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April 27, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Brian Bennett

Brian Bennett
  (4:00 PM)

Good afternoon, everybody, and welcome to another Big East/Notre Dame football chat. I'm taking a break from building my ark, because it's been raining here for about three solid weeks now

Brian Bennett
  (4:00 PM)

Also, rumor has it that it's my birthday. So there's that. Fire away with your best questions.

Daniel (WV)

Over/under on WVU scoring 450 points this season (including bowl game)

Brian Bennett
  (4:02 PM)

That's 34.6 ppg, if my math is correct (a giant if). I'm going to go conservative and take the under on that (barely).

Mark (NYC)

It's my birthday too. How are you going to celebrate?

Brian Bennett
  (4:03 PM)

You must be really cool, Mark. I'm celebrating by chatting with you guys, of course.

Jacob (Morgantown, West Virginia)

Do you think an attendance record will be set for Friday's Spring Game at WVU? Last years record was set at around 21k I think

Brian Bennett
  (4:04 PM)

My experience is that spring games are almost solely dependent on the weather, because people with any intelligence aren't going to sit through the cold and rain to watch a football practice. But if it's nice in Morgantown, the huge curiosity factor on Dana Holgorsen makes me think the crowd will be very large.

Joe (NY)

Will the new Pitt offense look like the Brian Kelley Cincinnati offense of 09?

Brian Bennett
  (4:06 PM)

There should be some similarities, especially with the tempo and the use of the shotgun. But Pitt relies a little more on the running game and some zone read stuff. Maybe more like the '09 Cincy offense when Zach Collaros was in there

Nick (South Bend)

What will ND's record against the Big 10 be this year?

Brian Bennett
  (4:07 PM)

I think the Irish handle Michigan and Purdue. Michigan State is the tough one, but it's at home. I'll go 2-1 to be safe, but 3-0 certainly possible.

Jacob (Morgantown)

Happy birthday! I was trying to think of a good question, but couldn't, so happy birthday anyways!

Brian Bennett
  (4:07 PM)

That's a great question!

Bill (Rochester, NY)

I know Uconn doesnt come to the dome until 2012, but what type of reception does Coach P get when they return? Does the outcome of this years game have any affect?

Brian Bennett
  (4:09 PM)

I would think Coach P gets a nice reception. He was well liked by most, and though the end of his tenure saw the team slip into mediocrity, it looks a whole lot better after the Greg Robinson Error. And it's not like he voluntarily left for another job or embarrassed the school in any way.

Greg (Chicago)

Happy Birthday! What will ND's record be against the BE this year?

Brian Bennett
  (4:10 PM)

The games are against South Florida in the opener and at Pitt. Both could be close, and Floyd might not play against USF. Remember too that Todd Graham beat ND last year in South Bend. Still, I'd favor the Irish in both those games.

Bearcatvol (Dalton, GA)

I was glad to see Derek Wolfe get some attention from the "draft expert". It seems like you leave him off a lot of lists. Is it really a defensive tackle's fault that his defensive backs can't figure out the wheel route? Speaking of Bearcat DB's was the staff happy with their progress in spring?

Brian Bennett
  (4:12 PM)

Wolfe played a ton of snaps last year and gave it his all. He's a talented guy, but when the rest of your defense is bad it's hard to get noticed. As for the DB's, it sounds like they still have a long way to go. It's a real concern.

Velden Linn (Columbus, OH)

BB, first off, Happy Birthday! Secondly, we've heard a lot about a number player possibly getting the start at tailback for WVU this season. Who do you think is the front-runner right now and who will ultimately win the job? Thanks!

Brian Bennett
  (4:14 PM)

Clarke and Alston have been banged up, so Trey Johnson and Vernard Roberts have been getting the majority of the reps. Sounds like Roberts, a true frosh, has the edge right now. Don't forget about Buie coming in this summer. This competition should go into the fall.

Gleash (Pittsburgh)

Do any Pitt players go in the first round?

Brian Bennett
  (4:15 PM)

I don't think any Big East players come off the board Thursday night. Baldwin has the best chance, but I think lingering concerns over him will keep him out of the first round.

george (boca raton(FL))

Given all of the new coaches & coordinators this year in the BE, do you see offenses start slow this year? I'll trade you some sun for rain, we need rain down here. It is always 85

Brian Bennett
  (4:17 PM)

I'll take that trade in a heartbeat, George. I do think there will be some growing pains, especially at UConn and Rutgers and probably Pitt and WVU. But can the offenses really be any worse than last year? At least there will be more experienced QBs around the league.

