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. Busy week: Helmets, QBs, relevance and the like. Fire away!
Ryan (Dover, NH)
Matt, how do you feel about Notre Dame's young wide reciever corps a.k.a Davonte, Justin, Chris, and Davaris? Who do you think will redshirt and who do you believe will contribute as a solid backup or to overtake a starting spot?
Matt Fortuna (2:03 PM)
Ryan, all have looked very good so far, and all spoke very well when we got to chat with them Monday. I'd expect all to see action this season, with Davonte Neal seeing the most playing time, as looks to be the No. 2 slot guy and a potential factor on special teams.
Matt (New York)
Realistically, with Rees not traveling to Dublin for Navy, is it possible that after two games (assuming one younger QB excels enough), that Brian Kelly could be comfortable starting one of those younger guys against MSU?
Matt Fortuna (2:06 PM)
Matt from New York? Matt from New York: I think it is entirely possible. Navy and Purdue are two of the more ideal opponents on this schedule to break a new QB in. If the starter excels in Weeks 1 and 2, why would you mess with a good thing?
Has anyone at the university responded to the story by Rick Reilly?
Matt Fortuna (2:08 PM)
I'm not sure why they would, Reggie. People write good and bad things about Notre Dame every day. It would take a lot of time for an already busy staff to respond to every opinion people have about ND.
Andrew (Fort Wayne)
Hey Matt! Please do me a favor and tell these cry-babies to join the 21st Century. All these "traditionalist" are ripping ND for these new uni's and its pathetic. Its for 1 game people...CHILL OUT! Like it or not, its going to happen every year for at least the foreseeable future, so get used to it. They really need to take a step back off the ledge, cause there is no telling what their gonna do when FieldTurf and a Jumbotron comes (which will probably happen next year for at least FieldTurf). 18-22yr old kids LOVE it, which last I checked is the age bracket that actually suit up on Saturdays. Do they realize that the ND uniform has changed MANY times over the years? Do they realize ND Stadium used to have a manually operated scoreboard and the old stadium never had lights? Do they realize they added 20,000 seats to the stadium and now the facade looks nothing like the old brick that it used to be? I love ND's tradition as much as the next guy, but will somebody tell these whiners that mixing our tradition with a little modern flavor isn't wrong....in fact its actually a good thing!? If anybody reading this is one of those people....get off your computers, throw away your cell phones, trash your flat screen TV's cause they are far too advanced for your shallow minds! Here's to ND thumping Miami and looking pretty sweet in the process!
Matt Fortuna (2:11 PM)
And we have our first uniform rant of the day. And wait ... IT'S A POSITIVE ONE?! I don't disagree with you, Andrew. Me? I actually really like the jerseys and pants. The helmet is way out there though, even by 21st century standards. I'm no fashion expert, but I can't say I understand the 60/40 split and whatnot. Like you said, though, the people wearing them seem to like them, and that's what matters.
Matt, the lack of commitment of naming a starting QB is concerning. This is the scenario I imagine. ND plays Navy and at 1/2 time the score is 7-0 Irish on a Wood rushing TD. Golson has a fumble and is 3-12. Hendrix then starts the 2nd half, gets things going but throws 2 terrible INT's. ND wins, but no questions are answered and then Rees comes into the equation the following week... Nothing resolved going into to Purdue. Doesn't it behoove Kelly to just name a guy and stick with it. This season already feels like last season, except defense is going to be awesome.
Matt Fortuna (2:13 PM)
Pretty in-depth forecasting there, Scott. Believe me, everyone wants a No. 1 guy to emerge. And all signs point to it being Everett Golson right now. There's still two weeks of prep, most of which will be spent on Navy, and BK said the reps will start to separate next week. I think a starter will be named before the season. As for what happens in the game, well, that's something that will be dictated by circumstance.
Carl LaFong (Warsaw In)
Matt, I think coach Kelly seems pretty relaxed. Are you seeing the same thing during interviews?
Matt Fortuna (2:15 PM)
Carl, yes, though everyone takes on a lighter public tone before the season, when optimism abounds. Once the games are played and real issues come up, tensions get high.
Don (Lindenhurst, IL)
Have you heard a rumblings from the ND brass after the negative fan reviews on the Shamrock Series uniforms revealed this week? Any chance we could see a helmet change? Those look terrible!
Matt Fortuna (2:18 PM)
Don, I have not. Funny enough -- and totally unrelated -- my brother just texted me during this chat to say that he got offered a job by Nike today. Congrats to him.
John Anderson [via mobile]
Curious as to your opinion on the much talked about Rick Reilly article. Personally, I thought it was laughable.
Matt Fortuna (2:21 PM)
We're in a chatroom right now talking about Notre Dame, aren't we? There's your relevance.
Adam Wisbrock (Palatine, IL)
Who's your sleeper pick for an instant impact freshman?
Matt Fortuna (2:23 PM)
Hmm, good question. I don't think Davonte Neal would be much of a sleeper. I'll say Sheldon Day or Romeo Okwara.
BK said he was going to separate the reps between the QB's next week. Any idea on who will be getting the majority?
Matt Fortuna (2:26 PM)
Everett Golson has run with the first team almost the entire time we've been able to view practice. Barring anything unforeseen, he'll probably get more snaps next week.
