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BYU Q&A: A Chat With Vanquish The Foe

Our series of weekly Q&A's continues with the BYU blog Vanquish the Foe.

We heard from Eric yesterday about what he thinks about tomorrow's game with BYU, but now let's get their take on the game.

Joining us this week is Brett Hein of SBNation's BYU blog Vanquish the Foe.

1. Coming into this season, BYU was pegged as a Top 25 team and a dark horse BCS contender, but at 4-3, the BCS is out of the question. What went wrong? What do the Cougars need to do to right the ship?

What went wrong was the offensive line has struggled, and quarterback Riley Nelson got hurt. He hurt his back on a running play and hasn't been the same since. He has returned to his ways of being careless with the football, but has added an increased inability to make throws, given the injury.

2. BYU features one of the best defenses the Irish will see this season. Who are the playmakers on the defensive side of the ball?

Linebacker Kyle Van Noy. He has 26 tackles on the season, and 11.5 are for a loss (7.5 sacks). He also has three forced fumbles and five pass breakups. If he had six pass breakups, BYU might be 5-2. He read and timed a red zone play last week perfectly against Oregon State, jumping up to bat down a pass. The problem was that it hit off him and went up and over him, and into the arms of a tight end in the endzone.

Another player to watch is Ziggy Ansah. He's a DE/LB who has 30 tackles and 11 for loss despite not being a starter until week 5. He's big, tall, and strong.

The linebacking corp in general is solid. Van Noy has amazing instinct and speed. Uona Kaveinga is a hard-hitter (if you combined Van Noy with Kaveinga, you'd have Manti Te'o).

3. Starting quarterback Riley Nelson is coming off of a back injury and backup Taysom Hill is out for the season. What kind of play do you expect to get from the quarterback position? Who (besides Nelson) will be carrying the load on offense?

It sounds brutal, but with Riley Nelson at quarterback, I expect one solid scoring drive and then a bunch of silliness and turnovers. He is careless with the football and puts in on the turf a lot, aside from having thrown six interceptions in his last two starts. Even as a senior, he doesn't realize that throwing the ball out of bounds is an allowable football play. He's shown the ability to be better than this, but the injury has taken it away, it seems.

The other offensive playmakers are WR Cody Hoffman and RB Jamaal Williams. Hoffman has just gotten better and better each game with route-running and the technique of being a receiver to go along with his 6'3" frame. He had 10 catches for 102 yards last week, including a couple that saved bad throws. Williams is a 17-year-old running back who has shown a great ability to make people miss and put his pads down to get the tough yards -- which he's had to do, given the O-line struggles.

4. Two years in, how has independence been treating you? Do you like the move? Do you see BYU staying independent or do you see them joining a conference again in the future?

Independence is good. BYU has been on national TV more than anyone could have imagined and is playing compelling games (and continues to add them for the future). Notre Dame's return to power (so far) helps, too. I like the novelty and newness independence brings. Unless the Big 12 and BYU can come together to make something happen, I think Independence is here to stay. I don't think the money the Big East could offer will be overwhelmingly enough to get BYU to give up other things to join, especially when BYU already has series/games scheduled against those teams anyway (Boise State, Houston, UCF).

5. Any predictions for the game?

I'll say Notre Dame 21 BYU 7.


Thanks again to Brett for taking some time to answer our questions! Be sure to check out Vanquish the Foe to learn more the BYU Cougars!