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)
Hey everyone. Glad to be back, and even happier to have football to look forward to tomorrow. Let's see what's on everyone's mind.
John (Chicago, IL)
I was wondering if you'd like to retract your statement that Justin Blackmon is the best WR in the draft? I propose a bet, if Blackmon is drafted first, I pay for you and a companion to visit the Jameson Distillery or Guinness brewery, your choice. If Mike is drafted first, you get me a ticket to the ND vs UofM night game played this year.
Matt Fortuna (2:03 PM)
It's funny how these things always change during pre-draft evaluations, isn't it? As tempting as that bet is, I will have to pass, though it is looking like more and more of a possibility that Floyd goes first. Good for him.
Phil (South Bend)
Besides the play from all 4 QB's tomorrow, what position(s) will you be watching closely?
Matt Fortuna (2:07 PM)
Phil, it's got to be the cornerbacks or wide receivers. I think there is definitely some talent at the latter, and it will be difficult to judge with mostly green quarterbacks throwing to them, but it seems as though that rotation has been flexible throughout spring. I'd keep a close eye on Josh Atkinson and Lo Wood in the secondary, as they are likely battling it out for a starting spot.
Ryan Horn (Michigan)
Do you think Sheldon Day will get significant playing time as a Freshman? If so, can we expect him to be better than Nix? Seeing as how Louis didn't play as a Frosh.
Matt Fortuna (2:09 PM)
Ryan, I'd be surprised if Day didn't see the field, but I don't think the transitive line of thinking can be applied here. Just because some players come in better prepared or in better shape than others doesn't mean they have better upsides.
Hey Matt, is there a danger now, of losing Louis Nix? What can B.K and the surrounding coaching staff do to make these defections go away both with commits and players already on the team?
Matt Fortuna (2:16 PM)
Aaron, he's here ... for now. He's in a bit of a different situation. His mother gave birth to his sister last year, his father had a heart attack and he couldn't get down to his home in Jacksonville. That said, the same thing is expected from him every day on the field.
Aaron (bloomington, IL)
Good Day Matt, does the University of Notre Dame need to take some of that money they've got stashed away and build a bio-dome so to speak around the entire campus so we can have warm climate controlled weather all year round and maybe stop some of these de-commits or transfers? They can pump in fresh oxygen like the casino's do also, just a thought.
Matt Fortuna (2:19 PM)
Aaron, great idea, but again, that doesn't always cover the distance from home and help with the academic challenges, though it is one less way to feel homesick, I suppose.
Asaph Schwapp (Notre Dame)
I was recently diagnosed with lymphoma, keep me in your prayers ND family.
Matt Fortuna (2:20 PM)
Absolutely, Asaph. We all are.
Jesse C. (Fort Wayne, IN)
How is USC transfer Amir Carlisle fitting in this Spring, and what can we expect from the Irish running game tomorrow?
Matt Fortuna (2:21 PM)
Jesse, he's been out all spring with an ankle sprain. I think everyone knows what Cierre Wood will bring, and Theo Riddick has looked much improved this spring. I'd expect to see him used in a bunch of different formations, catching short passes and running up the middle.
Phillip (A stadium near you)
Matt, after what has transpired in the last week,doyou see Louis Nix on this football team this coming August?
Matt Fortuna (2:23 PM)
Phillip, tough to say. I wouldn't be surprised either way, but I think ultimately he will stay. One more strong year and he's NFL eligible, ya know?
Everett Golson (Notre Dame, Indiana)
Should I change positions?
Matt Fortuna (2:25 PM)
You shouldn't be thinking that way yet, Everett. You should be focused on being more consistent every day and protecting the football. No one has the speed you have, and your arm ain't too shabby, either.
Dayne Crist (Lawrence, Kansas)
Any word how the running back recruits are doing? Mahone and Russell?
Matt Fortuna (2:26 PM)
Neither are on campus yet, Dayne. How are YOU doing out there?
Where do you think Tommy Rees fits in the QB pecking order?
Matt Fortuna (2:29 PM)
Zolty, right now he's got to be at the top, and no one should be too surprised. Same playbook, etc., and 16 starts under his belt. He should be ahead of the other 3 right now.
Rich (Ann Arbor)
What do you think of Kelly's strategy to wait until the fall before he addresses the shortfalls in his punt return team? Can you name one other Div ! team that doesn't have a special teams coach?
Matt Fortuna (2:31 PM)
Scott Booker's the special teams coordinator. I remember PSU didn't have one recently under the Paterno regime.
Wayne Kerr (South Bend, Indiana)
Could Cierre Wood be a darkhorse Heisman candidate if the Irish can muster say nine wins?
Matt Fortuna (2:34 PM)
Wayne, the Heisman pundit says so, but I believe that's a bit of a stretch. I don't see him carrying the ball enough, quite frankly.
What was Kelly's reasoning for blocking Lynch from going Florida, FSU, and Miami?
Matt Fortuna (2:36 PM)
Aaron, colleague Mark Schlabach reported today that he only asked to be requested to USF, so I'm not sure "blocking" would be the right term here. (It's not like Bo Ryan, etc.): http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/7836041/sources-aaron-lynch-asked-transfer-notre-dame-south-florida
I watched the final UND practice video on YouTube last night, and this team looks hungry, better coached, and must faster than I remember. Are these false impressions? Or are you getting the same sense? I did see Golson put the ball on the ground a few times, as well. That doesn't bode will for him.
