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)
Hey gang, quick phone call but will be back and get started in a few minutes.
Matt Fortuna (2:04 PM)
OK, back. Hopefully you'll forgive me for the delay when you read the story it was for. Anyway ... what's happening?
Once Alabama shut down ND's running game, does Golson have enough experience at this point to be able to beat them?
Matt Fortuna (2:05 PM)
Ryan, Alabama has struggled with mobile QBs. I'm not saying Golson is Johnny Football, but I am anxious to see how effective he is when improvising on the run. I also like the Tyler Eifert matchup, as Bama has faced no TE like him in the SEC.
Big Tuna, what's good? Would you like to give me an extra ticket to the natty? Thanks
Matt Fortuna (2:07 PM)
Extra?! Funny. Though appreciate the "big" since it ticks off my little brothers.
Is Nix listed on anyone's draft board as a first or second rounder?
Matt Fortuna (2:08 PM)
Bob, not that I've seen, though I think he can get there with one more college season like this one. I just don't think he has the necessary body of work to establish himself as a proven top-tier in the minds of scouts. If he plays like this for 12 more games? Then I do.
Chris (Tulsa, OK)
What's the practice schedule for Notre Dame and when can we see any player and/or coaches press conferences?
Matt Fortuna (2:11 PM)
Chris, ND practices tomorrow, Sunday, Tuesday, next Thursday and Friday before getting off for Christmas Dec. 21-26. They return to campus the 27th and to practice the 28th, the first of four straight days of practices before flying to South Florida on Jan. 2. There, they will practice the Jan. 3-5. As for media? There's a big bowl media day Monday on campus, and we get players after practice next Thursday, along with after practice on the 29th with Brian Kelly. I don't have the official Florida media stuff in front of me but there will be plenty more there as well.
Jeff (South Bend)
Taking nothing away from the season Te'o has had, do you think with him not winning the Heisman, it was a reality check type of moment? I know these kids can get caught up in the moment with all the national attention on them. Do you think ND gets a more focused Te'o without (as opposed to with) him winning the Heisman, now moving forward and preparing for Alabama?
Matt Fortuna (2:13 PM)
Jeff, not really. Te'o is the last guy I'd expect to get a big head. And even though the whole "chip on shoulder" makes for a good story line after he lost the Heisman, I don't think he'd be "less" focused had he won, if that makes sense.
Josh (columbus,oh) [via mobile]
Wanted to ask a hypothetical. I hear endlessly how the Irish are lucky that Ohio St isn't bowl eligible bc they'd dominate ND. Of course this comes from irrational, dellusional OSU fans. What's ur take on how that game would go?, I have hard time believing osu scores more than ten against the Irish.
Matt Fortuna (2:15 PM)
I'd pick Notre Dame but it's no layup, that's for sure. The Irish are good enough on their best day to beat anyone and, as we have seen multiple times this year, not good enough on their so-so days to win comfortably. (Purdue, BYU, Pitt)
AJ Latiolais (Lafayette L.A.)
The overwhelming elephant in the room for me as a ND fan is schools being interested in Bob Diaco. Latest I've heard is that Wisconson has shown interest. Any word on if he will interview with them? Hope not. And last, whats the latest with slaughter's possible med. redshirt situation? GO IRISH!!!!!!!!
Matt Fortuna (2:16 PM)
AJ, it wouldn't surprise me if Diaco interviewed there, but I don't know much beyond that. As for Slaughter, I'm not really sure he has a case for a sixth year given his history, but more power to him if he applies and gets it. Sad to see his season, and possibly career, end that way.
Jason Z (Chicago)
Matt - I brought this up last week but it was addressed. Will there be any stories or conversations around oversigning in college football? With bowl season, it's a good time to assess grad rates and oversigning. Alabama has 9 seniors and 5th year seniors!!! ND has 22 for comparison. No wonder the SEC dominates when they get a whole extra recruiting class.
Matt Fortuna (2:18 PM)
It's been brought up a lot nationally. Bama also is No. 7 in NCAA GSR and No. 7 in Time's academic BCS rankings, so make of that what you wish.
Andre (Tallahassee, FL)
How much do you think the outcome of the NCG will have on Cierre's decision to declare for the draft?
Matt Fortuna (2:19 PM)
Educated guess: Close to 0.
Matt, I know Coach Kelly previously said that Davaris Daniels would be back for the national championship game. Are there any other injuries that has the coaching stafff worried?
Matt Fortuna (2:20 PM)
Krystal, Zack Martin hurt his ankle in the USC game but should be fine. Louis Nix hurt his wrist during that goal-line stand and is slowly doing some weight work, but he should be fine as well.
How has practice been? I haven't heard any updates from Coach Kelly. When will his next press conference be?
Matt Fortuna (2:21 PM)
We don't see practice. His next availability is Monday.
