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 (1:59 PM)
Greetings, all. Lots to chat about today, so let's get right to it.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Even though you Cover Notre Dame Football,What is your Favorite MLB Team?
Matt Fortuna (2:01 PM)
A softball early. Chris, I grew up in New York rooting for the Yankees. It was the first team I came across while flipping through the channels as a youngster.
Matt Fortuna (2:02 PM)
(A Yankees fan who covers Notre Dame. There's a joke to be made there somewhere, I'm sure.)
Matt, will greenberry play a big role his freshman season and who will be starting at both safety spots next year? zeke and slaughter?
Matt Fortuna (2:05 PM)
Matt, I certainly think he has a chance. Notre Dame will obviously have a hole at receiver without Michael Floyd, and if Theo Riddick stays in the backfield, playing time could really be up for the taking. As for safety, I think Slaughter's a lock to start somewhere (assuming he returns, and I see no reason why he shouldn't). Motta will definitely see a lot of playing time as well, as he will be the only other member of the secondary with experience. Whether that's in a starting role or splitting some time again with Slaughter remains to be seen.
Do you think this would be an up or down year for the fighting irish?
Matt Fortuna (2:08 PM)
Harry, a bit of a vague question there. If you're asking for my preseason expectations, then I thought the BCS talk may have been a bit premature. That being said, this team is a few crazy turnovers away from being in the BCS-bowl picture, so talent-wise I think they were what they expected to be. (Which makes this campaign tougher to swallow if you're an ND fan.)
Kevin (Greenfield, IN)
Do you think Florida St. will be hell-bent on proving a point to the nation?, or is Brian Kelly's ability to prep for these big games sufficient enough to equalize, and/or eliminate any advantage the Seminoles' athleticism provides?Eager to see If the Irish come out swingin', as they did last year, when they forced "The U" to fold like lawn chairs. (Though had there been a 5th quarter in that game, Miami might've pulled it out. Thank you Mitch Mustain.... I mean, Jacory Harris)Thank You, Sir.
Matt Fortuna (2:11 PM)
Kevin, either team could be hell-bent on proving something, by that logic. The Seminoles probably have a few more playmakers and a decided edge on special teams. They are a much better team than the Miami one ND faced a year ago.
bill p ND'74 (kandahar afghanistan UA ARMY)
With all the talent notre dame recruits, i am amazed that the IRISH have been irrelevent in college football for 20+years. Any idea as to how they fix that? A new coach [whoever it is] has not seemed to help. And Lou and Ara cannot come back to help us out.
Matt Fortuna (2:15 PM)
Bill, thanks for all that you do for our country. I think irrelevant is being harsh, though I can understand the frustration from an alum's standpoint. ND could have been the national champ in 1993 and was a BCS-bowl team in 2005 and 2006. I like what Kelly has established on the defensive side of recruiting and would point to that as a big difference from the previous regime, a reason to be optimistic moving forward. As for the quarterback situation ...
Christopher Joseph (South Bend IN)
What are the chances the Irish land Gunnar Kiel?
Matt Fortuna (2:18 PM)
Christopher, Jared Shanker handles Midwest recruiting for us, and he wrote yesterday that all indications are that Notre Dame is in the lead. It certainly sounds that way, but I wouldn't count out Vanderbilt at all at this point.
are we still on grass next season?
Matt Fortuna (2:20 PM)
I would think so, but I'm lying if I say I truly know at this point. From my understanding, that would be a bigger roadblock than a Jumbotron among the traditionalists.
Chris (Raleigh, NC)
Hey Matt,RB Keith Marshall seemed to suddenly drop ND from consideration about a week before his announcement. Was there ever a stated reason as to why? I had thought it would come down to an ND/UGA battle with sort of a head v. heart theme but at the end it was really Clemson & UGA.
Matt Fortuna (2:22 PM)
Chris, I got the impression that Georgia was the team to beat all along, but an 0-2 start threw Mark Richt's job security -- and therefore the Bulldogs' prospects -- into question. Winning 10 straight shored up those loose ends, and I think ultimately led Marshall back to Athens.
