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)
Conference play is in full swing, the second half of the season has started and I just finished a four-mile run. So I'm grateful to be sitting down and chatting football with you. Bring on your best Big East and Notre Dame questions now.
Chase (Harrisonburg, Va)
Which game are you more excited for BB: to see if South Florida can continue to crash the party in Morgantown, or to see how competitive Syracuse can be in arguably their toughest game of the season?
Brian Bennett (4:01 PM)
I'm more excited about Syracuse and seeing if they're for real. I want to see a sold-out, rocking Carrier Dome for the first time in my years on the blog. I don't think USF has enough offense to win in Morgantown
Tony (Miami Heights, OH)
Brian - Can you give me two key match-ups that need to go the Cards way in order for UofL to beat UC on Fri night?
Brian Bennett (4:04 PM)
I'll say the running game on both sides. Louisville is susceptible to being overpowered because it is undersized up front. If Isaiah Pead gets rolling, Cincinnati could score a ton of points. On the other side if Bilal Powell and Vic Anderson can control the game on the ground, Louisville will keep Collaros on the sideline.
At what percent do you think we will see Noel Devine tomorrow night? He didn't look too bad in just three carries against UNLV for being injured.
Brian Bennett (4:05 PM)
Noel Devine told Bruce Feldman he's probably between 80 and 90 percent. (And if you haven't read Feldman's piece on Devine that's on our site right now, you really should. After this chat, of course).
Hi, How are you? What is your opinion on Brian Kelly passing the ball on a 2 and 4 with about 2:00 left in the game and then passing again on third down taking little time off the clock on each play. Pitt also did not have to use their TO's? Why pass in that situation? Run the ball, take time off the clock, make Pitt use their TO's no?
Brian Bennett (4:07 PM)
I see what you're saying, but if Mike Ragone catches that short pass when he's wide open, that's a first down and game over. Notre Dame is a passing team, and when the players get the offense down, those short passes will be as good as a run.
What do you think the chances are WVU wins out? A lot of people think it's going to happen I still think they will slip up at least once in big east play.
Brian Bennett (4:08 PM)
Check out my second-half predictions video which will post about 4:30. I've got WVU going 6-1 in Big East play, finishing at 10-2
Tulane beat Rutgers and Army pounded Tulane, but that was with the anemic Savage-led offense. Army is supposed to be much improved, but Rutgers has a ton of talent and maybe the best defense in the Big East. Throw in the "neutral" atmosphere of the New Meadlowlands Stadium to boot. What do we make of this matchup?
Brian Bennett (4:11 PM)
Very interesting matchup simply because Army is so different with its spread triple option and multiple-look defense. Will Chas Dodd be ready for all those looks? Rutgers has played the option pretty well and should be able to hold the score down defensively enough to win, I think
Everyone counted Cincinnati out after the early losses on the road to NC State and Fresno St. But with RB Isaah Pead back from injury the Bearcat Offense has come alive. Do you think they have a legitimate chance to Three Peat as Big East Champs??
Brian Bennett (4:13 PM)
I think the Bearcats have the best chance outside of West Virginia. Unfortunately for them they have to go to Morgantown. That might be the difference.
Brian since ND is putting in a new scheme with new coach and QB would it be fair to say that they will be improving throughout the year especially with the next three opponents while Utah has already hit its stride and USC has peaked and possibly on the downturn. With all that do you see the Irish going a possible 9-3?
Brian Bennett (4:15 PM)
The offense should improve, though of course losing Rudolph is a big setback. Still, the next three weeks should give the Irish an opportunity to work on things. I said 8-4 before the season and I'm sticking by that
Will (Washington, DC)
This is jumping the gun, but is Doug Marrone possibly the kind of coach the Big East has been missing, a great coach who has no interest in being anywhere other than the Big East school he is currently coaching at?
Brian Bennett (4:16 PM)
It is really jumping the gun to call him great. As far as not wanting to be anywhere else, you can say the same for Wannstedt and Stewart and, based on their longevity at least, Schiano and Edsall
Andrew (Storrs, CT)
I've always been a big Randy Edsall supporter. But there is a large contigent of Husky fans who think he's done a nice job building the program but has taken it as far as he can. I'm finding it more difficult to defend him now. We've had one winning BE season. I think it's fair to expect more. What arguments (if any) do I use in defense of Edsall these days?
