Chat with Matt Fortuna
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, 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 Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
Matt Fortuna (1:59 PM)
Welcome aboard, gang. The Irish are 3-0, have a night game against rival Michigan this weekend and have fans and media talking big picture. Who would've thought? Let's see what you guys have on your mind today ...
Giancarlo Toffoli (St Jean, Canada)
Mr. Fortuna,I will be the first to admit I did not have and do not have much faith in this team. In spite of their thrilling win last Saturday evenng against a superior on paper Spartan team, I feel they are due for a come uppance this coming weekend in South Bend. This is an ideal let down game and the Wolverines will walk out of Notre Dame stadium like the visitors did last weekend in East Lansing, Michigan. What do you think?
Matt Fortuna (2:01 PM)
Giancarlo, I can see a ND fan's concern. The Irish have had Michigan beat three years in a row before giving up a game-winning score late. But ND is also riding the confidence of a top-10 road night win and its first 3-0 start since 2002. Add in the taste of humble pie they got from last year's night game letdown, and I don't think ND loses this one.
Brian (Cincinnati, OH)
Hey Matt,Honestly I think if Notre Dame wins, you have the most to gain. I saw those interviews at MSU, you looking so fancy in your suit, getting interviewed by other reporters. You could just be the guy that was covering Notre Dame when they returned. So I hope they win for your sake.
Matt Fortuna (2:03 PM)
And we have an early nomination for comment of the day. Anyone else? ...
Aaron (Bloomington, IL)
I noticed you said you think we will only see one QB in this game (minus mop up duty of course) but I have to disagree with you on this one. Michigan is more than likely going to put up points, and they're going to to do it a lot quicker and easier than Mich. St's stagnant O last week. With that being the case, the Irish will have to keep up pace and with Everett missing some key passes last week that would've extended drives or really blown the game open, I think BK might be implementing Rees in there to get some extended scoring drives. BK wants to beat Michigan, he has yet to do it. He's going to do what it takes. No?
Matt Fortuna (2:04 PM)
Aaron, yeah, he does have to do what it takes, but I just have a hard time, based on matchups, seeing this come down to the final drive again. ND should be able to overpower Michigan on both lines, and they should not have to ask too much of Golson. If he plays awful, then sure, a switch would be warranted, but I just don't see it happening.
Tim (Syracuse, NY)
Matt, it was great game all around by Notre Dame last week. That being said I don't like to get ahead of myself and don't think we should be asking questions about a BCS or anything. This week is another HUGE week for ND football. I believe having Cierre Wood back will help ND control the game and Keep Robinson off the field since he had some key runs in last weeks game vs Mich St. Your thoughts?
Matt Fortuna (2:06 PM)
Tim, agree on all counts. I think Wood could prove to be a very big factor. He had a field day last season against Michigan up the middle and should be counted upon, along with Theo Riddick, even more this weekend. But yes, recent history with this team should make every fan cautious before proclaiming they are "back" just yet.
Do you think Bobby D and the Boys are going to be on a harder look out for that wheel route this time?
Matt Fortuna (2:07 PM)
They better be.
Hi Matt! First off, please acknowledge that I submitted Ben Turk for most-improved from last year BEFORE the MSU game. He was huge! But besides that, I went back and watched last season's game against UM. I'm worried. Much more so than I was against MSU. While ND did their (well-documented) self-destruction, Michigan also played poorly, especially early-on. There were several dropped passes that led to a deceptive performance by the defense. Michigan is more balanced than Sparty and has more talent on offense. The defense will win this game, we're going to have to score points. Does that match your perspective and recollection?
Matt Fortuna (2:09 PM)
Brian, I think MSU is superior to Michigan in every area but QB and WR, which are obviously big ones. But yes, the defense will win this game, and the offense can't mess it up by turning the ball over. Seriously, four TOs (the final was on special teams) and it still takes a miracle final drive to lose?
Could this be Everett's coming out party? He's been a quiet manageable QB since week 1 and we've all seen him on the brink of exploding that athleticism in everyone's faces. Maybe with 3 games under his belt and a not so great Michigan D, 300+ yards 3 TD's and 1 rushing TD? Wishful thinking? I think not...
Matt Fortuna (2:10 PM)
Chris, I don't think so, but I could be wrong. I don't think it will be necessary against Michigan's defense, though if the Wolverines start stacking the box early it could open up some big passing plays.
Hi Matt, I love how everyone is picking UM to upset ND this year, when UM started the season ranked higher than ND is now. Their only loss comes to Alabama, which is currently the top team in the country. Any indication that ND is over-ranked and UM under-ranked? I wouldn't necessarily call a UM victory an upset win, but just proving their preseason ranking was accurate.
