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Notre Dame Notebook: Irish continue to get better in 28-20 win over BYU

It was a good night despite the late tension

Brigham Young v Notre Dame Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish improved their record to 3-2 on the season with a 28-20 win over the BYU Cougars in Las Vegas on Saturday night. It wasn’t a perfect performance by the Irish even though for most of the game it looked like a dominant one. This is an imperfect team, but each week they add something more to the special sauce to get better and better.

Jayden Thomas

Notre Dame has been looking for more weapons in the passing game for a long time now — specifically from its wide receiver room. Lorenzo Styles has really been the only one to make a real impact this season — until this game. Sophomore Jayden Thomas burst onto the scene with a 3 reception game that garnered 73 yards and a touchdown.

Notre Dame absolutely needed this to happen — it’s really exciting.

Michael Mayer

Michael Mayer won’t win the Heisman, but that won’t stop my campaign. Mayer was incredible against BYU with 11 receptions for 118 yards and 2 touchdowns while breaking Notre Dame records in the process — by the end of the year he’ll likely hold a whole bunch more.

What’s the rush?

One of the stranger things to come about on Saturday was BYU’s ability to get yards on the ground. The Cougars rushed 29 times for 160 yards — which isn’t earth-shattering — but it did help keep BYU in the game. There was a 20 yard run on 3rd and 17 backed up against the endzone that I’ll never forget (or forgive) and the big 28 yarder for a touchdown. The Cougars mostly pounded it up the middle which makes sense with the departure of Jacob Lacey this week — as well as Howard Cross sitting out the game with an injury. The “gut” was a little soft.

J.D. Bertrand

Speaking of the gut, J.D. Bertrand returned in the second half, and finished the game tied for 2nd on the team in tackles for the day. Notre Dame’s front seven, which had been so good as of late, was really twisted up to start the game and still managed to hound and defend pretty well. Bertrand made it out of the game without a targeting penalty — so things are back on track on that front.

The accuracy of Drew Pyne

Drew Pyne was 22-28 on the night which is a completion percentage that’s just a shade under 80%. Of those 6 incompletions, 3 of them had “other things” happening (Tyree drop, Mayer drop, and the tipped ball for INT). There was at east one more ball that was just thrown away (a screen gone wrong to Eli Raridon). For all of the doubt that I and many others had about Drew Pyne, this offense looks like an offense now, and Pyne’s accuracy is perhaps the biggest catalyst.

Jon Sot for Heisman

Sot only punted the ball twice on Saturday but they averaged over 56 yards per punt. He’s been awesome this year, and a pleasant surprise. There was one minor mistake against BYU, and it was when he outkicked the coverage which helped launch a 42 yard return against him and set up BYU for the first TD of the day. Feels like Mayer may get more Heisman votes.

Running back madness

Notre Dame continues to trot out its “3-Headed Monster” at running back with Audric Estime, Logan Diggs, and Chris Tyree. All three won’t be greatly successful together in each game, but I do think that the combination provides a lot of problems for opposing defenses — especially with the pass-catching ability of all three players. Estime got over 100 all-purpose yards again, and was just 3 yards short of his second 100 yard game. While I still have questions and concerns about the who and how on some plays — I can’t question the overall effectiveness of the group. It’s so fun.