Welcome back to the Notre Dame mailbag. Keep those questions and comments coming. You can use the link on the right side of this page or simply click here.
Matthew G. from Tampa writes: Do you feel after the ND victory over BC, that ND will start turning the corner and become a Top-25 team?
Brian Bennett: Let's not get too carried away. The Boston College win was nice, but the Eagles don't look like a very good team. The Notre Dame résumé is light, and the schedule coming up doesn't present many opportunities for statement wins. If the Irish can win their next four games and then beat a potential Top-10 Utah at home, they'd be 7-3 and at that point could get back into the rankings.
Mike from Dayton writes: While ND's schedule does lighten up a bit, how do you see them faring against teams such as Navy, Utah, and USC?
Brian Bennett: Navy is always difficult to play, but the Midshipmen are having trouble scoring points this year. I don't think the Irish will lose to them a second year in a row. With USC, who knows what the probation-saddled Trojans state of mind will be at the end of the year. It's a road game, so it will be tough, but USC is very beatable. Utah now looks like the hardest game remaining. That will be a very interesting contest, as both teams run similar styles. But the game is at home and Notre Dame should come into it with some momentum. All three look winnable right now, though a 2-1 record might be more realistic.
Jon M. from Orlando writes: NT Ian Williams is having a good year for the Irish. He has good mobility, strength, and quickness for his size which should pose well for him in the NFL. So, what qualities do you see in him; how does he compare to other NT's entering the draft; and what round do you project he will be selected? Thanks.
Brian Bennett: I mostly leave the draft stuff to the guys who follow that for a living. I can tell you that Mel Kiper currently doesn't have Williams on his list of top-five defensive tackles. But Williams is definitely rising and is having a terrific year. A lot of it is due to conditioning; he's in much better shape this year and can stay on the field longer while performing at a high level. And he's a much better fit as the nose tackle in a 3-4 than he was in last year's scheme. Williams is one of the most improved players on the team, for sure.
Marc from Dallas writes: Even though I probably already know the answer I have to ask! What are the chances Kyle Rudolph and Michael Floyd stick around for next year? I think it is going to take Dayne Crist this entire season to get his feet wet and get used to Coach Kelly's system. Next year could be a great one if they come back.
Brian Bennett: Both guys will have to weigh the potential impact of a possible NFL lockout and changes to the rookie salary scale. I think Floyd could use another year, honestly, to polish off his route running skills, and I could envision him having a monster senior campaign. Rudolph seems to me to be more NFL ready of the two. But I would think both would be high picks, and it will be awfully hard for them to turn that opportunity down.
Sam from Cape Coral, Fla., writes: I believe that Brian Kelly will get us back to winning consistently, but can he get us back to National Championship contenders and what would it take for us to achieve this goal?
Brian Bennett: I personally don't think we'll ever return to the days where Notre Dame is an annual national title contender. What I think the Irish should shoot for is being in the mix for at-large BCS bids just about every year, and then every few years when the stars align contend for the whole thing. The schedule is always going to present obstacles, and the Irish just about have to go undefeated to have a chance at it. What it's going to take is great recruiting, especially in the trenches, a team of veteran stars used to Kelly's system and a little bit of luck.