Chat with Brian Bennett
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com's Big East blogger Brian Bennett will stop by to talk some football.
Bennett joined ESPN.com in August 2008 after nine years at The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., where he covered college sports and the University of Louisville beat. He lives in Louisville.
Send your questions now and join Bennett Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Brian Bennett (4:00 PM)
Greetings, everybody. It's chat o' clock. Let's get to it
Brian, theres no doubt that Cincinnati is stacked at WR, but there are some concerns about them being thin at RB. What's your take?
Brian Bennett (4:01 PM)
With Pead, Goebel and Darrin Williams, I think they'll be OK. But they need a big and healthy year from Pead. And don't forget that Collaros will run the ball a lot, too.
Kevin (New Orleans, LA)
Hey Brian, as you can see I live pretty far away from New Jersey but am still a huge Rutgers fan. When are you planning on going to see a Rutgers spring practice and what are your thoughts about Antwan Lowery's transition to the offensive side of the line and his getting reps with the first team? As always, thanks for your work.
Brian Bennett (4:05 PM)
Kevin, you live in one of the great cities in America. Looking forward to watching "Treme" this Sunday. Anyway, I'm heading to Rutgers at the end of this week, actually. As for Lowery, he played some O-line in high school, and he's definitely a big body who may be more suited athletically to that side of the ball. Rutgers' line needs him, because things are thin there.
Dennis Bonar (Tampa, Fl)
I've been keeping up on the changes made in the depth charts and the offensive retooling since Skip took over. The changes have me really excited. With Lindsay Lamar moving to WR I'm thinking that will open up WR sweeps and WR option runs as well. Also Evan Landi at WR, I'm hoping to see him catching some screens and throwing the ball deep when the defense bites. This new scheme should keep opposing D on it's toes. I guess my question is with the offensive changes, do you expect to see a more aggressive offense with some more trickery thrown into the mix?(also I'm excited to see that our QB won't be the lead running back, and it looks like we're sswitching to a power run as well which fits the Big East profile in my opinion)
Brian Bennett (4:06 PM)
I do think you'll see Lamar used in a variety of ways, including those jet sweeps and screens. He's just so fast. I don't know about Landi throwing the ball, but he's got talent and is often compared to Kerry Meier from Kansas. I think just having some two back sets, more of a running game and less pressure on B.J. Daniels to do it all will help a lot, though the Bulls still need some big time wideouts.
Andrew (Emerald Isle, NC)
Brian, what is the official skinny on Deon Long, and Logan Heastie? These two were supposed to be the future of Mountaineer Receivers. Are they going to play or are they transfering?
Brian Bennett (4:08 PM)
My understanding is that they didn't want to put the work in during offseason conditioning. They both would be welcomed back if they chose to come back, but they'd have to do lots of makeup work (i.e. running the stadium steps). Not sure what they'll do yet, but if they want to play football in college, they're going to have to work hard to do it. So why not stay at WVU?
Greg P (Staten Island,NY)
Brian, what out of conf. game would boost the Big East's standing nationally the most?
Brian Bennett (4:09 PM)
If West Virginia could go on the road to beat LSU, that would be the biggest. On the road against an SEC team, by perhaps the league's marquee program. Cincinnati beating Oklahoma wouldn't be bad, either. Or USF over Florida.
Hey BB, I'm a senior staff writer for the student newspaper at the University of Pittsburgh, The Pitt News. I'm picking Rutgers to win the Big East this year in my upcoming column, followed by WVU and Pitt. Who ya got?
Brian Bennett (4:11 PM)
Randy, that's pretty bold. Rutgers is awfully young all over the field. I wouldn't pick them. As of the moment, I've got Pitt, but Cincinnati, WVU and UConn aren't far behind.
Pitt's offense is crazy good this year. Do you see them being the best unit in the Big East?
Brian Bennett (4:14 PM)
There's still the issue of quarterback, and a couple of spots on the O-line, notably center. But yeah, with Dion Lewis, Jon Baldwin, Ray Graham and Mike Shanahan, that's pretty good. I'd say Cincinnati is still formidable, too, though. And watch out for UConn if that passing game continues to develop.
Dennis Bonar (Tampa, FL)
In response to that I think we do have some big time wideouts, A.J. Love and Dontavia Bogan. I definately would look to them to make a huge impact this year.
