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May 4, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Brian Bennett

Brian Bennett
  (3:00 PM)

Good afternoon, everybody. Let's talk some Notre Dame football. Don't know if I'll go a full hour because we're just talking about one team, but it depends on how good your questions are. So fire away

V-Man (NYC)

How does the O-Line look? In particular, I'm concerned about the Tackle position. Thanks.

Brian Bennett
  (3:03 PM)

It's a work in progress, for sure. The staff moved a lot of guys around this spring to get an idea of who fits best where. Other than Chris Stewart at left guard, there's not really a definite position set in stone. The pieces are there, though, and Kelly's quick strike spread system places less of an emphasis on needing to hold onto to pass blocks for long

R.Riley (Tn)

Last year Kelly's team at cincinnati started out good all around but late in the year their defense gave up alot of points and when kelly has played really good teams like Virginia Tech and Oklahoma his team has got there hand handed to them. my question is do you think that Kelly can beat those caliber of teams in his system or do you think that his system is not championship caliber?

Brian Bennett
  (3:05 PM)

I think it's the players, not the system, and Kelly will have better players at Notre Dame. Not many teams go to Norman and come out with a W. The Virginia Tech game was not a blowout in any sense of the word. I have no doubt that Kelly will get it done, given time.

John (Sandy Hook, CT)

Will TJ Jones hold on to his starting role at WR come September, or will the likes of shaq, deon, or goodman emerge?

Brian Bennett
  (3:07 PM)

I think that if Jones was this good as a true freshman in the spring, that he will only get better over the summer. I would expect him to start.

Schreck (Iowa)

Cierre Wood looked great in the spring game, any idea of how big his role will be in the offense this year

Brian Bennett
  (3:09 PM)

Remember, it's just a spring game, and you have to look at who he was doing it against. I think Armando Allen is solidly the No. 1 tailback, but Wood could be a good backup

Kyle Long (San Francisco, CA)

Don't you think your Article about Notre Dame, in which you subtitled a portion "For Crist's Sake," is a bit off color considering you're writing about a Catholic institution? Perhaps you're unaware, but Catholics take offense to people using the Lord's name in vain. If you were writing an article about women's basketball would you use sexist slurs? Doubt it.

Brian Bennett
  (3:11 PM)

As a Catholic myself (and the product of 12 years of Catholic schooling) I say: lighten up, Kyle.

Brian Bennett
  (3:11 PM)

As a Catholic myself (and the product of 12 years of Catholic schooling) I say: lighten up, Kyle.

Joseph (CA)

What do you make of Michael Floyd bing moved into the slot position for the Spring game?

Brian Bennett
  (3:13 PM)

It was very interesting. Kelly said he was just evaluating and seeing what would happen. But I've got to think he has some ideas about how to use Floyd's size over the middle.

Phil F (Washingtonville New York)

ND's D line has been a serious concern year in and year out. A H.S. team could have ran all over ND the last several years. Is this the year ND finally shows some defensive avility up front.

Brian Bennett
  (3:14 PM)

Well, I'll say that this line is far more suited to the 3-4. Ian Williams, Ethan Johnson and Kapron Lewis-Moore have talent. They've got to translate that into better performance.

Anthony (NJ)

Everyone seems to be more worried about the defense next year and says the offense is coming around nicely. Im confused, the talent is undoubtedly there on the defense end, just have to put it all together, however, on offense, there are too many unprovens, ie, QB position and OL positions. We are replacing 3 OL and our star QB and WR. I am still nervous about the offense, more so than our defense...thoughts?

Brian Bennett
  (3:17 PM)

Well, I think when you have guys like Floyd, Rudolph, Allen, Riddick and Jones and with Brian Kelly calling the plays, the offense is going to be just fine. Maybe not best in the nation, but certainly good enough to win games. But the Irish have to prove they can stop somebody, which they haven't done much of lately.

jeff (south bend)

Any chance either one of the Freshman QB's coming in push for the starting spot?