What kind of incriminating pictures of Kelly does Rees have?
Matt Fortuna (2:25 PM)
Easy there, James. The offense is on the same page with Rees, he has a 12-3 record as a starter and you risk throwing the situation into even more disarray by taking the car keys away from Rees for the bowl game. Yes, Hendrix has a skill-set that Rees doesn't, but he has a long way to go as well and should get a fair shake against Florida State.
Kris (Detroit, MI)
So, will the Champs Sports Bowl be another opportunity for us to revisit the possibility of the Irish joining the ACC?
Matt Fortuna (2:27 PM)
What?! IRISH?! ACC?!? WHEN ?!?!
Josh (columbus, ohio)
What are your opinions on how the coaching staff will fill out after the bowl game?
Matt Fortuna (2:28 PM)
Josh, Brian Kelly made it sound on his radio show like he would wait until after signing day to make any changes. I think the best bet is to promote Ed Warinner, who has experience there. I don't know if Kelly needs to make a big-name hire when he does most of the play-calling anyway.
Chad Sommers (Columbus, Oh)
Do you think Andrew Hendrix should be the starting QB for the Irish?
Matt Fortuna (2:30 PM)
Chad, too early to tell, especially with Golson (and maybe Kiel?) in the mix. It will be one wild offseason, that's for sure.
I know that everyone makes a big deal of the tough schedule we have next year but if you look at it both USC and Oklahoma will be having new QBs also. Does this make it any easier knowing they might be having QB troubles too?
Matt Fortuna (2:30 PM)
Nate, I doubt it. When's the last time either of those teams had any trouble at the QB spot?
Now that Manti has announced he's coming back for his senior year, if we have Eifert coming back I can't help but be optimistic about 2012. How do you see the bowl shaping out, more teaching for the younger kids or will it be a fight for 4 quarters with all our starters getting the reps?
Matt Fortuna (2:35 PM)
Chris, if I'm a betting man I say Eifert stays. Both would be big for next year. ND wants to win its bowl, but I wouldn't be surprised if a few wrinkles were thrown in there with some of the younger guys. I expect to see plenty of Hendrix, too.
Brian (Atlanta, GA)
1. How long do you leave Tommy in the bowl game if he cant get it done?2. Is Andrew really as good as he looks?3. How many years do you give Kelly if hes not BCS bound soon?
Matt Fortuna (2:37 PM)
Loaded question there, Brian. 1) I'm interested to see how ND starts. If they score two TDs on Tommy's first two drives do you keep him to ride the momentum, or do you feel comfortable and then see what Hendrix can do with a lead? 2) Hendrix has a lot to learn, as he will be the first to tell you. But the potential is certainly there and his size and cannon for an arm are certainly tools any coach would covet. 3) Too tough to say right now, though I think any questions about his job security are very premature.
Do you see T.J. Jones stepping up more next year as we try and establish a hole left in Floyd or do we become more of a running team with a mobile qb and Cierre Wood in the backfield?
Matt Fortuna (2:40 PM)
Chris, T.J. has been a very solid player and is tough as nails, but I don't see him turning into a Michael Floyd-like WR. He just doesn't have the size to create mismatches the way Floyd did. I don't think Notre Dame will rely on its RBs any more than it did this year without Floyd, though.
Phil F (Washingtonville NY)
The Irish will have another very solid recruit class for 2012. And possibly a log jam of top talent QB's - Kiel. A bowl win VS FSU will just add to it. Even with the uncertain future of who will be under center next season I'm thinking the Irish have a good chance of being a top 10 pre season team for the 2012 season especially with a bowl victory. Is that completely unrealistic.
Matt Fortuna (2:42 PM)
Phil, I would say never say never in relation to what happens on the field. But going off your question -- preseason -- which is based entirely on voters' guesses, I think top-10 is unrealistic. Too many question marks at QB, WR and in the secondary, not to mention that vaunted schedule.
