BYU Game Review: Answering a Gut Check

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame guts out a 23-13 win over BYU.

That win felt quite good.

Play Call of the Game: Brindza's 51-yard Field Goal

There were some discussions being had about what to do on this 4th & 8 play. The ball is on the BYU 34-yard line and you're nursing a 7-point lead with 7 minutes left in the game. Do you punt? Go for it? Or do you rely on your big-legged kicker who has the wind at his back?

Kelly chose...wisely. This field goal made the game a lot more comfortable for the Irish.

Armchair Quarterback

I don't have much to complain about. I would have passed in a couple more spots when we ran and ran in a couple others spots where we threw but overall I liked the balance and timely play-calling.

I'm not sure we appreciate just how productive this team can be in a spread offense with one of the least mobile quarterbacks in college history. There are still the same problems finishing drives and putting teams away when the opportunity presents itself but the Irish averaged 6.27 yards per play against BYU and are now averaging that exact same YPP for the season.

Everyone should be quite excited for the future on offense.

Turning Point: Jarron Jones Blocked Field Goal

If Brindza's field goal on the previous possession made the game a little more comfortable this field goal block by Jarron Jones effectively sealed the game.

BYU mounted a nice 10-play 71-yard drive but it stalled out at the Irish 4-yard line ultimately coming up with zero points, burning 4 minutes off the clock, and only leaving 3 minutes left in the game.

Surprising Stat: 23 BYU First Downs

Normally when you hold a team to just 13 points you wouldn't expect so many first downs especially if there weren't a lot of turnovers (BYU's only turnover was the Hail Mary to end the first half) but the Cougars had a surprising number of first downs and also 415 total yards is nothing to sneeze at.

Quarterback Taysom Hill did rush for 6 first downs which really helped BYU's cause but I was quite surprised to see the Cougars finish with 12 first downs via the air. It didn't feel like to me that they were moving the chains quite that well with the passing game.

Unheralded Star: Dan Fox

Fox played one of his best games of his career in his final performance in Notre Dame Stadium. He nearly came up with a big interception in the second half and played really decisively in the middle leading the team with 9 tackles while adding 2 tackles for loss and one of the team's 2 sacks.

Missed Opportunity: Final Irish Drive of the 1st Half

Notre Dame had a really good opportunity to seemingly put BYU away late in the first half. Leading 17-7 the Irish picked up 4 first downs moving from their own 7-yard line all the way to the BYU 24-yard line. Unfortunately the gusting wind prevented a good shot at a field goal and all but forced Kelly & Co. to go for it on 4th and 7.

Yet another promising drive stalled with no points as Craig Bills knocked down a pass to Troy Niklas on a quick out pattern to give the ball back to BYU with 27 seconds left in the half.

Bad Flag of the Game: The Stadium Natural Grass

Personal foul on the stadium turf. The left side and the right side. All of it.

What an absolute embarrassment. If you still actively abhor field turf not only do you wish to see players risk more injury but you also don't want to see these supreme athletes playing at the highest level on the best conditions possible. You're also probably a bad person with messed up priorities.

Rees Reaction

This was just about your typical Rees 2013 performance. Not a great completion percentage but he nailed some down field throws. He missed on a couple really important throws (underthrowing a would-be touchdown pass to Daniels and the interception in the end zone to Niklas) but lead a strong performance on offense.

So many emotions watching Tommy's last game in the Stadium.

Red Zone TD Success: 33%

Notre Dame scored on their first trip inside the BYU red zone via a Tarean Folston 2-yard touchdown but the Irish would kick 2 field goals after entering the red zone on other drives.

Once again, this success also felt worse since Notre Dame entered BYU territory 3 more times and had drives end on the 24 ,30, and 22-yard lines with two turnover on downs and an interception.

Trench Analysis

Was this the best game of the season for the offensive line? They successfully opened enough holes when BYU knew they were running while also providing excellent pass protection. Perhaps best of all, the line completely neutralized Kyle Van Noy who finished with just 2 tackles as a complete non-factor. That they've been able to do this while dealing with injuries has been a testament to Harry Heistand's coaching. One of their best moments came after Folston's touchdown, when he did what every running back should do: came over and personally thanked each and every one of them for paving the way.

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Major props to the defensive line as well. Although they couldn't contain Hill on a few runs and allowed a couple long runs (with the help of poor safety tackling) by BYU the defensive line won a lot of battles. Sheldon Day, Jarron Jones, and Stephon Tuitt each totaled 7 tackles and oh what I would give if that was the starting lineup next year.

Freshmen Update

RB Tarean Folston, OLB Jaylon Smith, CB Devin Butler, S Max Redfield, WR Will Fuller, WR James Onwualu, CB Cole Luke, WR Corey Robinson, and DE Isaac Rochell are listed as participating and while OL Steve Elmer is not I believe he got in at some point.

Folston finished with 78 yards on 13 carries and added a 5-yard reception, Robinson caught a key third down pass for 17 yards, Jaylon had 3 tackles, and Redfield had 3 tackles.

Final Thoughts

Safety Eilar Hardy is quietly having a very nice redshirt sophomore season. He finished this game with a career high 8 tackles (second most on the defense) and now has 25 tackles on the season.

The Band of the Fighting Irish brought their A-game re-enacting the 1913 game against Army made famous by the Dorias to Rockne aerial assault.

Notre Dame's band creates formation that re-enacts ‘Dorais to Rockne’ pass from 1913. (GIF) http://yhoo.it/18glMqN


Congratulations to the seniors on winning the last home game during all four years on campus.



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