Ralph (Lanark WV)

While I'm sure having more players drafted would help the Big East's image, I never get too worked up about it. Most of the "blue chip" players always seem to go to the perenial powers like Florida, Ohio State, etc. I believe the strength of schools like WV is having coaches that can recruit and develop players to fit their program. I can't remember the last 1st round draft choice from WV, but their have been some noteable lower draft round players that have done pretty well, like Jeff Hostetller and Marc Bulger. Right now all I'm waiting for is Sept 4th to get here.

Brian Bennett
  (4:19 PM)

I see what you're saying, Ralph, and I'm someone who's continually baffled by all the interest in the NFL Draft. Just tell me the results when it's over and let's all move on with our lives. Still, I do think that for a Big East team to get to the next level, to really compete for a national title and BCS bowl wins, it needs to have some first- and second-round talent on the roster.

John Olesky (Tallmadge, Oh)

How much do you think Dana Holgorsen will call the offense plays, even if it's to decide on a field goal or a TD attempt, and how much input and decision-making will Bill Stewart have? Or will Stewart just be the Queen of England, whose only responsibility is to wave to the crowd? And will Jeff Casteel have a bigger say in what the defense does than he did in previous seasons under Bill Stewart? This coach-in-waiting and who runs what show should be interesting this season.

Brian Bennett
  (4:20 PM)

What Stewart told me this spring was that he rarely gets on the headset except between series. He'll call the big-picture stuff -- like whether to go for it on 4th down -- but he'll leave the playcalling to Holgorsen and Casteel. As he should.

Zach (Baltimore)

Brian - Happy Birthday. I sent you Natalie Portman jumping out of a large cake. Enjoy.

Brian Bennett
  (4:21 PM)

I can't wait. Though her baby daddy might not like that.

Matt (Oklahoma City, OK)

Better northeast Trio, the MAC (Buffalo, Temple and Umass) or the Big East (Syracuse, Rutgers and Uconn)?

Brian Bennett
  (4:21 PM)

Really?

Bullaficianado (Winter Haven, FL)

What's your opinion on B.J. Daniels, do you expect drastic improvement (a la our bowl game) or more of the poor decisions we saw last year?

Brian Bennett
  (4:22 PM)

I don't know about drastic, but I do think the second year in the system will help. We did see his decision making improve during the course of the year. My bigger concern is whether he has the receivers. In the spring, he didn't make bad throws, but his receivers didn't help him out much.

Shawn W (Manchester, CT)

Uconn started off bad due to QB INACCURACY!!! This year the defense will carry the team. With the schedule for Uconn I don't like night games unless they are on a friday or saturday.What type of season do you think Uconn will have this year: a excellent season (11-1)? a ok season (9-3 or 8-4)? a not so good season (7-5 or 6-6? or do you think uconn will have a horrendous season less than 6 wins?

Brian Bennett
  (4:24 PM)

I think UConn has the best chance of backsliding. And when you think about it, they were only 8-5 last year, and now they have a new QB, new RB and new head coach and coordinators. The nonconference schedule is easy though, and 4-1 should be the worst mark they do out of conference. I see a 7-5 type of year.

Quinton Spain (Morgantown, WV)

Any advice to help me lose these last 20 pounds before the season starts? Don't even mention Law School Hill...the thought makes my stomach turn.

Brian Bennett
  (4:24 PM)

I'm a runner, so run, big fella!

I Pead (Clifton)

Number 5? What can I do to be Number 1????

Brian Bennett
  (4:25 PM)

You were actually No. 3 on Mel's list. Don't worry about 2012 draft projections at this point. Pead needs to be more consistent, especially in the little things like blocking and blitz pickup. The rest is there.

Daniel (Wilmington, DE)

Based on what you've seen, isn't Bruce Irvin a better pass rusher and draft prospect than Jason Pierre-Paul was at this point in their careers?

Brian Bennett
  (4:26 PM)

As crazy as it sounds given Irvin's talent, Pierre-Paul was a better all-around athlete. And he was taller and stronger.

tom (NYC)

What's the story with the Rutgers o-line? Anemic displays in practice and injuries seems to be mounting. Should I be worried yet?

Brian Bennett
  (4:29 PM)

Well, we couldn't expect miracles. Injuries have hurt, and Hendrickson wasn't looking like the answer he was advertised to be before the knee injury. I think there have been some small encouraging signs, and Wynn will be back. Baby steps.

Nick (Hartford CT)

Out of the QB's that Uconn has to Offer for this Yr.. If u where a new Head coach to a program would u go with the experiance in Box, or someone different?? who do u think would help Uconn win the most games at QB this yr.

Brian Bennett
  (4:30 PM)

It's not like Box has a lot of experience -- one start, and a disastrous one at that. So leave that out of it. A lot of people thought McCummings looked the best this spring. None of them really stood out from what I could tell.

