matt Fortuna (3:01 PM)
Bill, Phil has a question for you ...
Is it just me or is it funny that Bill from Omaha took the time to look up all those facts, write out that long question, and still asks why this game doesn't matter?
Matt Fortuna (3:01 PM)
Bill's really not making a good first impression in these chats ...
Notre Dame has not, is jot, and will not be relevant in major college football in recent historymor near future. Try winning some games!
Matt Fortuna (3:02 PM)
You should reach out to Bill.
Anthony (New York)
How much of last week's sloppy play do you put on Coach Kelly? Aren't turnovers, numerous penalties (many of which were personal fouls), and poor special teams (missed FG, bad punting, bad punt coverage, 2 muffed punts) indicative of a poorly prepared team?
Matt Fortuna (3:03 PM)
A non-Bill question! Anthony, Kelly said after Saturday's game that mistakes like those come down to poor coaching, yes. I think the jitters of the first game for some players in new positions (Theo) may have played a factor as well. How much a team improves from Week 1 to Week 2 is often a good indicator of coaching as well.
Matt Fortuna (3:04 PM)
Welcome back, Bill.
Dan (Oxford, OH)
Matt, one more question boss...do you feel that Notre Dame will try to throw the ball down field more than they did last week? I was at the USF nightmare and not one time in the first half did we attempt to go deep to Mike or Theo or anyone for that matter. We have the huge potential to be a big play offense and we didn't even give ourselves a chance. So you think we try and take advantage of the secondary or still try and march the ball
Matt Fortuna (3:05 PM)
Dan, thanks for making me feel empowered by calling me "boss." But yes, I would be surprised if this team doesn't take some chances with Floyd against Michigan's still-suspect secondary. Playing with a lead would be a nice change-of-pace for them as well.
FYI, that "touche" comment was NOT from me!! It was someone else putting my name and location in their post!
Matt Fortuna (3:06 PM)
We have an impostor on our hands!
Matt: Over/Under 100 yards for Wood against Michigan?
Matt Fortuna (3:07 PM)
Troy, I go over. He did so last week and should in theory get many more chances this week, assuming the team can threaten with the run in the second half.
It was said this week that when Rees was a bit dazed by a late hit, that Golson was the guy going for his helmet. Do you think Crist really is the #2 as you stated earlier in teh chat? I can't personally see this, as I don't believe he could handle being put back in, as his confidence is obviously at a all time low... and it wasn't great to begin with.
Matt Fortuna (3:09 PM)
Step, we asked Charley Molnar and Brian Kelly about that this week and they essentially said he was just eager to get on the field. Kelly said twice this week that Crist is his No. 2. He's overcome a lot mentally as well as physically these last two years, so I'd be surprised if he shrunk from the challenge.
Matt Fortuna (3:10 PM)
That's all from me, folks. Gonna try to grab a bite at Maize and Blue sometime this week and see what all the fuss is about. Thanks for stopping by.