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 (2:01 PM)
Greetings everyone. Let's get right to it.
Do you see Theo Riddick playing a bigger role in the offense this weekend? He seems to disappear for games at a time.
Matt Fortuna (2:03 PM)
I'll answer anything from anyone from Manhattan. I think the experiment returning punts went a lot worse than expected, and it clearly bled into his offensive production in Week 1. I think it's been mostly psychological for Riddick at this point, but I do think he is too talented to struggle for this long.
What would it take or how many turnovers would it take for Tommy Rees to get pulled. 9 after 3 games is terrible Dayne only had one.
Matt Fortuna (2:04 PM)
Annnd we have our first QB question. Nate, last week was a huge step for Tommy in not turning it over. I think he quelled whatever QB conversation there may have been for at least one week.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What is the Hardest Team that Notre Dame will face in College Football This Season?
Matt Fortuna (2:06 PM)
Chris, on the remaining schedule it's Stanford, and it's not even close.
austin richardson (memphis TN)
is micheal floyd the best reciever in the ncaa right now? also how good is our recieving core on a scale of 1-10 1 being the worst?
Matt Fortuna (2:07 PM)
Austin, I'm not sure I'd say he was the best, especially after the performance of USC's Robert Woods last week, but he is certainly at that top level. Oct. 22 should be a great showcase for the two of them.
do you think there will be a fight for the qb job next spring between the three qb's
Matt Fortuna (2:08 PM)
Ron, absolutely. It will be an open competition regardless of how the rest of this season plays out.
Is Davaris Daniels playing at all or is he redshirting
Matt Fortuna (2:10 PM)
Nate, I think we'll find out this weekend. Brian Kelly has said he's talked about working him in but it is getting close to that point in the season where the best case may be to save him that year of eligibility.
Matt, IF Ethan Johnson cannot go against AF how much will that affect the defense knowing that for AF the assignments must be spot on? Can the Irish trust Lynch and Tuitt to play assignment specific defense and not make a mistake that could cost yardage or points?
Matt Fortuna (2:13 PM)
Brandon, Air Force is all about waiting for defenders to bite or overpursue and then attack, so it could be interesting if the freshmen ends try to just rush their ways to the backfield.
Do you think Kelly will change the gameplan to pound the ball a majority of the game to try and rest the defense or will we see a balanced offense throughout the game? I don't see us getting a lot of possessions so each one needs to count.
Matt Fortuna (2:14 PM)
Bill, I think the offensive gameplan won't be too different. Air Force does not hold onto the ball that long, despite its unique offense. It scores roughly every eight plays and is nowhere near the top in time of possession.
Seeing as no Notre Dame player is even being talked about as a possible Heisman winner, do you ever see the day when the Heisman goes to the actual players that deserve it, not just offensive players? I believe it has lost its merit lately over the years.
Matt Fortuna (2:16 PM)
Chris, Michael Floyd will get some consideration if the Irish run the table. I personally thought Suh deserved it two years ago, and Tyrann Mathieu is making a strong push this year.
John Szymanski (South Bend)
Hello Matt, Looking ahead to what the irish have left on their schedule, if they win out do you see them going to a BCS game?
Matt Fortuna (2:17 PM)
John, it will depend on what others teams do but yes, I have a hard time seeing a 10-2 ND team being passed over.
Brian M. (New York)
In the beginning of the season it was talked about using a change of pace QB (one of the true run/pass threats- Hendrix or Golson)? Has this plan been scrapped or should we expect them sometime soon?
Matt Fortuna (2:18 PM)
Brian, BK said the following on his radio show last night: ""We're gonna employ a special package with somebody, but I'm not gonna tell you who.It could be Everett Golson, it could be Andrew Hendrix."
Is it possible that the "Special Package" that is supposed to be ran against Air Force is a Wild Cat formation with Theo Riddick ? Or, do you think it's more likely to include Hendrix/Golson as QB?
Matt Fortuna (2:20 PM)
Matthew, I'd lean toward the quarterbacks, as its five weeks in and we've seen neither. I think they still want to get Riddick going as a receiver.
Pete (Steubenville, Ohio)
David Ruffer's inconsistency has been driving me up a wall all season. Is this really the same guy who made 20 straight kicks last year? I'm inclined to think that it's not entirely his fault that he's been off this year. There have been at least two bad snaps to my recollection. And yet the LS and holder are the same from last year...thoughts/explanations on the inconsistency?
Matt Fortuna (2:22 PM)
Pete, it certainly is a bit baffling, but I'd expect him to snap out of it. Things could be interesting this week though if Jordan Cowart can't go.
Please tell me notre dames defense has learned from last years triple option beat down given to us by navy. I dont want to watch that again.
Matt Fortuna (2:23 PM)
Aaron, it bounced back against Army so I think the answer's clearly a yes, but let's not lump all of these offenses into one category. Air Force is a team that likes to run option more than it is an option team, and it keeps defenses on their toes with that threat.
seriously, what is the deal with punt returns?? theo seems like the best option. he muffed those kicks early in the season, but are the coaches no longer even working with him to get better? Goodman is a terrible option, unless they are ok with never returning a punt for positive yardage
Matt Fortuna (2:25 PM)
Joe, it's something they wished to have had settled by Week 6, that's for sure. Theo is still the long-term hope, but they can't afford to sacrifice his offensive production as well. Even Mike Elston said this week they've tried to overcompensate for it -- i.e. calling a block at Pitt -- and it has backfired, resulting in a rough penalty.
Chris (Virginia Beach, VA)
Do you think that Coach Kelly and Coach Diaco have learned their lesson aganist Navy last year and will do a better job to defend the triple option this weekend? Also do you think that Notre Dame's Offensive line can push the Defensive line of Air Force around like they did last week?