Matt Fortuna (2:13 PM)
Rand, maybe I'm not reading you right -- are you surprised that UM is the underdog, or that the Wolverines are getting picked? Because I haven't seen too many people picking UM. Regardless, yes, Alabama seems to be in a league of its own right now and it's tough to gauge an accurate barometer of a team that got routed by the nation's best. As for ND's ranking, I've been surprised by the number of fans who seem to think that's a bit high. I just don't know how many teams you could put ahead of the Irish through the season's first three games. Alabama's looked dominant, LSU, Oregon, FSU an WVU have looked outstanding ... then what? Time will tell.
Jason Z (Chicago)
Matt - where's the Heisman love for Manti? Jarvis Jones has nothing on #5. Tell your ESPN boys to open their eyes. We need to start hyping his campaign!
Matt Fortuna (2:16 PM)
Jason, I came very close to putting him on mine, and was a bit surprised no one else did. It's only three weeks. If he keeps it up he'll crack some lists, though defensive players are essentially irrelevant in Heisman races (not my choice, but just the sad reality).
Matt (Pittsburgh PA)
Matt, with malik zaire and gunner kiel in the mix in the up coming years along with golson's 4 years of eligbility, how are we going to get all of them on the field?
Matt Fortuna (2:17 PM)
Matt, not a bad question, but just the last thing that's probably on BK or any of the staff's minds right now after starting 3-0. The development of Golson and the upward swing of the program will attract talented players.
Dan (South Bend)
How bout everyone in the stadium wears leis? How cool would that look?
Matt Fortuna (2:19 PM)
Very interested to see what that looks like. Great initiative, too.
Andy (San Antonio, TX)
Hey Matt! What'st the chance we see Amir Carlise this weekend? There are only so many touches back there with Cierre, Cam, Theo and George. Thanks!
Matt Fortuna (2:21 PM)
Andy, you probably answered the question yourself. Carlisle didn't travel last week so I'd imagine he's still very far behind, and I think a redshirt could end up being the case this season. Tough break for ND, which got the transfer exemption for him to be eligible this season.
What's the status on DaVarius Daniels? Will he be limited at all this weekend?
Matt Fortuna (2:22 PM)
Steve, BK said Daniels is "probable." I'd imagine he'd play, but I'm not sure how much to expect out of him. He made great progress last week before suffering a setback Friday, limiting him severely against MSU.
Jon (Des Moines)
You predicted an Irish victory, 27-21. Before the 4th quarter meltdown last year, Notre Dame completely dominated the game. Notre Dame's defenesive and offensive line are much improved and quaterback play has been solid. Game is also in South Bend. Denard has owned the Irish but do you think the game will be decided by so few points? All signs point to a comfortable ND victory.
Matt Fortuna (2:25 PM)
Jon, it was 24-7 going into the fourth quarter last season, pointing to a comfortable victory, too. ND's top-10 recruiting classes, unmatched tradition and strong facilities point to a program that makes BCS bowls every year. If it were that simple ... well, it would be that simple. I think the Irish have convincingly better personnel than Michigan this season and that should be enough for a win, but there are so many x-factors at play with this team that to write it off as a sure win would be premature.
Michigan getting killed by Alabama, or one of Denard's passes NOT hitting the jumbo tron. Which of these did you find more shocking when Michigan played Alabama in Dallas?
Matt Fortuna (2:27 PM)
Neither, to be honest, though I guess if I have to choose then I'd go with the latter. Alabama is just that good though.
H.R. (Human Rights) (Washington, D.C.)
Does Chase Hounshell see the field or should they just preserve eligibility?
Matt Fortuna (2:28 PM)
I'm guessing the latter, but that could change with another injury up front.
How long do you give ND until they join as full football members in the ACC? Is there any reason that they can't continue traditional rivalries on a rotation to accommodate fewer non-conference games?
Matt Fortuna (2:30 PM)
Kris, I think that day where their hand is ultimately forced will eventually come, just not in the near future. And yes, I think the UM/MSU/PU rivalries will likely shift to a rotating basis, with Navy/USC/Stanford keeping their annual dates.
Shoelaces (Ann Arbor)
What's good Tuna? Will this year be different or will i dominate the domers again?
Matt Fortuna (2:31 PM)
I didn't know we were on a nickname basis, Shoelace. You'll get yours, but I don't think you'll get enough help to come out victorious.
Ryan Shea (Elmhurst, IL)
Brian Kelley said somethign about Carl Nix playing offense on the radio Show, did you hear?
Matt Fortuna (2:31 PM)
Who's Carl Nix?