Brian Bennett (4:15 PM)
But neither guy has really proved it. Love has had a couple of nice games but is not a burner. Bogan is fast but needs to improve his hands. We shall see.
Conner (Louisville, Ky)
What are the biggest differences in the Cardinals from last year to this year (so far)? A bigger emphasis on discipline and hustle? Optimism about the future, rather than frustration?
Brian Bennett (4:17 PM)
The biggest difference is the new coaching staff, which is really demanding a lot of their guys. But the talent just doesn't seem to be there, especially on defense. Optimism resides in the way Charlie Strong is recruiting. Help should be on the way.
Do you think Pitt's stellar offensive performance in this past scrimmage speaks more to the offensive talent or more to the defensive weaknesses? We all know this is going to be an exciting offense, but will the defense pick it up by Sept 2?
Brian Bennett (4:19 PM)
Well, Sheard and Romeus didn't play, and clearly the offense is a little ahead of the defense. But I think Pitt will be OK on that side of the ball. There's plenty of talent available.
john hawk (houston texas)
do you think the offensive line at wvu has enough new talent to improve over last year.
Brian Bennett (4:21 PM)
New talent? Four of the five starters are back and they took almost every snap last season. It's going to be the same guys who need to improve. But remember this was a young line last season, so there should be some progress.
Will SU's defense and running game be good enough to make the team bowl eligable???
Brian Bennett (4:22 PM)
I actually think Syracuse has a chance. If the Orange can beat either BC or Washington, and assuming the TBA game is not terribly challenging, they can get to four non-conference wins. Then all they have to do is go 2-5 in the Big East to get to 6-6. That sounds attainable to me.
Rodney (Bogata , Colombia)
Brian , who will be the highest Big East player taken in the draft this year ? What do you expect from Syracuse this year ? It would be nice for college football for them to get back at some respectable level sometime in the near future. Don't you agree?
Brian Bennett (4:24 PM)
Bogota, eh? I think it will be Jason Pierre-Paul. It probably should be Anthony Davis, but he may slip over some concerns about his work ethic.
Randy Edsall (East Hartford, CT)
Hi Brian-what position should I be most excited about heading into this year?
Brian Bennett (4:26 PM)
Running back, linebacker and defensive tackle should be strong. But the offensive line has been the staple for the Huskies, and it ought to be very good again.
Hi Brian,Remember when the Big East wanted to bring in UL, USF, and Cinci a year early? Not sure myself, but I was wondering how much stronger you think the BE would have been if that great Louisville team of 2004 was a part of the conference then. It might have been 4 BCS wins in a row if that happened.
Brian Bennett (4:28 PM)
Not sure how much that would have helped because A) Louisville might well have run into that Utah buzz saw and B) it's really about what have you done for me lately, not what might have happened six years ago.
Darien Clark (Syracuse, NY)
Where would you rank Syracuse's starting LB corps (Smith, Hogue and Gillum) in the Big East?
Brian Bennett (4:30 PM)
I wouldn't rank it above UConn, and Pitt and WVU are strong there too. But Syracuse has a chance to have one of the best linebacking groups
I actually think the biggest concern for Rutgers this year is depth (or lack thereof) at the QB position - especially with a new OL. What have you heard regarding the development of Shimko or if they think Dodd will be ready this year.
Brian Bennett (4:32 PM)
No doubt that is a major concern. The falloff from Savage to the next guy would be huge. The other worry is a new offensive line and how well it can keep Savage from getting hit, because he's got to stay healthy. I actually think if he got hurt you'd see Sanu there a lot.
Terry (the 'Burgh)
Tino Sunseri is "listed" at 6-2 but isn't ... by inches. Do you know how tall he actually is? I'm wondering if Pitt must switch to a roll-out type offense -- which I cannot forsee happening -- just to allow him to see over his OL.
Brian Bennett (4:34 PM)
I'd be surprised if he was anything over 6-feet. That's not necessarily a major problem. Smaller quarterbacks have been able to succeed at the college level. He's no shrimp.
Which head coach would you say is the best recruiter in the Big East right now? And how would you rank the others?