Charles (Louisville, Ky)

Brian, can you give us any update regarding Villanova and its potential upgrade to BE Football? Depending on the journal or publication, some are saying that Nova is dragging its feet while others say that four BE schools (i.e. Pitt, Rutgers, WVU and Louisville) are balking at Nova's wish to upgrade.

Brian Bennett
  (4:32 PM)

Villanova is ready to go (well, they're ready to join, at least). Big East teams aren't agreed whether it's a good idea yet. Still up in the air at this point.

Kyle (Morgantown WV)

Any word on Tevita Finau finaly getting to Morgantown?

Brian Bennett
  (4:33 PM)

Ha. Any day now.

Roscoe (Morgantown)

I know it is a long shot but...what would have to happen for WVU to get to the BCS Championship game?

Brian Bennett
  (4:34 PM)

It is a long shot, especially with a rebuilt defense and a new offensive system. But if the Mountaineers can go undefeated with a win over LSU, and LSU contends in the SEC, WVU will be in good position. Like any Big East team, it would need some dominoes to fall in other power leagues.

Adam (New Brunswick)

Have you gotten a chance to see Rutgers this spring? I know the offense has been lagging behind but that is too be expected with a new system and coming off the worst year in division 1 history sack wise. But do you think Schiano going to more speed will help with the spread? I have gotten sick of the past two years seeing Cincys offense put up 69 and 47 points in two games.

Brian Bennett
  (4:36 PM)

I didn't make it to Piscataway this spring. Being better against the spread is one of the reasons for the personnel switches, but I wonder if scheme has something to do with it too. If you blitz as much as the Scarlet Knights do and don't get there, the spread can hurt you.

john (cincinnati)

hey brian, i have an april b-day as well. i would enjoy seeing a comparison of the ooc schedules of the 6 bcs conferences since the big east typically plays tough ooc games. i think most big east fans see that many so-called traditional top 20 schools will not give big east schools a home & home series. your thoughts?

Brian Bennett
  (4:37 PM)

Happy birthmonth. Well, I can't do that type of comparison in this format, but I will say the Big East's nonconference schedule is not as strong this year. Some of that has to do with teams that were scheduled in advance -- like USC, Tennessee and Miami -- being a little down this year.

Quinton Spain (Morgantown, WV)

Come run Law School Hill with me. We will talk about how much you like running afterwards.

Brian Bennett
  (4:38 PM)

I will if you come run the half-marathon I'm doing Saturday with me, big fella

Brian (Columbus, OH)

How big of a concern is WVUs o-line this spring with the 2 guards out with injuries? It HAS to be better than last year right?

Brian Bennett
  (4:39 PM)

Offensive line is the No. 1 concern for the WVU offense, I think. I've not been real impressed with the talent level on that line the past two years. Getting Braun and Barclay back will obviously help.

Brad (Charleston, WV)

With WVU's spring game coming up Friday, which of the new systems do you think have had the most success with installation? Graham, Holgorsen, or Pasqualoni?

Brian Bennett
  (4:40 PM)

You know, that's kind of hard to judge, and all that matters is how it's installed by the fall. But I'd say that, judging on the results and how pleased the coaches seemed, Pitt appeared to be a little ahead of the other two.

Terence (Long Island)

Can Tyler Eifert build on last year and become a better receiving TE than Rudy/Carlson/Fasano?

Brian Bennett
  (4:41 PM)

ND fans are quiet today. I like Eifert's potential, and Welch for that matter. The TE's could be really good. But as good as Rudolph? I don't know. He was awfully good when healthy.

Velden Linn (Columbus, OH)

BB, where you running that half-marathon? I run them too. You should come up to Columbus for our Half here. It's a great race and it's pretty flat.

Brian Bennett
  (4:42 PM)

Here in Louisville, unless the entire city is flooded. I'll make note of the Columbus one, thanks.

Lanman (New Brunswick, NJ )

With the addition of Jeremy Deering at RB on top a deep group including De'Antwan Williams and Jawan Jamison, can we expect Savon Huggins to come in the fall and do damage in the Big East. I know this is a tough question, but the hype on this guy is unreal on campus. Also, a similar situation at QB, with Gary Nova and Mike Bimonte coming in in the fall, what are the chances Chas Dodd loses his starting job?

Brian Bennett
  (4:44 PM)

I always think it's unfair to hype a kid straight out of high school, especially when he won't have the benefit of going through spring practice. I do think Huggins will get every chance to play and succeed, but it sounds like Deering is establishing himself as a tough guy to beat. I don't see Dodd losing his job unless he gets hurt.

Andrew (California)

Big East has some good games opening week. Which of these teams is most likely to give or receive the opening day upset: USF upseting ND, Marshall upseting WVU or Wake upseting the Cuse.