Brian Bennett (4:18 PM)
The defense is, Edsall built this program and where would you be without him? Who do you think UConn could legitimately hire who would do a better job? Edsall is an excellent coach, though this season does not represent his finest work. So far.
Brandt (Clifton , NJ)
That fact that you ranked pitt last in your rankings is a complete joke. Pitt is a way better team then every team in the BE except maybe WVU if we had any decent qb play we could have been 4-1 possibly 5-0.
Brian Bennett (4:19 PM)
Hmm, OK, well the bottom line is Pitt is 2-3 and hasn't beaten anybody. I don't think they're the worst team in the league, but they've got nothing on the resume to suggest otherwise.
Why does the BE get so much bad press when ACC is no better and the WAC and MW besides the last couple of years were one team wonders. Do really beleive that Bosie, TCU, Utah or Nev could compete in any of the 6 BCS confereces over years and still be undeated every year or any year. The BE was good 06, 07 and 08.
Brian Bennett (4:21 PM)
The ACC has more "brand name" teams and has higher recruiting rankings. But you're right, that league hasn't been appreciably better than the Big East for the past five years. Heather Dinich and I can commiserate together when the BCS standings come out
David (South Bend)
If Notre Dame can click for four quarters, how good could they be?
Brian Bennett (4:22 PM)
Remains to be seen, doesn't it? The Irish can go up 21-0 on Boston College in the first quarter and then taper off. They won't fully click until Dayne Crist grasps the spread completely and they eliminate the little mistakes like penalties and dropped passes.
Softer body of work so far: UConn, Cuse or USF?
Brian Bennett (4:24 PM)
Well, since Syracuse beat South Florida and UConn has at least beaten a BCS team (granted, Vandy), it has to be USF. Wins are over Stony Brook, Florida Atlantic and Western Ky. Yawn
John (Morristown, NJ)
In your blog you noted that Dodd faked the throw to thomas in the flat before going downfield to Harrison. To me it looked like Thomas was the intended target before he opted to go for the bomb. It was reported as such in the Ledger. Very impressed with this kid's poise. Throws a great deep ball. Could have had another 100yds and a score easily if not for drops.
Brian Bennett (4:25 PM)
He definitely pumped the throw that way, and if it's true that he spotted Harrison for the bomb and kept his eyes downfield than I'm even more impressed with him
Chris (Annapolis, MD)
I am a huge Pitt fan and was wondering if the Panthers will consider a switch to Pat Bostick at QB in order to save the season
Brian Bennett (4:27 PM)
Pat Bostick isn't a season-saver. Sunseri showed some improvement against Notre Dame, and if he keeps that up, he'll be fine.
Why is Vic Anderson not seeing the ball as much from the backfield? Is Bilal Powell that much better?
Brian Bennett (4:28 PM)
Have you seen Powell's numbers? He's No. 8 in the FBS in rushing. Dude is a beast right now.
Mark (Katy, TX)
Brian, In your mailbag you said that there weren't any great options behind BJ Daniels, but how long do you think Daniels has to struggle before they try Eveld or someone else? So far he's shown no signs of progress.
Brian Bennett (4:29 PM)
I just don't think you turn to a walk-on or another true freshman in Gunsby. Those guys aren't the long term answers. You have to ride it out with Daniels and hopes he gets better.
how long do you think the alumni (money people) and the new AD will put up with Stewart at WVU. I think he is a nice guy, but his and Mullens game day coaching is terrible
Brian Bennett (4:31 PM)
Yeah, I know, right? Wasn't that UNLV game just awful? I mean, they didn't even score 50 points! And they're only 4-1 and in the Top 25 with the lone loss at LSU. The whole staff should be fired and the school should drop football immediately.
Musashi Nagai (New Brunswick, New Jersey)
Brian i remember in the preseason you said one of Rutgers biggest concerns was there QB depth and how behind Savage they had no one and would be in trouble if he got injured. Him getting injured was a blessing in disguise for us. Thinking of taking those comments back anytime soon?
Brian Bennett (4:31 PM)
Well, sure. But did anyone else really think a 6-foot true freshman quarterback was going to be the savior? I sure didn't hear anybody say that.
