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September 30, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Matt Fortuna

Matt
  (2:00 PM)

Greetings everyone. Lots to talk about today. Let's get right to it.

Fred (Indiana)

Matt, what do you think ND's chances are in West Lafayette this weekend? And do you think they will have a harder time on defense or offense?

Matt
  (2:02 PM)

Fred, Notre Dame is the better team, and this is likely the worst team it will have faced so far. Therefore, the Irish's chances are good. Through four games, it's hard to see them not having a harder time on offense.

John (Georgia)

Do you think that Notre Dame's offense will pick up its pace anymore, while under Rees? It seems like we are sticking with a more simple version of the playbook and we are moving much slower than was expected upon Kelly's arrival to Notre Dame before last season.

Matt
  (2:03 PM)

John, Brian Kelly touched on this a little bit earlier in the week. Yes, the offense is a work in progress, and Rees certainly isn't a finished product yet. The defense is the strong point for the Irish right now.

Mike (Pittsburgh)

Matt, if Tommy's the only QB we invest playing time in this year, doesn't that mean he's the likely starter next year as well (based on experience and eventual improvement)? And if he's the starter in 2012, wouldn't he start 2013 as well? I'm a Tommy fan, but since we can all agree Golson is the future, does it make sense we are only going to let him start his senior year?

Matt
  (2:05 PM)

Mike, I think you're jumping the gun a bit. Kelly said this week if the same questions that surround Tommy now surround him next season he won't be the starter. Regardless, I expect it to be an open competition next offseason.

Troy (Seattle (ND Country))

Matt: After last night's game, should I feel more impressed with our win over Pitt or more disappointed with our loss to South Florida?

Matt
  (2:06 PM)

Troy, I did not see that one coming. A little bit of both, but it's hard if you're a ND fan to watch that and not think the Irish let one get away in Week 1.

Derrick (PA)

I don't see Tommy as the future at qb. When do they hand over the team to Golson? Is it next year? I heard a special package could be implemented for him starting with USC.

Matt
  (2:08 PM)

Derrick, they're not looking that far ahead yet, especially with the way the first month went. Golson should get some action soon enough, but the Irish haven't been in a position yet to change things up. And Dayne Crist is the No. 2 QB right now.

Shane (San Francisco)

I continue to struggle to understand why Kelly is so patient with I continue to struggle to understand why Kelly is so patient with Rees despite his obvious shortcomings and propensity for turnovers. I concede that Crist did not perform very well, but he wasn't given much of a shot. The offense seems to have so much more potential with him and he can?t seem to perform much worse than Rees has. The offense?s tempo hasn?t been the same with Rees. I do not foresee the offense ever reaching an elite level with Rees. Why does Kelly obstinately stick by Rees?

Matt
  (2:10 PM)

Shane, I'm not sure I see eye to eye with you on the offense with Rees, as it seemed in a short period to respond and move better with him than with Crist. That being said, yes, wondering why Kelly has stuck with Rees through worse patches than he did Crist through one half is a fair question. Fourth-quarter drives like Saturday's seem to validate Kelly's faith, however.

Jon (Ohio)

Will Purdue be the opponent that ND finally 'puts it all together' against?

Matt
  (2:12 PM)

Jon, they certainly hope so. It's the weakest team ND has played so far and, despite an ugly performance last weekend at Pitt, ND has cut down on turnovers.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Who is the Best Quarterback for Notre Dame that you have ever seen?

Matt
  (2:13 PM)

Chris, we don't get to see practice in-season so I've seen what you've seen. And so far I'd go with Rees, though the Crist question is a fair one.

Angela Matz (Sarasota, Fl)

Do you think, (assuming ND wins against Purdue this weekend), Notre Dame will be ranked after Pitt beat USF?

Matt
  (2:14 PM)

Angela, I want to say no, but it really depends on what everyone else does this weekend. ND got just three AP votes last week and would need a huge jump, but Jeff Sagarin has the Irish at No. 25 in his rankings.

Travis (Grand Rapids, MI)

People look to Rees' record and two big drives he had this year against Michigan and Pitt when assessing his abilities. But the fact is he is responsible for 9 of ND's 15 turnovers, many that are costly and have put the chances of winning in jeopardy. Is Rees the best option for Notre Dame? Or is it safer to go with Crist and stop putting the Defense in tough positions?

Matt
  (2:15 PM)

LOTS of QB questions today ... Travis, it's too late to go back to Crist now. You don't want to create instability at that position in the middle of the season, especially coming off two straight wins.