Brian Bennett
  (4:45 PM)

USF, especially if Floyd is suspended. I'm not too worried about the other two.

Jonathan (Louisville)

What will be the Louisville Cards record in year 2 of the STRONG era? who is the front runner to win the big east this year? or is it wide open?

Brian Bennett
  (4:46 PM)

I'd say WVU is the frontrunner, but it is wide open. Louisville is a tough team to peg since the Cardinals lost so many valuable seniors and were so banged up in spring practice. I think Strong gets them back to a bowl game, but I'm not sure the ceiling is that much higher this year. In two or three years, though, look out.

Jim (NY)

Syracuse is playing two Friday night games this year, what is your opinion on these games? Odds are they will be nationally televised but do they help or hurt the program?

Brian Bennett
  (4:48 PM)

I don't think they do anything to hurt. Lots of Big East teams have played on Fridays the past two years. It's better that Syracuse is getting national TV exposure instead of playing noon Saturday games only broadcast on the Internet. That exposure can only help. I'm interested to see what the atmosphere at the Dome will be like those nights.

Jon (Morgantown)

Happy Bday Brian! On the WVU kicking game, seems the coaching staff isnt that concerned, but to be this abysmal this spring? And the troubles we had last year with protection? Rumor around Motown is that Tyler B kicks really low....how is this corrected?

Brian Bennett
  (4:50 PM)

Kicking has been bad, and Bitancurt's kicks have been low. Weather has been an issue, too. It's a concern, but not that big of one because there is a lot of time to iron this out. If we're hearing the same reports the last week of August, then get worried.

Nate (AZ)

Asked Feldman last week, but curious who you project as a favorable comparison for evertt golson as a "best case scenario"?

Brian Bennett
  (4:50 PM)

Absolute best case? A lighter version of college-era Michael Vick.

Dave (Raligh)

What do you see out of the ACC this year? Is this their year to take a step forward or remain a second tier league?

Brian Bennett
  (4:51 PM)

Wait, the ACC has reached the second tier?

Steve (NYC)

What is the highest upside you see for Rutgers? 3rd place?

Brian Bennett
  (4:52 PM)

That sounds about right. I do think there is a lot of talent in place, but there are also many question marks. I like the Scarlet Knights to bounce back, but not high enough to win the league.

tom (NYC)

If you could sit front row at any sporting event (other than a Portman v. Bilson wrestling match) for your birthday, what would it be?

Brian Bennett
  (4:53 PM)

I'd probably say the Final Four. Of course, the Derby is close to my birthday and that's not bad either

Brandon (Pitt)

Who backs up Sunseri - Myers or Gonzolez? Seems important with the offense likely to cause the QB to be subject to injury.

Brian Bennett
  (4:54 PM)

Gonzalez played well this spring and got the most improved award. Myers was banged up for the spring game, and you have to wonder how good of a fit he is for the spread. I see one of those guys transferring.

john (indy)

Here' my last chance ND question do you think they have a better shot at BCS/ Nat'l championship this year or next

Brian Bennett
  (4:55 PM)

Next year. Schedule sets up nicely and guys like Crist and Te'o will be seniors.

Terence (Long Island)

I think a major injury to Gray or even Blanton could be the difference between 10 and 7-8 wins for the Irish this year as their DB depth is scary. Thoughts?

Brian Bennett
  (4:56 PM)

The depth is not good, and it depends on when that injury would occur. I think the Irish could find a suitable backup by the second half of the year. But no doubt, those guys are invaluable to this team.

Dave (Raleigh)

Great answser to the ACC question I actually couldn't agree more but a lot of people get upset if you don't give them a little respect for no reason

Brian Bennett
  (4:57 PM)

A little birthday humor. I kid the ACC. The Big East has to have somebody to laugh at, right?

Logan (Morgantown, WV)

Was it scary standing next to Bruce Irvin? I have seen him around campus while driving and I almost turned around. How imposing is he in person?

Brian Bennett
  (4:57 PM)

No, he's a gentle giant. Very friendly guy.

Ryan (Southington, CT)

If the Big East does come to it's senses and picks up UCF...at what point do you see an invitation being sent?

Brian Bennett
  (4:58 PM)

Assuming the Villanova thing falls apart, I see the Big East pumping the brakes and re-evaluating. There's no pressing need for a 10th team at this point, and clearly there's a problem building a consensus.

Ryan (Southington, CT)

What are the odds of the Big East pouching an SEC, or ACC team to get to magic number 10?

Brian Bennett
  (4:59 PM)

Zero percent. The money just doesn't match up. Period.

Ben (KC)

Brian, lets wrap this up, I got work to do.

Brian Bennett
  (4:59 PM)

And I've got birthday candles to blow out. Thanks for the well wishes and all the good questions today, folks. Have a great rest of your week.