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Notre Dame Football: Cheer (cheer) and white clothing in Las Vegas

Buy the ticket, take the ride.

There are those who enjoy it when their team is on a bye week, I do not understand those people. I crave Notre Dame football like a vegan craves letting you know they are a vegan. We are now in the stretch run, eight straight Saturdays with Notre Dame on the docket. How fitting that it kicks off with a bang in Vegas, as the Irish take on the 16th ranked Cougars of Brigham Young. The lead-up to this game seems straightforward for the first time since the Marshall game. As always, there are storylines aplenty, intrigue abounds and a lot to dissect in this matchup. Thankfully all of it seems to be contained to what’s going to happen on the field. So let us pray that everyone goes out there and does their effin’ job.

The David Copperfield of Offenses

For the second straight game, Notre Dame faces an opponent that rides or dies with their quarterback and the passing game. Quarterback Jaren Hall has certainly made a name for himself this season by orchestrating a seemingly high-powered BYU passing game. He’s done so without the talents of his two best receivers for a majority of the season, as Gunner Romney hadn’t played until last week and Puca Nacua has suffered two separate injuries. Gunner is likely going to play, and I cannot be more effusive in how much I love this kid’s game. Deceptively fast? 4.4 forty. Sneaky quick? Check. Hardworking gym rat? That’s a given. Comparisons to Jeff Samardzija and Ed McCaffrey? Why wouldn’t I?

Bill Belichick is salivating over the possibilities.

Puca Nucua is said to be the best receiver on the roster, but the best ability is availability. Now I could keep going through a Joshua Vowles spring ball reading of the names with this team and it won’t do anyone any good and frankly isn’t fun. So, here’s what I think you need to know having watched all of BYU’s games this year. Their offensive line is one-dimensional, they can’t run block and they get no push whatsoever. Their 75th-ranked rushing offense is in part that “good” because they dropped 314 against USF in the opener, in the two games they’ve played against the P5 opponents they’ve only mustered 144 yards on 57 rushes. We’re likely going to see a lot of Christopher Brooks, which bodes well for the Irish because the guy is a JAG. They are going to NEED to rely on Jaren Hall to move the football vertically but even then, there’s some smoke and mirrors when it comes to their passing game. 802 of Hall’s 1438 yards have come on first down, when put in obvious passing situations the Cougar’s start to struggle. They’ve had 22 dropbacks on 3rd and long/fourth downs and netted just 5 first downs. If I, a layman, can notice these tendencies and deficiencies, you better believe Al Golden and the defensive staff has as well.

An Offensive Defense

When you watch their two most recent games against Wyoming and Utah State it doesn’t take long before you notice that Notre Dame ought to have a field day against this defense. They are about as bad a tackling team as the Irish will see all year. They’ve done a good job of limiting big plays, having only given up 13 plays of 30+ yards, good for 23rd in the nation. That’s not really the Irish game plan though and the running backs they’ve seen to this point don’t really have the power or the speed that the Irish will feature with Tyree and Estime respectively. That poor tackling seems to lead to frustration as well, BYU commits a ton of penalties and plenty of them are the after-the-whistle variety. Against Utah, linebacker Max Tooley ripped off the shoe of the Aggie quarterback and chucked it.

Kalani Sitake had to have gone full Austin Powers on that one.

The last two games they had 21 penalties for 191 yards, Notre Dame has 22 for 203yds on the season. The other glaring thing you notice is their lack of a pass rush. Half of their sacks on the season came against Baylor and they have just 10 QB hurries on the season. If either of their last two opponents had a pulse, this BYU team would have three losses to this point. If you’ve ever been to a casino, you’ve seen that old person at the slot machine, right? The one with an oxygen tank hooked up to their nose pumping life back into their body while their slots club card sucks the life out with each feeble pull of the lever. That’s the BYU defense.

What to Expect from Notre Dame

Coming off the breakout performance from the offense against North Carolina I fully expect to see Notre Dame continue to assert itself. Jarrett Patterson continues to get healthier, and the offensive line keeps progressing, it’s a safe bet that Drew Pyne should see a fairly clean pocket all night. That clean pocket should afford him the ability to keep making good choices and hit the throws he needs to hit. As a starter, he is completing over 70% of his passes and I don’t believe that number should dip below that unless they feel comfortable taking more shots downfield, though, given the expected success of the running game, they won’t need to. Mayer is going to get his pound of flesh, simply because they don’t have anyone who can match up against him.

As for the aforementioned running game, in true Vegas fashion, it’s going to be an all-you-can-eat buffet for the backs on Saturday. Audric Estime is a bear to bring down as it is but couple that with a team that has issues tackling? Notre Dame has only had two runs of over 20 yards so far this season, but Chris Tyree is a missed tackle away from going for 50. The defense might not put up the sack numbers they had the last two games but playing a team as woeful running the football team as BYU should still afford them a good day at the office. There were things to clean up in the bye week after the UNC game with protection and it was likely a focal point in those practices. Benjamin Morrison makes his first start; he and Cam Hart are going to be tasked with defending some very talented receivers. How they respond will be something I am going to keep a close eye on.


This is a game Notre Dame should win and should win handily. Perhaps there might have been a slight letdown after the UNC game, but with this coming off the bye, they should be laser-focused. I think Notre Dame is starting to round into the team with the thought they were going to be heading into the season. In terms of a path to victory it’s clear, play your game and run the football. Do that and we shouldn’t be sweating this one out. Leave that for when you split sevens at the blackjack table after the game. Irish win 35-17