Ryan (Greensboro, NC)
Matt - any word on which prospects will be in attendance at the Michigan game (outside of our current commits)?
Matt Fortuna (2:34 PM)
Ryan, Jared Shanker has you covered. I linked to most of them yesterday here: http://espn.go.com/blog/notre-dame-football/post/_/id/9272/irish-recruiting-roundup-29
Paul (The Woodlands, TX)
I feel like we've had a great deal of potential BCS talk, but so far the season has gone as expected except for MSU win. I feel like all Irish fans should take a deep breath and relax, because UM, OU, Stanford, USC, and BYU all could very easily beat ND. I see 9-3 or 10-2 now, what do you think?
Matt Fortuna (2:35 PM)
Paul, that sounds about right. Those Stanford and BYU games should definitely be interesting.
Frank Cooke (Palatine, IL)
Gotta give credit to where credit is due, you called the close game against Purdue (rhyming unintentional). Alright, Notre-dameus, what do you think will happen against UM?
Matt Fortuna (2:37 PM)
Think you're giving me a little too much credit, Frank. I had 28-13 ND. And I completely whiffed on last week's prediction. For this week I said 27-21 ND today: http://espn.go.com/blog/notre-dame-football/post/_/id/9282/notre-dame-prediction-week-4-vs-michigan
Bo (6 feet under ann Arbor)
Matt! You have no idea what you are talking about! Brady Hoke is rebuilding Michigan's toughness and will overpower the Irish in the trenches.
Matt Fortuna (2:38 PM)
He'll beat BK in a wrestling match, as we all learned this week.
Tyler Eifert (Fort Wayne)
Matt, you totally jinxed me last week telling the Spartans I was the guy to watch out for...I ended up with zero catches! Who does Michigan need to worry most about this week?
Matt Fortuna (2:39 PM)
Tyler, I gave you an MSU predicted win, so I think you should be happy, since the W is most important. You'll see my pick tomorrow (and it won't be you).
Peter (Troy, MI)
This is ND's THIRD rivalry game in a row....and they had the Ireland trip before that, The previous two rivalry games were against strong Purdue and MSU teams. Do you think this helps or hurts the Irish this weekend?
Matt Fortuna (2:40 PM)
Peter, and I say this respectfully: But I don't think it has any impact whatsoever.
Nobody seems to be talking about the weather forecasted for Saturday: cold, windy and a chance of rain. Would this favor either team?
Matt Fortuna (2:40 PM)
Notre Dame, as the Irish are a more physical, methodical team that wouldn't have to change as much. That weather would hurt Denard, too.
Peter (Troy, MI)
Golson reminds me of Denard Robinson. He seemed to connect on some unbelievable passes against MSU (across the field, while being hit, etc.) while still completing less than 50% of his passes and watching two interceptions bobbled and dropped. I know MSU is good, but those things are a little concerning going forward.
Matt Fortuna (2:42 PM)
Peter, Golson doesn't remind me of Denard at all. He has a stronger arm and isn't nearly as quick as Denard, though no one really is. You're concerns from last week are valid, but surviving those mistakes and coming away with a road night win like that will only make Golson better and help him develop moving forward.
Jared (South Carolina)
If there were a magic number that equated in an Irish win what would that be? Ithink if we hold them to under 21 pints we will win.
Matt Fortuna (2:43 PM)
Probably, but I'd aim for a little lower number, just to be safe. This team hasn't scored above 20 in the last weeks, though it was playing two superior defenses.
Troy Calhoun (Colorado Springs)
Last week we ran all over the Wolverines. Was that our scheme or a weakness on the part of Michigan?
Matt Fortuna (2:45 PM)
Troy, a little bit of both, though your running attack is vastly different from ND's. I just hope BK and his players a little more forthcoming than you postgame.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Do you think the Irish will be undefeated when they arrive in Norman next month?
Matt Fortuna (2:45 PM)
Not ready to say yes, but it is very possible.
Matt my wife and I are headed to the game this weekend WITHOUT TICKETS, just going for the atmospere, should we go to Legends or another local PUB to enjoy the game.. we would like to be close in hopes ND wins so we can celebrate with the fans that actually have tickets. Yes we are flying to South Bend just to be there!! GO IRISH!!!
Matt Fortuna (2:46 PM)
Gotta love the spirit. If you want to be close to the stadium, then yes, Legends or one of the bars on Eddy St. (O'Rourke's or Brothers) are your best options. Have fun.
Vince Vaughn (Chicago)
Should I make an appearance on Saturday?
Matt Fortuna (2:47 PM)
Weren't you at Stanford last week? I guess if you'd like another upset ...