Miles (Morgantown, WV)
Do you think Geno Smith could take home Big East Player of the Year honors?
Brian Bennett (4:32 PM)
That's exactly what I'm predicting.
No going to dog you but just want to know the reasoning why Delone Carter got a helmet sticker over Noel Devine, Carter racked up 105 yds on 26 carries and Devine racked up 84 with 23 fewer carries and 2 of them were TDs. Keep up the good work
Brian Bennett (4:34 PM)
I gave one to Brad Starks and only get to hand out 5. Besides, Carter did it in a conference game on the road in Syracuse's biggest win in four years
Chris Monti (Toronto, Ontario)
If Chas Dodd plays great against Army to get Rutgers to 4-2, is the QB job Dodd's until the end of the year? If Dodd leads Rutgers to a decent bowl game and puts up great stats the rest of the way, any chance that Savage transfers to another school?
Brian Bennett (4:35 PM)
You have to stay with the hot hand while you're winning, but I don't think we've seen the last of Savage this year, whether it's due to injury or ineffectiveness by Dodd. It is an amazing thing to ponder, though.
After WVU crushes USF can we drop this whole "USF has WVU number" stuff. They have split the last two games and the record is only 3-2 in USF's favor, and the total scores are 95-92 in USF's favor. That is pretty darn even, not a one sided affair like you make it out to be.
Brian Bennett (4:36 PM)
Ah, statistics. How about this one: USF has beaten West Virginia three of the last four years. Name another Big East team that's done that.
BB,No love for Jabal Sherd in the defensive POY? i know Pitt is 2-3 but he has been a machine coming off the edge, especially with the double teams that normally focus on Romeous.
Brian Bennett (4:37 PM)
He was No. 6 on my list this week, but I only listed the top five. He's having a good year but needs his team to win more games
There is a very real possibility that the Big East champ will be unranked or at best ranked 20-25. Please explain how that deserves an automatic trip to a BCS game.
Brian Bennett (4:39 PM)
Jay, deserve's got nothing to do with it. That's the way the system is set up, and the Big East champ will go even if it's 7-5.
Conner (Louisville, Ky)
Will you be catching any UofL home games this year? Which game do you think will tell the most about how Louisville's season will go in the BE?
Brian Bennett (4:40 PM)
I'd sure like to go to some since that means less travel for me. I think the next two are big: Cincinnati and UConn are home. Both are winnable, and Louisville needs to get one of them at least.
Of ND's next 3 opponents, Tulsa worries me the most. What do you think?
Brian Bennett (4:41 PM)
Tulsa is only 3-3 but they can sure score. If they make it a shootout, they have a chance. I still think Navy is the toughest, even though this doesn't appear to be a great Navy team.
I know that a lot of people want to call Dodd the savior at Rutgers after 1 1/2 games-But how do you think that he will play against a Double Eagle Flex defense that Army uses??? The other scary thing for Rutgers fans to ponder is that in his Big East confernce call this week Schiano stated that he has watched Army's option film from LAST year to prepare!!! I don't know if Coach Schiano knows or not but Army's option is much, much different and evolved from 09'
Brian Bennett (4:42 PM)
That's a real key this week. And yes, Schiano said he realized Army was doing different things just last week and it will be a race against the clock to get prepared. I thought that was a rather candid admission on his part.
It's about time that the Big East tells ND either you're in for football or out for everything else...
Brian Bennett (4:42 PM)
No, it really isn't.
If Pitt continues on the verge of a disasterous season, is Wannstadt in any kind of trouble. Do we have a Jim Leavitt situation in that we have a good coach that will keep things interesting but will never get us over the edge? I know Wanny has done magical things with recruiting and turned the program around but I'm starting to wonder with his play-calling philosophy, will we ever turn the corner and be a relivant program again.
Brian Bennett (4:44 PM)
I don't think Wannstedt is in any kind of trouble unless the team loses all the rest of its games or something crazy like that. He is very well-liked by the administration and just signed an extension in the offseason. And like I said in the Edsall question earlier, who do you think Pitt could legitimately hire who would be better?