Do you think getting Manti back is a bigger deal because of his talent, or because of the leadership he will bring being a veteran among a young defense.
Matt Fortuna (2:44 PM)
Aaron, both. He's a game-changer in the middle when healthy. But yes, his leadership is incredibly valuable, especially among a young unit. Just the comments he has made about coming back have blown me away. Unreal perspective for a college junior.
Sumitrom (North America)
Matt, what is your feelings about the BCS at this point? I personally am pro playoff or a plus 1. Do you think that FSU would have played for the NC in 1993 over ND had they had the current BCS system? Would either team have played for it that year considering there were other teams with better records?
Matt Fortuna (2:46 PM)
Playoff. No question. A plus-one is a strong step in that direction, so I'm hoping for that. As for 1993, who does rematches of 1 vs 2 games? C'mon ...
Next year's team is not getting the hype or expectations this years team got, for obvious reasons...but does that mean without such a heavy pressure on Notre Dame for next year do you think this could work in their favor and maybe they surprise the hell out of us next year?
Matt Fortuna (2:48 PM)
Jamie, it certainly couldn't hurt. I don't know if there are direct correlations between feeling mounting expectations and turning the ball over 10 times over the first two games, but I'd imagine life is a little easier going into next season, so long as whoever the starting quarterback is doesn't feel like he's looking over his shoulder half the time.
alright MATT, lets get right to it: who do you think will win the champs sports bowl?
Matt Fortuna (2:49 PM)
OK JOE: Leaning toward Notre Dame at the moment, but my official prediction won't come until the week of the game.
Its ok Matt.. Im a diehard yanks and Domers fan...it is what it is
Matt Fortuna (2:50 PM)
If you also like the Cowboys and Lakers, you are hereby banned from this chat. (I literally had a friend in high school who rooted for all of those teams. Give me a break.)
In what situations do you see Andrew Hendrix playing in the bowl game? Will he still be "the package guy" or will he have more of the offense at his disposal?
Matt Fortuna (2:53 PM)
I think he will have a lot, if not all, of the offense available. A lot of the packages he had in the regular-season were team-specific. I think going into this game the coaches want to give Hendrix as real/full of a game experience as possible to build off.
Did you get the chance to go to the ND/Army game at Yankee stadium?
Matt Fortuna (2:53 PM)
Bob, I did not. Heard it was awesome, though, and it certainly looked neat.
Notre Dame v.s Stanford in China? Such an awful idea don't you think?
Matt Fortuna (2:54 PM)
Jason, I'm not really sure how I feel about it at the moment, but I wouldn't say awful.
Anthony (New York, NY)
Do you agree with the way Kelly has handled the QB situation this year? I have a difficult time understanding why Kelly felt comfortable enough to give Hendrix packages against USC and Stanford (Hendrix was set to play even before Rees got banged up) yet didn't give him any reps in the Purdue, Maryland or Navy blowouts. Also, Hendrix's fine performance against a good Stanford makes you wonder why Kelly was so insistent that Rees was their best option this year.
Matt Fortuna (2:56 PM)
Anthony, I do think Hendrix deserved more time against the ACC slate Notre Dame faced this season. I can see why he didn't go in against BC, as taking Rees out in a close game would only fuel the fire, but I definitely expected more action for the sophomore before the Stanford game.
Jesus (Houston, TX )
With college football being a results now environment, how many years do you think is fair to give Brian Kelly to deliver BCS type results?
Matt Fortuna (3:00 PM)
Does ND really want to play that card after the Weis extension? I think you have to look closely at things besides results before anointing someone a success or failure immediately. Yes, several big-name coaches have won titles in their second years, but I don't think you can judge every big program hire by that curve.
Matt Fortuna (3:02 PM)
Out of time for today, guys, but I see there are plenty more questions. Thanks for the readership, and please submit them to my mailbag or email me at MattFortunaESPN@gmail.com. I'm hoping to get a mailbag up soon. Thanks!