Brian Bennett
  (3:20 PM)

I can definitely see one of them earning the No. 2 job. But I think Crist is solidly the starter, barring any health setbacks

Doug (Ft. Wayne)

Props for putting up a critical comment (re: article headline). I see this season being somewhat the opposite of the last two. 2008 and 2009 were decent starts with a flame out halfway through. This season seems to start off tougher, but then has a long stretch of very winnable games until USC. Thoughts?

Brian Bennett
  (3:22 PM)

All reasonable criticism is welcome. If Notre Dame can beat Michigan, I could see a 4-0 start heading to BC. Throw in what should be wins against Western Michigan, Tulsa and Army, and you're just a couple of swing games away from a nice season.

Chris (Chicago)

Your thoughts on the atrocious "We are ND" video?

Brian Bennett
  (3:25 PM)

It may be one of the two or three worst songs I've ever heard, and I can't believe anyone thought that song sounded good. Other than that, it's just a bit of silliness.

David (San Jose)

Do you think Notre Dame is too arrogant to realize the benefits of joining the Big Ten? Part of me thinks so, but who am I to judge tradition.

Brian Bennett
  (3:26 PM)

Arrogance is one way of looking at it. Notre Dame defines itself by its independence and national schedule, so pride, tradition and emotion play a big role in this as well.

Dan (Richmond)

Any word from Notre Dame on their seeming shift in scheduling practices? Western Michigan....Tulsa.....these aren't historic rivals that happen to be down lately (Army, Purdue, MSU, U-M); these are chosen.

Brian Bennett
  (3:27 PM)

Well, they want seven home games plus a neutral site game every year, and it's getting harder and harder to schedule teams for one-off games at your place. So that plays a big factor. Is there a desire to make the schedule a little more manageable as well? I think we know the answer to that.

Brandon (Toledo, OH)

I went to the spring game this year and have to say that I thought Montana was extremely impressive. Does Dayne have to worry about looking over his shoulder if he can't perform or does he have Kelly's confidence to stick in there through thick and thin?

Brian Bennett
  (3:29 PM)

Montana had a nice game, and it was a fun story. But realistically, he's never performed at a high level and isn't the most talented guy in the world. My bet is he's no better than No. 3 on the depth chart come September.

Matt (Philadelphia)

Coach Kelly says you need to combine an hour's worth of questions into 40 minutes. Just like their practices. Keep it moving.

Brian Bennett
  (3:29 PM)

I like it. We're moving pretty swiftly now.

Mike (New Jersey)

Is there any way that Theo Riddick be moved back to running back after this year? what are his chances of being a good receiver? Him and Wood would be a great tandem backfield.

Brian Bennett
  (3:31 PM)

Kelly sees this move as a way to maximize the talent, since Allen, Wood, Hughes and Gray can all do things at tailback. But it all depends on how well Riddick takes to the slot position, and whether there's injury or ineffectiveness at running back.

V-Man (NYC)

Real curious to hear your thoughts on the secondary. You've got experience and talent at CB (though they've underachieved) and some serious question marks at safety. What are the odds they can at least be average to slightly above average back there? Thanks.

Brian Bennett
  (3:33 PM)

You make good points. Kelly told me that he knows what good players look like, and he feels like he's got good players in the secondary. What might help this season is that Diaco's defensive system isn't a real aggressive, attacking scheme from a defensive backfield scenario. The DBs should have a little more protection instead of being left on an island while Tenuta blitzed all the time last year.

Aaron (Dublin, OH)

Do you agree that Coach Kelly has brought a new attitude to ND that has been missing since Lou left?

Brian Bennett
  (3:34 PM)

I think Kelly "gets it" more than any Notre Dame coach since Dr. Lou. And the thing they have in common is that both are great communicators/motivators. You can't underestimate that in the college game.

Scott (Oxford, MI)

Can Armando Allen expect 4 or 5 direct snap plays per game and Does Crist have the mobility to be a weapon in this offense?

Brian Bennett
  (3:35 PM)

Kelly didn't do much direct snap/Wildcat stuff at Cincinnati. It's a quarterback heavy offense. Crist showed some mobility before he got hurt. It remains to be seen how much that comes back in less than a year.