Looks like the undefeated season is starting to pay off also from a recruiting standpoint. Any big names still on the board (ESPN 150) that the Irish have a legitimate shot at landing? Who is the big focus? And is the National Championship game a recruiting opportunity (i.e. can the team invite potential recruits) Oh, and sorry for jamming so many Qs into one post.
Matt Fortuna (2:23 PM)
Mike, Max Redfield is a big name still out there, that's for sure. And I do not believe the team can invite recruits down there.
I assume ND will be the "Home" team since they are higher ranked which means they pick which jersey to wear. Any chance they bring out the green jerseys against Alabama?
Matt Fortuna (2:24 PM)
Brett, equipment manager Ryan Grooms tweeted out the jerseys earlier this week. They are blue, with names on them. http://espn.go.com/blog/notre-dame-football/post/_/id/12387/irish-to-wear-names-on-title-game-jerseys
Jared (South Carolina)
When Bama played LSU and A&M it was clear that their D is not what it's been in the past, is that due to personel or lack of preperation? Which aspect on offense is going to be most needed to beat Alabama? Will Kelly lean heavier on one single back or continue to platoon them?
Matt Fortuna (2:27 PM)
Jared, that's because Bama lost seven starters from a national-title winning defense a year ago ... and the Tide are STILL No. 1 in total D and rushing D, and No. 2 in scoring D. I expect a platoon, since it's tough to see either of these guys getting 20-25 carries against this unit. And it wouldn't surprise me to see some over the top plays -- a la Chris Brown vs. Oklahoma -- since Bama's secondary is their (relatively) weak spot.
Phil Brigham. '83 (Litchfield, CT)
Matt, Has ND faced a team this year similar to Bama and all of the strengths that Bama will throw at them in terms of running the ball and their dominant defense?
Matt Fortuna (2:29 PM)
Phil, I'd say Stanford, but the Cardinal aren't as good. And didn't have the QB/WR then that Bama does now. ND rushed for 150 yards against the Cardinal, who are No. 3 nationally in rushing D and surrender just less than 88 yards per game.
William Sanchez (Nashville, TN)
Win or Lose in this years BCS National Championship Game, How successful do you think that The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will be next season with the players coming back and with what we know thus far the #4 recruiting class of 2013???
Matt Fortuna (2:30 PM)
No. 3 recruiting class, William. ND will be a preseason top-10 team and a BCS-bowl contender. National title good? Way too early for me to make that jump, but the Irish should be very god nonetheless.
mo (providence, RI)
Matt. Another blogger (I believe) thinks that LNIII will be a 1st round draft pick if he comes out this year. Nix himself however seemed to hint at the banquet that he is staying ("hopefully the first of many awards next year). Do you think he is staying? And why are we not more proactive about getting a NG beast in this recruiting class?
Matt Fortuna (2:32 PM)
I wouldn't read too much into those comments, but nonethless I'd say it's more likely he stays then goes. He also has a very big family that is counting on him, though, and he has to take a number of factors into consideration. Haven't seen him a first-rounder anywhere I read, for what it's worth.
Bigfrogkpc (Easthampton, MA)
So Matt, Am I to assume that anytine someone breaks the SEC total yards record, they will receive the Heisman? It seems to happen every other year. I thought this conference was about defense. What say you...
Matt Fortuna (2:33 PM)
... which makes that kind of offensive production all the more impressive. That being said, if Manziel has those numbers on a Big 12 Aggie team, the tone is probably much different, yes.
Aaron Lynch (FL)
After Leaving a Potential NC team and now loosing my coach, do people really think Im stupid? Wonder what my chances are now of making it big?
Matt Fortuna (2:34 PM)
I think you're stupid because you spelled "losing" wrong.
Ray (San Diego)
Why all the news about McCarron coming back next year? I've heard zero talk of him being a draftable QB at this point.
Matt Fortuna (2:35 PM)
No big surprise, but anytime a one (and possibly two)-time national championship QB comes back for another go-round, it is news.
Doesn't Alabama being favored and picked by virtually everyone to win this game plays right into the hands of Brian Kelly? They were picked to lose to Mich. St and Oklahoma by most everyone and were picked to lose to USC by a lot of folks and they seem to revel in the lack of respect.
Matt Fortuna (2:36 PM)
I think the media gets too much credit. After all, we're always told by players and coaches that they don't read what we write ...
Harvey Updyke ('Bama)
Spray paint? Check. Ladder tall enough to reach the Golden Dome? Check. I think an elephant would look mighty nice painted on the side of the Administration building, don't you?
Matt Fortuna (2:38 PM)
Not even going with Al from Dadeville this time, huh? Just stay away from the Grotto and TD Jesus, or my Catholic upbringing may finally begin to show.
Austin (Gadsden, Alabama)
Does Notre Dame's front seven hold up any better against the run than Georgia and their "NFL" defense did?
Matt Fortuna (2:39 PM)
Probably, but it needs to me MUCH better. Have to admire the way Bama took it to the Dawgs despite trailing, as the Tide rushed for 350 yards. That is simply ridiculous, and if Bama is anywhere near that total Jan. 7 then ND is in big, big trouble.
