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 (2:00 PM)
Welcome aboard, all. Big week for Notre Dame players' draft stock, and spring is just around the corner. Let's get to it ...
Justin S. (Fort Wayne, IN)
Do you see the offensive line being as solid as this past years group was?
Matt Fortuna (2:04 PM)
Justin, I certainly think it can be. The entire left side is back, which is big, and if Braxston Cave is healthy and Mike Golic Jr. can fill in at right guard, the only real question mark will be who fills in at right tackle. The group has a chance to be really good.
Ryan (North Canton, Ohio)
Will Davonte Neal play slot receiver or cornerback? I think cornerback would be more of a critical position for Notre Dame moving ahead.
Matt Fortuna (2:07 PM)
Ryan, I think cornerback will be his quickest way on the field, given the holes there at the moment. I also think he has the talent to be a breakout punt returner. That being said, neither position has much margin for error, and it takes a lot for a freshman to come right in and master either.
Matt,Any word on the 5 kids that applied for the extra year? Will we see Cave, Golic and the rest next year on the field at ND stadium?
Matt Fortuna (2:08 PM)
BW, they are likely Cave, Golic, John Goodman, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Jamoris Slaughter and Dan McCarthy.
Adam Breneman is deciding where he'll play football on the ninth. How good of a shot does Notre Dame have at getting him?
Matt Fortuna (2:13 PM)
Joel, it sounds like Penn State is the frontrunner right now, especially after the Nits landed Christian Hackenberg this week. Brenenman's father has said publicly that landing a big QB would play a role in his son's decision.
Happy Friday, Matt!! Do you see anyone making a big impression in this years spring game like Aaron Lynch did last year? If it's not a QB, do you see Hendrix and Golson overstepping Rees? Thanks, Matt! Go Irish!!!
Matt Fortuna (2:18 PM)
Always a Happy Friday, Tim. Like everyone else, I'll be watching the QBs closely that game. I think DaVaris Daniels is a guy to keep an eye on, given the opening at WR. Sheldon Day is a guy I'd watch on the defensive line, as well.
Aaron (Bloomington, IL)
Hey Matt, Gonna be comin up for Blue Gold game in April, I'll need a place to crash, got an open couch?
Matt Fortuna (2:20 PM)
Sorry, Aaron. No can do. Got any football-related questions?
Robert Horner (South Bend)
Matt, Do you think Brian kelly was a little too confident in his system when he arrived on campus, or do you think it is working out to plan?
Matt Fortuna (2:25 PM)
Robert, it's tough to run that system when the QB play is inconsistent. That has got to be the most frustrating part for everyone, Kelly especially, given his reputation as the QB guru. This is a big year to sort out the position and see if they can get their guy moving forward.
Krystal (Raleigh, NC)
I know there is a lot of talk about who should be the starting quarterback going into spring practice and the season, putting that aside who is one player or several players that people should keep an eye on going into spring practice and the beginning of the season.
Matt Fortuna (2:28 PM)
Krystal, who will step up at WR is the next-biggest question on the offense. Justin Ferguson and DaVaris Daniels could be factors there. The secondary is the biggest issue on defense, though I'm also interested to see the development of some of the talented linebackers, particularly Ishaq Williams.
John (Chicago, IL)
Hey Matt. I am trying to understand why Blackmon is considered the best WR in the draft. Don't get me wrong, I believe JB is a great talent and has crazy skills, but is very raw and lacks intangibles such as leadership/mental toughness. Justin Blackmon showboats into the endzone, for example, I forget their opponent but nobody was in 10 yards of JB as he ran for the enzone on the 5 yard line. He was carrying the ball like a loaf of bread and fumbled it through the endzone, resulting in a touchback. Also, the Big12 is possibly the softest/least physical conference of the AQs. Mike is bigger, stronger and faster. Has played against much tougher, more physical defenses overall. Has the mental toughness to overcome great adversity, not only personal issues but injuries as well. Think about it, how many kids would return to ND, not knowing whether they would be eligible to take the field, when they could be a first round draft pick. Everything points to Mike Floyd being the best WR in the draft.What is your opinion? Can you explain why Blackmon is the shoe-in for the first WR taken in the draft?