Matt Rogers (Melbourne Florida)

Matt, I was thinking today about Notre Dame's quarterback situation down the road. What do you think will happen? Will Hendrix or Golson get their shot next fall? Is Rees really the future? and what will happen to poor Dayne Crist? Thanks.

Matt
  (2:18 PM)

Matt, Brian Kelly was asked yesterday about keeping Hendrix and Golson happy and said he's been working with them individually, especially on the college transition in general. Hendrix, for example, is a pre-med major. I expect it to be an open competition next year, but it's up in the air whether Crist will be back or not. We need to see how things play out this year and if Crist gets another shot.

Randy (Chicago)

Seems like Kelly has made a lot of strides with the defense. The offense has its moments but is at other times infuriating. Do you think the offense is being held up a bit by the fact neither of the two top QBs are runners? Is Kelly just holding back until one of the younger runners can take the controls? Sure seems like what the goal line offense needs? I thought at one point we might see one of the younger guys in goal line situations.

Matt
  (2:20 PM)

Randy, it's certainly a disadvantage to not have a mobile QB back there. Golson and Hendrix will likely see some time eventually, but I'm not sure goal line situations are the ones you want to immediately throw them into because of the risks involved. Just look at drive 1 of Week 1.

Shane (Florida)

Matt, Im curious to see just how potent we come out on offense this Saturday. There has been nothing substantial to suggest Purdue's overall D will be able to hang with us, and i'm extremely confident our front seven will shut Bolden down and force TerBush or Marve to make mistakes. That being said, is there any notion among and prominent members of ND Nation that are looking at this as a trap game? Do you think ND can finally impose the kind of brutal will the LSUs and Alabamas of CFB deliver every week with an opponent like Purdue?

Matt
  (2:23 PM)

Shane, I think the trap game could be Air Force after the Irish come home from two straight road games and three of their first five. The defense has done what it can given its situations, though I'm sure the players would like to force more turnovers. That being said, I wouldn't expect anything resembling LSU or Alabama so far.

Jeff (Athens, alabama)

Tommy is a good QB, but I still think Dayne is the man for the job. Tommy had alot of bad decisions last week, and was wanting Dayne to be put back in. When can we expect to see Dayne again? Michael Floyd best WR in college. Why don't they isolate him on one side to make the defense play him straight up? Its easy, double Floyd and someone else is open. Go Yanks!!!

Matt
  (2:25 PM)

Jeff, Kelly said the thought of taking out Rees never crossed his mind. I wouldn't expect Dayne unless things get really bad or, knock on wood, an injury. And they are doing all they can to get Floyd open. They don't want one of the best WRs in the nation to be out there as just a decoy.

Jason (Chicago)

Matt,Can someone please ask Coach Kelly why he feels the special teams are very much under performing this year? No one has seemed to point out to him that ND is almost dead last in the majority of special teams categories. Last year was bad too and last time I noticed ST is 1/3 of the game.

Matt
  (2:27 PM)

Jason, Atkinson's kickoff return against MSU was certainly a boost, and the punting game has shown improvement the last two weeks. The big problem, of course, is lack of a proven punt returner. Theo Riddick is the ideal guy, but one bad outing bled into his offensive performance as well. John Goodman seemed like the sure-handed guy, then he fumbled deep in his own territory in the fourth quarter against MSU. FWIW, they finally went a game without turning it over on special teams, though they'd hope for more positives than that.

Brian K (South Bend)

Matt I have to ask, Dayne Crist has a "mediocre" unsatisfying first half against South Florida in the first game of the season so i pulled him for Rees. Why did I not do the same after Tommy's awful...just horrendous performance in the first 3 and a half quarters against Pitt? Have I been fair to Dayne?

Molly (San Diego)

Why do you think Tommy Rees has been given a longer leash than Dayne Crist? I'm not convinced that Rees is our best option, and I'm certainly not of the thinking that had Crist not been in the games, he wouldn't have been as productive. Do you think Kelly, in some ways, is trying to save face by sticking with Rees despite his horrendous play because he doesn't want to admit that he pulled Dayne too fast?

Matt
  (2:30 PM)

I'm getting a lot of these so I will try to kill two birds with one stone. And for this, I present a scenario. What if Jonas Gray punches it in on third-and-goal on ND's first drive of the season instead of fumbling it for six the other way? That completely changes the outlook of that game, as ND was playing from behind the whole way. Not blaming Crist's benching on Gray, of course, but what if is always interesting.

Chris (Tulsa,OK)

Look into your crystal (foot)ball if you will and predict when Notre Dame will be competing for a NC??

Matt
  (2:31 PM)

Chris, let's say two years. They may be good enough next year but that schedule is just downright brutal.