Herbie has Big Lou as his most important player aside from Te'o in the big game. Do you agree, or do you think Theo needs to run like he did against USC for the Irish to have any chance.Also, any thoughts on a fan vote for your official nickname? I wouldn't leave it to Facebook, they might come back with something like "Irish Tuna."
Matt Fortuna (2:41 PM)
Mike, I agree. Nix vs. Jones is the No. 1 matchup in this game, in my eyes. And both will be coming off injuries, too, so it's especially important to keep an eye on. As for the nickname, I AM half-Italian, too ...
Matt when did winning in 3OTs (Pitt) and a FG on the last play of the game become "winning comfortably"?
Matt Fortuna (2:42 PM)
I said ND is NOT good enough to win comfortably on a so-so day. ND had a so-so day vs. Pitt, and ND did not win comfortably.
Hi Matty Ice! Do you get the sense that most ND fans are "just happy to be here"? I admit, as long as we don't get blown out, I feel like we had a pretty good year! Of course I want them to win, but given ND's previous BCS bowl losses, you can understand my concern.
Matt Fortuna (2:45 PM)
Brian, a couple ways to look at this: You never know when the stars align and opportunities break for a team to make this kind of run. Look at Auburn, whose national-title winning coach is out of a job two years later. That being said, yes, barring a complete giveaway of the national title game, fans can look back on this season -- in the near or distant future, depending on your perspective -- and say this was a successful campaign. I mean, ND fans' biggest beef right now is that their star linebacker came in second in the Heisman voting -- after netting the most Heisman points of any exclusive defender ever. Imagine that scenario being presented before the season began.
Tony C (Atlanta)
I know both teams will travel well to the NCG but what do you think the crowd split will be at the actual game. Who needs the crowd support more? Go Irish!
Matt Fortuna (2:46 PM)
Well if we're judging this based on ND's home/road play so far this season ...
Matt: I always knew Notre Dame was famous, have their own TV network etc... but up untill this year Notre Dame had been so mediocre for so long you really didn't know if Notre Dame's popularity had declined; well, according to tv ratings this year, the overwhelming amount of money for a ticket for the National Championship, etcc.. plus, everyone is saying this game is going to break tv ratings records... I'd say the notre Dame brand is bigger and better than ever. Your thoughts?
Matt Fortuna (2:47 PM)
In a word: Yes.
Jared (South Carolina)
Hey I saw somewhere that the Center for Bama is going to have ACL surgery? Is this true?
Matt Fortuna (2:49 PM)
Yes ... in hoops: http://espn.go.com/colleges/alabama/story/_/id/8740069/carl-engstrom-alabama-crimson-tide-miss-rest-season
"Italian Tuna?" It lacks a certain something.
Matt Fortuna (2:49 PM)
Agree. Keep 'em coming ...
Bama had the same exact passing yards as ND did through 12 games (2x's the TD), when did Bama WR's all of sudden move to this All World Status? ND shut down a much more talented pair of real ALL WORLD WR's at USC? Can you help explain how this part of the story keeps getting legs (Bama passing attack is better than ND's secondary)?
Matt Fortuna (2:53 PM)
Rich, Marqise Lee had 7 catches for 92 yards and a TD, while playing with a first-time QB whose timing was off, which result in an interception. He was also the victim of several PI calls. Held their own? Yes. But ND did not shut down USC's WRs. (Woods added 5 catches for 75 yards).
Matt (Hermitage) [via mobile]
Who would you rather have at QB? Golson or McCarron? Or, could ND win if we swapped QB's?
Matt Fortuna (2:55 PM)
Very good question. I think McCarron is good, not great, but he also has that big-game experience. That said, I want a guy who can move outside the pocket, too, especially against either of these defenses. Long-term definitely Golson. One game? That's a close call ...
Matt Fortuna (2:55 PM)
Have time for a few more, guys ...
Matt (Notre Dame)
Speaking as a Matt, an Irish fan, and someone who is half-Italian, am I your evil twin from an alternate universe? I think I need to shave my finals goatee off...
Matt Fortuna (2:56 PM)
Drop the fan part and maybe, though they were the team my family followed most growing up (in typical East Coast, no-college-affiliation fashion).
My big concern is ND getting gashed for big yards (8 - 10 yards a play). Pitt was successful against us and I thought our Dline didn't play well in that game. Do you think we should stack the box early and make McCarron beat us with his arm?
Matt Fortuna (2:58 PM)
Chris, I think a point that gets overlooked with that Pitt game is Louis Nix. He spent two nights in the hospital that week with the flu and clearly wasn't himself, and we saw how much easier that made things for Pitt on the ground. I'd like to see how McCarron handles pressure, if ND can get it, because I'm not sure he's really had too much of it so far.
Matt Fortuna (2:59 PM)
That's all from me today folks. Thanks again for a great turnout. Good luck with finals and enjoy the chaos of holiday season.