Matt Fortuna (2:27 PM)
Yes and yes. Air Force is without two of its better d-lineman and has struggled defensively this season. I think the disparity on that side of the ball is where the difference will really come to light Saturday.
Chicago Sun Times intimated today that Kelly is planning on using Hendrix in a mix-up package. Any indication how early in the game, or in what instance, we might see it?
Matt Fortuna (2:29 PM)
I posted on this last night when Kelly said it on his radio show (http://espn.go.com/blog/notre-dame-football/post/_/id/1215/brian-kelly-radio-show-recap-5). And he didn't specify which QB it would be, either. (Nor did the Sun-Times, to my knowledge). Given that he said this publicly I'd expect it sooner rather than later to keep AF guessing.
Kevin (Ft.Campbell, KY)
When is Gary Grey going to turn his head and look for the ball? At the start of the season I know many people had him as a possible 3rd round draft pick.Having watching him play all year it has been so frustrating seeing passes that could easily have been intercepted especially some key passes in the Michigan game. I know the defense has played great but with teams like USC and Stanford up ahead with great QB play you have to think that they will lock in on Grey after watching his film. I dont know what the coaches are doing about this but it seems to continue to be a problem.
Matt Fortuna (2:31 PM)
Kevin, I don't think he's been as poor as everyone seems to believe, Michigan notwithstanding. One thing that has stood out also is Robert Blanton's extraordinary play, which may make things look worse for Gray than they actually are.
How do I reconcile the thought that, were it not for a few bone-headed turnovers, we'd be ranked in the top 10 right now?
Matt Fortuna (2:32 PM)
Joe, I'm not one to give out advice, so I'll just say there's a good chance they could run the table till Stanford. And if they don't, well, please ask someone else for advice, since I will clearly have been wrong.
Shea McCormick (Baltimore, MD)
Do we see Golson or Hendrix getting action this weekend?
Matt Fortuna (2:33 PM)
A couple of you have asked this. I'm leaning toward Hendrix, since he already has a year saved under his belt. Not sure if they'd want to burn a year of Golson's just for the sake of changing things up in one part of one game.
Matt Fortuna (2:33 PM)
That being said, neither would surprise me. Golson, FWIW, played the role of Air Force QB Tim Jefferson this week in practice.
to go along with nate, do you get the sense that kelly does not respect dayne as a qb that much?
Matt Fortuna (2:35 PM)
Joe, Dayne battled back from two severe knee injuries and several other setbacks. I don't think he's lacking in the respect department. I do think Rees is younger, has more potential and has a better rapport with some of the Irish receivers, namely Michael Floyd.
why are you answering these softball questions? hardest team on the sched? gimme a break
Matt Fortuna (2:37 PM)
I answer them because they're asked of me, Joe. Give me some tougher ones if you're not OK with that.
Arron Lynch looks like he is going to be a beast.
Matt Fortuna (2:38 PM)
Bill, both he and Tuitt certainly do, though Aaron has set the bar higher based on his early performance. I think we'll learn a lot about both this week, at least in the short-term.
if we beat air force do you see us jumping back into the rankings, or will we have to wait for a win over usc?
Matt Fortuna (2:38 PM)
Goose, I want to say wait until a win over USC, but you never know what other teams will do. Outside of the top-10 it's really a crapshoot.
Is last week's ability to hold on to teh football more of a sign to come or just a fantasy come true?
Matt Fortuna (2:39 PM)
JB, it's definitely a good sign. Kelly said there are ways to build off that, and I don't think either of the next two defenses ND will face presents much of a challenge.
joe (south bend)
matt, do you think that notre dame has a football team?
Matt Fortuna (2:40 PM)
Joe, it better, or else I'm out of a job.
Matt Fortuna (2:41 PM)
I have to cut today's chat about 15 minutes short, as I will be heading to the Dan Devine sculpture event. Sorry, but can only take a few more.
Obviously last week ND didn't turn the ball over, but Rees still threw at least two balls (that I can remember) that should have been INTs. Is Rees just a little turnover prone or is this just the normal learning curve of a sophomore QB?
Matt Fortuna (2:42 PM)
Steve, I think it's a little bit of both, as much as he doesn't want to play the sophomore card. It will happen, however, and he has to do a better job of not telegraphing his throws.
ND goes from now until Stanford undefeated ... true or false?
Matt Fortuna (2:43 PM)
I'm tempted to say false, but I really don't see a team left on the schedule outside of USC capable of beating ND at this point, and I don't think ND loses that one.
Southern Irish (Memphis)
Was putting Theo Riddick at WR a mistake?
Matt Fortuna (2:44 PM)
Southern Irish, no. There are two great running backs back there now and Riddick clearly showed last year he is capable of being a very good receiver.
ND should be undefeated. For the fun of it, if they were undefeated, where would they be ranked?
Matt Fortuna (2:46 PM)
Mark, probably 8 or 9. No cupcakes, but no real marquee wins except for maaaybe Michigan, at least not any bigger than those the undefeated teams ahead of them have had.
Chris from Tulsa. Are you saying a player like Kellen Moore doesn't deserve to be in Heisman consideration? Give me a break. No one should get it just for having a Notre Dame jersey.
Matt Fortuna (2:47 PM)
FWIW, Moore would probably have my vote at this point in the season.
i woke up in the middle of the night to ask you this very question: would ND fare better in the ACC or B10?
Matt Fortuna (2:49 PM)
Chet, last one, and only because I admire your dedication. I think ACC, to be honest. If Notre Dame went to the Big Ten it could easily fall into the trap of being just another regional school.
Matt Fortuna (2:52 PM)
That's all from me, folks. Nice chatting with you. Now go out and enjoy this nice weather.