Bobby M. (Schaumburg, Illinois)

As an Irish fan I am excited to watch them beat down Purdon't in primetime tomorrow night. My question is simple, does a 9-3 with a loss at Stanford (not a blowout but just a typical Irish heartbreaker) get the Irish into a BCS game?

Matt
  (2:33 PM)

Bobby, I'm leaning toward no. It will again depend on what other schools do, but I think the third loss coming in the last game of the season -- with a chance to make a national statement, no less -- will hurt them.

Curt (Indiana)

Matt, with the way Pitt ran all over South Florida you have to feel good about ND's defense.

Matt
  (2:34 PM)

Curt, yup, that was certainly an eye-opener last night.

Coach Egmer (Chicago, il)

Can ND ever get back to greatness and how will they do the remaining 8 games

Matt
  (2:34 PM)

Coach, that depends on your definition of greatness. BCS bowl? Not far away. National title game? We may be talking a few years.

Curt (Indiana)

Do you think Purdue is going to be able to run on the Irish?

Matt
  (2:35 PM)

Curt, in a word, no. The Boilermakers' O-line will probably be overmatched.

Greg (AZ)

When do you think it would be prudent to start seeing multiple QB combos in games? (rees/hendrix) Also how short of a leash is Rees on with turnovers?

Matt
  (2:36 PM)

Greg, I'm sure they would have like to get them in by now, but whenever they get a comfortable enough lead in the middle of a game is the likely answer. And Kelly has re-iterated that Rees is his guy, though another first half like last week's will certainly re-open the questions.

Phillip (a stadium near you)

Matt, do you think the turnovers have become a mental issue more than a physical issue?

Matt
  (2:38 PM)

Phillip, usually it's a mental one. Kelly and Rees have talked about going over things in the film room where Rees will be point out a mistake before it even happens and be kicking himself for it. That being said, keeping two hands on the ball or even taking a sack from time to time would be a nice step toward eliminating them.

ricky (south bend)

How much more impressed are you with Notre Dame overall after the thumping Pitt had over South Florida (granted we lost to SF but dominated statisticlly) especially in the running D

Matt
  (2:41 PM)

Ricky, that ugly win from last week definitely looks a lot less ugly, especially given the Irish's run defense. I'm sure there's a good amount of ND fans kicking themselves after watching how bad USF looked, though.

Jason (South Bend)

How do you think the season would be sitting right now if Jonas Gray would have punched that touchdown in instead of fumbling? Would it still be Dayne at the helm and a top 10 team? Or would we have most likely slipped up somewhere?

Matt
  (2:43 PM)

Jason, not sure if you got this question in before I mentioned that scenario or not, but it's always an interesting one to look back on. It's impossible to know what kind of an effect that would have on the Michigan game, so I don't know if I'd say top 10 team so easily.

Sean (Indiana)

Do you think this will be Matei Teo's last year in South Bend?

Matt
  (2:44 PM)

Sean, you're not the first to misspell his name, but it is Manti, and he gets very frustrated by people mispronouncing it as well. He looks like a first round pick if he choose to leave, but he is anything but conventional and I wouldn't be surprised either way right now.

Matt
  (2:44 PM)

Also, didn't mean to pick on you with the name.

Stuart (New Jersey)

Do you see some of the OTHER freshmen such as Golson, Daniels, Ishaq Williams, or Josh Atkinson getting time at all during the course of this season?

Matt
  (2:45 PM)

Stuart, Ishaq has played a lot. The other three are the next three in.

Nick (Indy)

How many more losses for the irish this year?

Matt
  (2:46 PM)

I'll say at the very least one, but nothing would surprise me given how the first month has unfolded.

Josh (columbus, ohio)

with the success they had against Pitt, do you see a lot more of the Tuitt, Lynch, Shembo rush packages this week?

Matt
  (2:48 PM)

Josh, I think so. That was a nice and surprising wrinkle, seeing Tuitt at nose guard. And Pitt's O-line never stood a chance against that rush. I'm interested to see if there are any other tricks along the line that can surprise some people, but the potential of those freshmen has to get ND fans excited.

Lou (South Bend)

I agree that the ND defense looks good, but when will they create some turnovers to offset those of the ND offense? Also, the game last night makes Shembo tracking down Graham last week look all the more impressive!

Matt
  (2:49 PM)

Lou, I was thinking the same thing about Shembo's play. Wow, indeed. Creating turnovers is the next step, as ND's TO margin is the worst in the nation. The sudden-change D has been outstanding, however, and has nullified a lot of the offense and special teams turnovers so far.