Brian Bennett (4:37 PM)
I'd say that honor has to go to Wannstedt with the consistency he's shown and the talent that Pitt has accrued on his watch. You'd have to put Schiano and Stewart up there, too. Strong, Jones and Holtz are all getting started but have had some promising results thus far. And Edsall is the best at unearthing gems.
Terry (the 'Burgh)
Newspapers say the International Bowl will die because the Big East refused to re-up. Why would the league take that hard line? Doesn?t the Big East need all the bowl ties it can get?
Brian Bennett (4:39 PM)
The Big East switched to the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. The league has six bowl tie-ins for eight teams, which is enough. No one is sad to see the International Bowl die.
Brian, if you've restricted the expansion talk ban, here's a question for you: how many teams would have to leave the Big East in order for it to no longer be a football BCS conference (as in disband for football, and become a basketball-only conference)?
Brian Bennett (4:40 PM)
It would be hard for the Big East to maintain its BCS status with anything less than 8 teams. But it depends on who the league might bring in as a replacement. If, as some have floated, the Big Ten goes to 16 and takes four Big East teams, the league would essentially be done as a major player in football.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Which College Football Players that played for Syracuse in 2009 will play in the NFL in 2010?
Brian Bennett (4:42 PM)
Arthur Jones. And possibly Mike Williams.
Conner (Louisville, Ky)
After seeing the Cards practice, did any of the QB's really stand out, or were Justin Burke and Adam Froman pretty much evenly splitting snaps? I feel like Froman is probably the better QB for Strong's offense, what do you think?
Brian Bennett (4:43 PM)
It seemed pretty even. But if Strong and Sanford really want to incorporate quarterback runs a la Urban Meyer, then Froman seems like the obvious choice. He's got the better wheels by far
Terry (the 'Burgh)
Lemme see if I have this straight: the senior writer of Pitt's campus newspaper is picking the home team 3rd in BEast? Not even a homer nod? Especially when the Panthers should be very good this year (if the QB is adequate or better).
Brian Bennett (4:44 PM)
I admire his journalistic integrity, if not his prognosticating powers. Then again, I picked Rutgers last year, so what do I know?
janet (Panama City Beach, FL)
Do you agree with the Orlando Sentinel that Skip Holtz is the most approachable coach in Florida? By being approachable, our team should receive more press in the state and national news media. Do you believe this will help USF recruit more stand-outs in the years to follow? Winning helps, of course, but so does TV time.
Brian Bennett (4:46 PM)
Holtz is definitely the most media-friendly coach in the state. But nothing beats winning, especially when Florida, Florida State and Miami have a head start in other areas.
Dust in the wind (d.c.)
IN your estimation, what are the chances Pitt ends the season with the same starting quarterback it starts the season with.
Brian Bennett (4:49 PM)
Here's a list of Big East schools that had one quarterback take every meaningful snap in 2009: Pitt. That's the list. The Panthers were fortunate in 2009 to keep Bill Stull healthy. The odds that there's not at least one injury that requires a second quarterback for a second year in a row seem slim.
Who wil lhave more loses in the upcoming season, the UCONN football team or the UCONN Women's BB team?
Brian Bennett (4:49 PM)
Do the UConn women ever lose? Perhaps we should be talking about contracting the women's tournament.
Since you have seen both BK and Butch Jones run practices, what would you say are the big differences.
Brian Bennett (4:50 PM)
There are more assistants yelling and running around at Jones' practices. It's a little more high-tempo than Kelly's were, which is saying something.
Todd (Pittsburgh PA)
BB, I was surprised that Cignetti announced that Sunseri is the starter when spring drills had barely begun -- was this more a case of Sunseri making that much progress or Bostick failing to show much, if any, improvement?
Brian Bennett (4:52 PM)
I heard he referred to him as the No. 1 quarterback, not necessarily saying he's the definite starter. But it's been a poorly kept secret that Sunseri is the guy they favor. He'd have to lose the job this spring, methinks, to not be starting in the fall.
Conner (Louisville, Ky)
Who do you think will win BE coach of the year next year?
Brian Bennett (4:55 PM)
Well, we know it won't be Brian Kelly for a change. I'm going to play a hunch and say Doug Marrone.
Brian Bennett (4:57 PM)
OK, guys. I've got to jump off and get over to a football practice for interviews. Thanks for all the questions today.