Irish Fan (El Paso, TX)
Seems like that article by Rick Rilley made the ND haters come out of the woodworks. I know the plentiful true ND fans will always be supportive. As long as the haters are paying attention as well, ND will always be relevant to college football. Any thoughts?
Matt Fortuna (2:31 PM)
Agree with all of the above, minus the spelling of "Reilly."
the irish haven't beaten both michigan brothers in the same season since 04. those 2 games will set the tone of the year, since i figure ND will beat navy and purdue. would you figure ND beating both michigan brothers in the same year reasonable? and if they start 4-0, where would you figure they end up?
Matt Fortuna (2:34 PM)
Nate, it's reasonable but hardly favorable, given recent history. I found it funny that Jack Swarbrick said yesterday that he's afraid of the Dublin trip catching up with the team in Weeks 3 and 4. But IF ND starts out 4-0 entering the bye week, then things can get really interesting, especially with that tough October stretch on the horizon.
Jeremy(Moore,OK) [via mobile]
I am not a ND fan but why are they considered relevant? Shouldn't they join a conference especially with the changes in the BCS format? Or do they feel like they deserve a shot the way things are?
Matt Fortuna (2:36 PM)
Jeremy, you posted a Notre Dame question in a Friday afternoon Notre Dame chatroom. Whether you're aware of it or not, you are contributing to Notre Dame's relevance.
Hi Matt! Glad the weekly chat is back to focus on actual football. So, maybe a little under the radar still, I want to ask about kickoffs. Specifically, have you seen anything in the practices to indicate what the strategy will be there (both kicking off and returns)?
Matt Fortuna (2:40 PM)
Aren't we all, Brian? Haven't seen a whole lot in practice, and kickoff returns are going to be all the more difficult to come by this season with new rules, but BK had lots of kind words to say about George Atkinson III yesterday, and rightly so after last season.
TZ (South Bend, IN)
A lot of people (Chicken Little Notre Dame fans) expect a quarterback or two to transfer. Wouldn't these guys have gone to a lesser program if they didn't want to compete to win the job? If that is what Gunner wanted wouldn't he have gone to IU?
Matt Fortuna (2:44 PM)
TZ, I agree. Now, if you're in a situation like Dayne Crist's, and you've given it your all your whole career, gotten your diploma and know that your final season will be a lost cause, then I am entirely in support of a change of scenery.
Peter Barko (New York, NY)
With ND's mediocre home record the past few years, is there anything that can realistically be done to bring back a true home field advantage?
Matt Fortuna (2:48 PM)
Peter, here's my article recapping Jack Swarbrick's comments yesterday about the atmosphere: http://espn.go.com/blog/notre-dame-football/post/_/id/8077/no-ruling-yet-on-fieldturf-jumbotronYes, it's a tricky balance. But I think the other logic works, too: Win more games, the fans and atmosphere will become more exciting. The team shouldn't have to "count on" on the environment before going out on the field, though that's always nice to have in your corner.
I know I'm going against the grain by asking a question that isn't about QBs, but do you see any improvements in our punt return game this year? Do we have someone to stick back there that can get us more than -0.5 return yards per attempt?
Matt Fortuna (2:51 PM)
Ryno, how dare you?! It is a good question and relevant topic, though. Cierre Wood, Theo Riddick and Davonte Neal seem to be seeing a lot of action back there. I'm interested to see how Neal debuts there. And I think the fact they are using a 1,000-yard back in Wood speaks a little toward the way they're valuing punt returns this year. Michael Floyd, despite his value to the offense, went in there late last season and made up a lot of ground with a strong return in the bowl game.
Hey Matt! What's your take on the adjustments in the coaching staff? Any noticable changes from yuor perspective?
Matt Fortuna (2:55 PM)
Brian, so far, so good. You won't find a more likable guy than Chuck Martin -- from the players, to his peers and especially from reporters, as he is every writer's gift to interview. Bob Elliott is overqualified to coach one position on defense. And the TEs and O-linemen have all had strong things to say about Scott Booker and Harry Hiestand, too. Hiestand looks and sounds like he came out of the womb as a football coach, and he'll have a lot to work with this season.
Brad (Benton, KY)
Hey Matt, love your stuff. How do you think the young and inexperiences secondary has done through the offseason and how well do you think they will hold up this year against air assaults by Oklahoma and USC?
Matt Fortuna (2:59 PM)
Appreciate that, Brad. Everyone seems to be in agreement that Bennett Jackson will be good once he gets enough experience. And Lo Wood has been, by all accounts, the biggest riser on the team in camp so far. Kerry Cooks had very strong things to say to me about Wood yesterday. I think the Oklahoma contest will be interesting when you take into account the damage that has been done to the Sooners' o-line. The USC game would still scare me if I were an ND fan, but that's a long ways away.
Who do you see as the Top 3 CB's and Top 3 S? Obviously Jackson, Slaughter, and Motta for sure. Probably Lo Wood. But after that?
Matt Fortuna (3:01 PM)
Robb, BK said yesterday that Matthias Farley has made a strong push behind Dan McCarthy as the No. 3 safety. And I think Jalen Brown has done the same for the No. 3 corner spot.
Matt Fortuna (3:02 PM)
That's all from me today, folks. Thanks for stopping by. We'll be back here next Thursday at 2 p.m. in our regular slot for this season. Enjoy your weekends.