Matt Fortuna (2:37 PM)
John, appreciate the long question, but I disagree. In addition to being the most talented WR on the board, he does everything you need. Character? Read about his relationship with a young girl named Olivia Hamilton, who was battling cancer. I'll give you the soft Big 12 defenses angle, but that's it. Floyd returned last year before he got in trouble, and he was not going to be a first-round pick last year. Credit to him for battling back from some rough patches and putting himself in a great position this year, but Justin Blackmon is the clear No. 1 WR in this draft.
Ryan (Hanover, PA)
I've heard mixed reviews on D.Daniels. Where do you stand? Can he step in this year?
Matt Fortuna (2:40 PM)
Ryan, I haven't seen him in action but he certainly has the skill set to become a factor this year, given the holes to fill.
QB: any buzz on campus before spring practice about who will be the guy? Also, is there any shot of making a decision (or depth chart) after the spring game?
Matt Fortuna (2:42 PM)
John, Chuck Martin said a few weeks ago that he would love to have a guy emerge during the spring and take it from there, but it's not a must (nor is it likely, given four guys).
How much do think landing Gunner Kiel will help with recruiting WR's and TE's next year?
Matt Fortuna (2:44 PM)
It certainly doesn't hurt, though if he plays this year and plays well, it would be huge.
We all know that Davonte' Neal transferred, but does this affect his status at Notre Dame? Will he still meet all of the academic requirements?
Matt Fortuna (2:45 PM)
Joel, Brian Kelly sounded confident that the academics wouldn't be an issue.
Any word on if the Michigan game will be our night game this fall?
Matt Fortuna (2:47 PM)
Mike, no word yet. But if ND wants to have another night game this year -- and it would seem like a real possibility given how smooth this past year's went -- then you'd have to think Michigan would be the perfect game to do it.
Is it just me, or is Cierre Wood underrated?
Matt Fortuna (2:49 PM)
Kevin, I agree. Jonas Gray got much of the attention last year (and he deserved it) because of his breakout senior campaign, but Wood ran for more than 1,000 yards and is a very good, consistent back to have there. The question is who will step up into the No. 2 role this spring, though there are plenty of options.
Matt, where do you think M. Floyd will be drafted? I am hoping Chicago.
Matt Fortuna (2:52 PM)
Z, that seems like more and more of a possibility following his performance at the Combine. I'm sure he'd enjoy staying in the area as well.
Lets go Heat?
Matt Fortuna (2:53 PM)
Chris (Columbia, SC)
In your magic crystal ball, do you see Kelly trying to implement a two QB system this upcoming season (Kiel or Rees with Golson or Hendrix) or do you see him trying to stick with one?
Matt Fortuna (2:55 PM)
Chris, every coach would ideally like one to emerge and stand out, but it's not always the case, especially with four talented guys battling it out. Given the past year, I just have a hard time seeing one guy break away from the pack early and starting from start to finish. There is still a lot of talent among the reserves, whoever they end up being, and it won't be so easy to slot them into full-time back-up roles.
Ryan (Hanover, PA)
I'm interested to hear the coaching staff's reactions to Greenberry's last minute flip to HOU?
Matt Fortuna (2:56 PM)
You and me both, Ryan. You and me both.
John (Chicago, IL)
Matt, I respectfully disagree. I am not saying he isn't a great guy, a lot of players give back to the community and I think it is great he has a relationship with Olivia. That has nothing to do with the draft though. If you think he is better than Mike, why is that??? Everything on paper points to Michael Floyd. Sure JB had the better senior stats, but lets not forget Justin Blackmon had a Heisman candidate throwing to him, while Mike had Tommy Rees. Sure the game isn't played on paper, but that is how they are evaluated.
Matt Fortuna (2:59 PM)
John, please watch a replay of the Fiesta Bowl.
matt, why bad to lets go heat? gotta show the heat some love right??
Matt Fortuna (3:01 PM)
Never. (And this stems earlier than The Decision -- grew up a Knicks fan, didn't like them then.)
John (Mendham, NJ)
It's not a solid commitment from Neal as of this moment is it? Did I miss something?
Matt Fortuna (3:02 PM)
John, Neal is signed, sealed and delivered. He transferred high schools this week, though, so some wondered if there was an academic reason behind it and if that would jeopardize his eligibility. All would appear to be a go at the moment, though.
Matt Fortuna (3:03 PM)
That's all from me today guys. Thanks for the great turnout. Enjoy the weekend.