Matt Fortuna (2:39 PM)
John, agree on all counts, though you can't make that assessment based off a video produced by the actual school's athletic department. And yes, Golson needs to do a better job of protecting the ball, especially since limiting turnovers are of even more importance following last season.
Wayne Kerr (South Bend, Indiana)
Matt, how does Notre Dame continue to bring in elite talent despite not being successful on the field?
Matt Fortuna (2:42 PM)
Wayne, you can't knock the tradition and, especially, the academics. It would be tough to resist for talented Midwest kids. There's also the religious element. As a NYC Catholic HS grad, I can tell you with no real college football team to rally behind a lot of my friends took to Notre Dame. It has a national appeal that no other schools have, and Kelly and Co. are great recruiters.
Alright, gotta ask. Who do you see as starting QB in the Fall
Matt Fortuna (2:42 PM)
Will stick with my original prediction of Hendrix, but I think Rees is the frontrunner right now.
Brian Kelly has a combined record of 16-11 in the past 2 seasons with ND. If the Irish put forth another barely par season, would there be any danger of coach Kelly's seat heating up? ND has a recent history of canning coaches for not producing. See Willingham, See Weis.
Matt Fortuna (2:43 PM)
Kevin, it's actually 16-10. If they go under .500, then I'd be worried, yes.
Dayne Crist (Lawrence, Kansas)
I'm doing great, Matt. I'm already at the top of the depth chart and I feel more comfortable running Coach Weis' offense. Thanks for asking.
Matt Fortuna (2:44 PM)
Good to hear, Dayne. Wish you well.
Brian Kelly (South Bend, IN)
Do I need to start implementing Bo Ryan type restrictions to stop the madness and keep these guys on campus?
Matt Fortuna (2:45 PM)
Absolutely not, Brian. Have you seen the backlash Bo Ryan took this week, eventually causing him to relent? You can bet every dollar that that would backfire immensely, and other programs would surely use that against ND in recruiting.
Ket (Philly, PA)
Matt, is Davaris Daniels going to come close to filling Floyd's shoes? If not him, who?
Matt Fortuna (2:46 PM)
You can't expect that much from any player in their first year playing, though he has the talent to be a very good receiver. Tyler Eifert is most likely to be moved around like Floyd and fill his role as the top pass-catcher.
Brad Nietz (Toledo, Ohio)
Matt, Over and over again we always talk about the quarterback situation. Its getting a little bit frustrating You cant tell me after 15 practices and a couple years of being in the same system there is not a clear cut favorite it would be so much easier to choose your quarterback and build your program from there, whats your thoughts thanks
Matt Fortuna (2:48 PM)
Brad, as Chuck Martin said, if Tommy won the Heisman last year and came back ready to go then yeah, this would be a lot easier. But that's not the case. There are four QBs, all of whom have talent, and to throw aside three of them after 15 practices with basic teaching isn't going to happen. You need to see how hard each works this offseason on his own, among many other things, before announcing a starter.
Brian Kelly (Zahm Hall)
Is this intervention that I am trying to stage with Justin Tuck going to work or is my best defensive prospect #19 heading to greener pastures?
Matt Fortuna (2:50 PM)
I'd be surprised if he came back, but that's what his mother wants. Momma knows best ...
Dick Trickle (Michigan)
Hey Tuna, have you stopped crying yet since your loss to Michigan last year? That after game interview with you and your dejected face was priceless! Just wait until the thrashing your Irish get this year. Going to be great. But hey, maybe they can start the year out ranked #5 or something.
Matt Fortuna (2:51 PM)
Still haven't understood this one, despite the repeated comments from you. And, uh, they ain't "my" Irish. And they sure as hell aren't started in the top 5.
Justin Blackmon (OK. State Baby)
Thanks for sticking up for me bro! Dinner on me after the Draft- We can even invite Mi. Floyd and get you the exclusive ND scoop.Does ND have a chance to beat OK in Norman or is that just wishful thinking? I think even Rees should'nt have trouble picking apart that defense.
Matt Fortuna (2:53 PM)
There we go! And no, I don't like ND's chances in Norman right now, though that's the middle of the season and a lot can change between now and then.
Two quick ones: Who will be returning punts next year? And, who will be ND's leading receiver next year?
Matt Fortuna (2:54 PM)
My guesses: Theo Riddick and Tyler Eifert.
Chef Salad (Tuna Steak)
The USC-ND rivalry has lost its luster over the years. What will it take to bring it back to being one of the premiere rivalries?
Matt Fortuna (2:55 PM)
When Notre Dame evens it out. Losing nine of 10 to your rival doesn't help ...
With Tyler Eifert used the way I hear he is going to be used this year is there going even be a contest for the John Mackey Award?
Matt Fortuna (2:56 PM)
Jake, I'd say he's the frontrunner right now, yes.
Shem (Twin Cities)
Hey Matt, Great Job as always! What is the biggest take away from tomorrows game all N.D. followers should feel good about?
Matt Fortuna (2:59 PM)
Thanks. The QBs not turning it over would be nice, especially since it's not like they're facing a defense that will be going after their heads.
Matt, Do you think we will ever see a time when spring games take place against other schools? Maybe 4 year contracts with alternating home and home. This way schools can see their athletes compete against other teams and not their own?
Matt Fortuna (2:59 PM)
Rob, Kelly said "no way" when asked about that this week. From fan's and writer's perspectives it would be a lot of fun, though I can understand the concerns head coaches have.
Matt Fortuna (3:00 PM)
That's all from me today everyone. Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy the spring game tomorrow.
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