Regarding the USF-WVU debate, as I USF fan I'd classify all 3 USF wins as upsets. I've never felt we 'had their number', but sure felt lucky to pull them out. That may be why these wins got so much attention. Thoughts?
Brian Bennett (4:45 PM)
The one place USF has "had WVU's number" is on defense. Even when Pat White was around, West Virginia had trouble scoring against the Bulls because of their speed. I'm interested to see if that changes this week now that the Mountaineers have a credible passing attack
Why cant the Big East Network pay ND the same as NBC and include them with the network and have a better chance of success. And still let them be independent for football?
Brian Bennett (4:47 PM)
If you're Notre Dame, do you want the exposure of being NBC's only college property or commit to some as-yet-unformed Big East Network which may or may not exist in the future?
How many wins does ND need for a champs invite?
Brian Bennett (4:48 PM)
At least seven. Anything better than 6-6 allows them to take the bid.
Does West Virginia have the most unrealistic, unwarranted bashing, and completely ridiculous (yet passionate) fans in the country? This fire Bill Stewart campaign is getting out of hand.
Brian Bennett (4:48 PM)
All fans can be crazy, but for people to be asking for Stewart to be fired when his team is 4-1 and ranked is beyond ludicrous. Can we at least let this season play out first?
WVU mainly struggles against USF when they play in FL. This is at home.......no way they lose; they can't for the Big East's sake..
Brian Bennett (4:49 PM)
Again, not really true. USF won in Morgantown in 2006 and lost only 13-7 in 2008 during the White Out in the snow. But I don't think the Bulls win this year.
David (Rutherford, NJ)
How do you see the next three games playing out for the Orange - Pittsburgh, at West Virginia, and at Cincy? I know these teams are more talented, but I feel that Syracuse with the way its defense can play - can probably hang around with all of them. Is 2-1 through that stretch believable?
Brian Bennett (4:50 PM)
Believable but not real likely. The Orange need to beat Pitt because they have all the momentum and will be at home (and if that is not a sold out crowd, I will be baffled).
Steve (Salt Lake)
Hey B - Do you think UTAH can and/or will beat ND Nov 13th? Given they play TCU at home the week before which will be huge here.
Brian Bennett (4:51 PM)
Can? Sure. The Utes are really good and should be favored in that game. Getting them after the TCU game at home is an advantage for Notre Dame, for sure.
Byron (St.petersburg FL,)
hey brian what do you think of Joshua Bellamy the Louisville Cardinal wr JUCO transfer so far?
Brian Bennett (4:52 PM)
He's starting to make a lot of strides and become a playmaker. He's a confident kid, too. I like watching him play
Has TCU been officially extended an invitation by the Big East ?Or is this still in the back room discussion stage ?
Brian Bennett (4:54 PM)
My understanding is that it's up to TCU to decide if it wants to make that move. I believe the Big East would bend over backward to welcome the Horned Frogs.
Weather is supposed to be pretty sloppy here tomorrow night. Do you think that might work in USF's favor to slow down Noel, Jock or Tavon?
Brian Bennett (4:55 PM)
Could be cool, rainy and windy. Since USF barely has a passing game at this point, I think the Bulls would be happy to see that.
Carl (Stamford, CT)
Brian, you have WVU at 6-1 in the league...who do you predict this loss to?
Brian Bennett (4:57 PM)
It's bold enough to predict a record in this unpredictable league. I think they lose to either UConn or Pitt. How about that?
Craig (Statesville, NC)
How long can ND continue with mediocrity and still get their big TV contracts and stay independent?
Brian Bennett (4:58 PM)
As long as the checks keep clearing.
Many believe for the Big East to be successful the Orange need to once again be at the top of the league. Do you believe this or do the past few years prove otherwise?
Brian Bennett (4:58 PM)
Top of the league, no. But having Syracuse just be competitive again will help a great deal. Same goes for Louisville.
John (Bartow, Fl)
Your crazy if you think Pitt beats WVU...
Brian Bennett (5:00 PM)
Game's on the road, rivalry game, WVU may have the league title wrapped up by then ... I'm not saying it will happen, but it's not crazy at all. Check the scores of the last three games.
Brian Bennett (5:00 PM)
OK, that's all my time for this week. Hope you all enjoy the games this weekend, beginning tomorrow night.