Chad (Lansing, MI)

MSU isn't down - we're merely normal, mediocre, Michigan State! We own ND, don't we BB?

Brian Bennett
  (3:37 PM)

Not last year. Rough offseason in East Lansing. But it'll be interesting to see Dantonio face off against the guy who succeeded him at Cincinnati.

Bob (LA)

Is a 11-0 start to the Notre Dame season realistic?

Brian Bennett
  (3:38 PM)

Nope. But if so, I guess Kelly will get a 10-year extension, right?

Jon (New Jersey )

Would you agree from a talent perspective USC is the only team on ND's schedule with better players?

Brian Bennett
  (3:40 PM)

No, not really. I think Pitt has more talent. Michigan, Stanford, Utah ... those teams can all play, regardless of recruiting rankings.

Steve (Ohio)

Brian- Do you see a big year for the Irish? or will it be more of the same 6-6?

Brian Bennett
  (3:41 PM)

Somewhere in between. I'm thinking it's an 8-win season, with the possibility for more if things break just right.

Matt (Grand Rapids)

Any chance we see Louis Nix anytime this season? Do you think in a couple of years he will become a difference maker on defense?

Brian Bennett
  (3:42 PM)

Ideally, you'd want to redshirt your linemen. But the Irish will probably need him.

Nick (Detroit)

Do people forget that Notre Dame lost to Michigan, UCONN, Navy and Stanford last year? And that was probably will more proven players than they have today. Delusion I tell you!

Brian Bennett
  (3:42 PM)

You're right, Nick, but every single one of those games went down to the wire. A little better coaching and motivation could make a huge, huge difference.

Zack (Bismarck)

Obviously Crist is going to be the starter as long as he is healthy but how close is he to being 100%? Is Montana capable of being a starter if he goes down or would it have to be a freshman?

Brian Bennett
  (3:44 PM)

Kelly estimated Crist was probably about 75 percent at the end of spring. He should be closer to 100 percent by September, but ACLs can be tricky sometimes.

Ken (Cleveland, OH)

How much of an impact do you think AD Jack Swarbrick will have on ND's success both this year and in the future? (Ex: training table)

Brian Bennett
  (3:45 PM)

Swarbrick understands ND's history and traditions as well as anybody, but he's also smart enough to make changes when needed, such as the training table. And he made a great hire for his football coach.

Leslie (Van Wert, OH)

B-squared! A date with your poster is on the line with your answer: ND will run for more yardage this season than last, yes or no?

Brian Bennett
  (3:48 PM)

Wow, talk about your blind dates. Well, let's see ... ND ran for 1,539 yards last year, compared to over 1,800 for Cincinnati. Kelly's '08 team ran for well over 1,600. So I'll say yes, the Irish surpass their '09 total this season.

Joe C (Kansas)

What is a realistic expectation of Brian Kelly as a recruiter? He has always done more with less, but that doesn't really mean he can land the players.

Brian Bennett
  (3:50 PM)

What he's been able to do is evaluate players for his system and then develop them, which is crucial. The recruiting guys say he's getting it done on the recruiting trail now. Combine his personality, system and everything Notre Dame offers, and there's no reason to think he can't get top classes. But the ratings don't mean anything if the guys can't play.

Dan (Austin, TX)

Brian, this is going to be an unpopular opinion here but isn't Notre Dame kind of not relevant to kids in high school today? I mean, why wouldn't you go to a Texas or Ohio State, you know teams that have been on top lately.

Brian Bennett
  (3:51 PM)

No, that's a very fair point, Dan. How many high school kids remember the glory days? Not many. What Notre Dame has going for it is it will always be an attractive destination for the Catholic school system kids, not to mention great academics and its constant exposure

Chris (DC)

Do you think Kelly has any pull with Swarbrick as whether or not to join the Big10?

Brian Bennett
  (3:52 PM)

That's a decision that will be made well above the football coach's head.

Brian Bennett
  (3:53 PM)

OK, guys and gals. We fit a lot of questions in today. More than I thought we would get. Thanks for your participation and interest. We'll talk again soon.