Bob (Seattle)

Why don't opposing teams just keep passing against ND and forget about the run? It seems like if they run a 10 yard flat, it's wide open and you can just throw up Hail Marys against #4 to mix it up?

Matt
  (2:50 PM)

Bob, it is never that simple, especially with the Irish's dominant pass rush the last two weeks.

Willow (Southside)

Better season for ND: they run the table, going 10-2 and then get demolished by 30 in a BCS Bowl or they finish 8-4 and win the Champ Sports Bowl to end 9-4?

Matt
  (2:51 PM)

Willow, BCS bowl. Bigger stage and exposure (not that ND needs it), and a huge step in the progress under Kelly, regardless of outcome. 9-4 with a win over a lighter opponent is only a one-game improvement from last year.

Chris Rottenberg (Iconn, IN)

At this stage of the season, looking ahead at what is left, what is the optimistic and what is the realistic expectations for the final record? Can this team improve enough to compete with Stanford?

Matt
  (2:52 PM)

Chris, the most optimistic optimists have probably seen enough to think this team can run the table, and I suppose that's possible. But it needs to improve in several areas. The schedule is favorable until Stanford, so I don't think it will quite be David vs Goliath. We don't know how Stanford will then, either.

Matt
  (2:52 PM)

Chris, the most optimistic optimists have probably seen enough to think this team can run the table, and I suppose that's possible. But it needs to improve in several areas. The schedule is favorable until Stanford, so I don't think it will quite be David vs Goliath. We don't know how Stanford will then, either.

Nick (Indy)

OMG, STOP answering the same QB questions over and over!

Matt
  (2:52 PM)

OMG, STOP asking them over and over!

Jason (South Bend)

Can everyone stop asking the same question? He said its Rees this year, next year will be figured out NEXT year

Matt
  (2:53 PM)

Tell 'em, Jason! (I think you and Nick would get along.)

Matt
  (2:53 PM)

Tell 'em, Jason! (I think you and Nick would get along.)

Matt
  (2:53 PM)

Seriously, though, keep them coming, folks. This is easily the busiest chat of the season and I love hearing from you guys.

billy (toledo)

why hasnt blanton had any praise for his play this year. i noticed after the pick against michigan no team really throws to his side. but then again with gray on the otherside why go to blantons side

Matt
  (2:55 PM)

Billy, Blanton has gotten PLENTY of praise, trust me. He's an, um, let's just say interesting interview, answering almost every question with a "Yes, sir" or "No, sir." But apparently he's one of the biggest talkers on the field. Regardless, he's played outstanding and I don't think he's been overlooked by us.

Matt
  (2:55 PM)

I have time for a few more ...

Adam (NYC)

What do you think of ND's situation at cornerback? Gary Gray had a pass interference called against him last week - but I think the call was bogus. Do you think it really is as much of a position of weakness for the Irish as everyone is making it out to be??

Matt
  (2:56 PM)

Adam, I don't, but the national view is probably tainted a bit because of its awful performance in the fourth quarter under the lights at Michigan. And I didn't agree with that call last week, either.

Kurt (New York)

Are you a little surprised that people are questioning if ND will win this weekend? Chalk it down to "fuel" for a night game or real concern that Purdue can make a game of it?

Matt
  (2:57 PM)

Kurt, I haven't gotten that vibe as much as a matter of how badly they can win. MSU is the only game ND completely out-played its opponent in, and Purdue, on paper, would seem to present another opportunity.

Curt (Indiana)

Matt, let's talk about the defense. Outside of the fourth quarter at Michigan this defense has been very good. The best defensive line that Notre Dame has had in years!

Matt
  (2:59 PM)

Curt, for seven out of eight quarters it's been great. The fourth quarter at Michigan is what will get the most attention because of the spotlight and pure craziness of it all, but ND can't look back at that one.

billy (toledo)

matt why wasnt aaron lynch in the michigan at all no minutes in the game. he's their best rusher and he didnt get a chance to hit robinson.seems to me the line plays much faster without slow ethan johnson on the field

Matt
  (3:01 PM)

Billy, given the way he's played since, it was a weird decision, looking back on it, though it was apparently determined before the game against a complicated QB like Denard Robinson. I think you're underestimating Ethan Johnson, too. It's not like Lynch should be stealing minutes from him.

Matt Fortuna (ESPN)

Why don't people PLEASE stop asking me stupid questions about Dayne and Tommy? Kelly has made his decision and the QB position is decided. Thank you

Matt
  (3:03 PM)

Hey, I know you. And they're not stupid questions. They are just a lot of the same questions.

Matt
  (3:03 PM)

And with that, I will end this chat talking to myself. Apologies if I didn't get to you, and thanks for stopping by.