I'm scared to ask, but I have to... What are the chances ND breaks out the green jerseys this weekend(Or maybe a home version of last year's "Under-the-Lights" jerseys)?
Matt Fortuna (2:47 PM)
They've said they're not, so I believe them. I think the Shamrock Series ones in two weeks are enough for now.
Matt, was MSU overrated? I noticed they had won 15 straight and 4 over michigan.....was it big? or is that just an average team in MSU?
Matt Fortuna (2:48 PM)
Steve, I know I severely overestimated them, but the sound way in which ND beat MSU has to be pleasing for you guys. The Spartans are young and will get much better though, and should probably still be favored in the Big Ten.
From the play of the team to the "Stand Up" initiative in the stadium, ND seems to be coming with a chip on their shoulder this season. How much of that is a response to Rick Reilly's column questioning their relevance?
Matt Fortuna (2:51 PM)
None. If you need a media member to question your relevance in order to get fired up for a season, then you are not a strong fan base. (And I'm not saying that applies to ND, which has probably the nation's biggest fanbase.)
Aaron Lynch (Florida)
What was I thinking? Not only am I sitting out right now, but I could be playing on one of the most dominant D lines in CFB had I just stuck it out. Who knows, maybe even Heisman talk along with Manti.
Matt Fortuna (2:51 PM)
I don't know, Aaron. I don't know.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
Will you be preparing for a BCS Bowl trip if the Irish take care of business against Michigan this week? Or will you wait until after the Stanford game to see if the Irish are for real or just playing with your emotions?
Matt Fortuna (2:52 PM)
I have no emotions to play with, but I'm not looking into any flight/hotel accommodations unless they enter Oklahoma 7-0, which is looking like a possibility.
More of a basketball question than a football one: Do you see the Irish maintaining rivalries with any of their old Big East rivals? What about the possibility of bringing a program like Villanova to the ACC?
Matt Fortuna (2:53 PM)
Ryan, Andy Katz covered that for you here: http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/blog/_/name/katz_andy/id/8395095/notre-dame-fighting-irish-want-maintain-several-big-east-rivalries-men-college-basketball
The coverage this week is making it seem like Denard Robinson beat the Irish by himself. Isn't the bigger issue the FIVE TURNOVERS they had last year, and the fact that they're turning that around so far?
Matt Fortuna (2:54 PM)
Yes and no. I mean, if ND doesn't turn the ball over last year then they obviously win. But Denard has had two remarkable performances against the Irish. Just look at the numbers from Adam Rittenberg: http://espn.go.com/blog/bigten/post/_/id/59060/notre-dames-nightmare-denard-robinsonA player with that much success against one team will dominate the headlines, every time.
Matt Fortuna (2:55 PM)
Have time for only a few more guys ...
Hey Matt. A little interesting that Kirk H. seems to have backed off his initial praise for ND. During the game he gushed about the speed on defense and talented players on all three sides of the ball. Now he seems to be saying "We'll see if that was a fluke or the real deal." I agree with him 100%...it was just one game. ND has not recently shown the ability to play nearly flawless football (like they did in East Lansing) very often. But you seem to dense something different with this squad. Why should we think this is any different than other seasons?
Matt Fortuna (2:56 PM)
Brian, I don't know if you can feel different until you actually results to go off. The win at MSU was a GREAT first step, but it doesn't mean a thing if the Irish lay an egg this week against Michigan.
Peter (Troy, MI)
Matt, I meant Golson is similar to Robinson in his erratic passing. Some amazing connections and some bad, bad reads or throws. I feel like he is the X factor this weekend. Michigan has a very solid secondary (holding opponents to a low YPA) and if ND NEEDS to throw a lot, who knows what will happen.
Matt Fortuna (2:57 PM)
Noted, Peter. Fair points.
Let's say ND beats UM - does that make the Miami game a possible trap with Standford coming in the week after?
Matt Fortuna (2:58 PM)
Neal, I suppose. Miami will be really overmatched this season and it will be another electric environment in ND's favor, coming off a bye no less. But when you underachieve year-in and year-out, you simply are not good enough to have a "trap" game and need to simply take care of business.
Leonard (Hoboken, NJ)
Hey Matty Ice! Love the blog! Pulitzer in your future, buddy! Oh, a question? Was Tyler Eifert so good last year because of Michael Floyd? He's been somewhat quet this season.
Matt Fortuna (2:59 PM)
Not sure if the nickname or the compliment is funnier. In any event, no, I think Eifert is that good, as you saw against Purdue. Even when he's not putting up big numbers he is drawing double-teams and opening up space for other guys.
Matt Fortuna (3:00 PM)
That's all from me today folks. Great catching up. Enjoy the weekend, and be safe.