College Football

Notre Dame-BYU Preview

The Notre Dame defense is ready for another hard fought battle on Saturday, when they face the Brigham Young Cougars. Photo courtesy of Troy Breidenbach Photography.

The Holy War is here.

After a classic Notre Dame goal line stand and huge win over No. 22 Stanford last weekend, the Irish face their next opponent in the house that Rockne built in South Bend this Saturday, Oct. 20, the Cougars of Brigham Young University. The Irish may be looking ahead to a big game against the Oklahoma Sooners, but the Brigham Young (4-3) Cougars have a team that simply cannot be overlooked.

“I think it’s a trap game each week if you think that you can take a breather,” said Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly.

Although quarterback Everett Golson was cleared to return to practice Wednesday after suffering a concussion in the game against Stanford last Saturday, Kelly told the media that his starter will be a game time decision after he evaluates Golson at practice Friday and again prior to Saturday’s contest. Kelly said earlier in the week that he would have three quarterbacks ready for this Saturday’s contest against BYU (Everett Golson, Tommy Rees, and Andrew Hendrix) with Hendrix scheduled to take 40% of the snaps in practice this week.

Golson’s practice time has alread been limited during the previous two weeks as a result of turf toe and a shoulder injury.

In Saturday’s game against Stanford, Golson went 12 for 24 for 141 yards. He had one touchdown and no interceptions, but was sacked three times. Neither offense, however, was having much success at scoring though. The offensive line did seem to get somewhat of a spark when Tommy Rees came into the game. Tommy, in the final scoring drive, went 4 for 4 for 43 yards, but the o-line did still to let through one sack. The offensive line is going to have to toughen up against BYU’s 5th ranked defense if Notre Dame hopes to get more points on the board this weekend.

Robby Toma and TJ Jones celebrate in the end zone against Stanford, Oct. 13, 2012. Photo courtesy of Troy Breidenbach Photography

Notre Dame’s offense against Stanford was a pretty mixed bag of rushing and passing. On the rushing front, Cierre Wood had 12 carries for 66 yards, Theo Riddick had 12 carries for 46 yards, and Golson ran the option 15 times for 67 yards. On the passing front, Tyler Eifert had 4 catches for 57 yards, TJ Jones had 4 grabs for 52 yards, and Theo Riddick had 3 catches for 38 yards. The problem came when trying to get the ball into the endzone. BYU’s defense will be no less of a challenge to score on than Stanford was on Saturday.

“Our kids turn on the film and look at BYU and go, ‘that’s a good football team,’” Kelly said. “We are not turning on the film and looking at a team where the kids go, ‘oh, these guys can’t play’. They are physical, play hard and play for four quarters.”

The BYU Cougars head to South Bend after a 42-24 home loss to then-No. 10 Oregon State last Saturday. BYU’s defense (ranked No. 5 in the nation) had a very off day, allowing 21 fourth-quarter points and 450 yards overall, leading to the Cougars’ second loss to a ranked opponent this season.

If the Cougars are to deliver an upset over the Irish this weekend, quarterback Riley Nelson will have to do a much better job at protecting the ball. This sounds familiar to Irish fans as well. Nelson had missed the two games prior to the Oregon State match-up with what he said were “back fractures.”  His overall performance against Oregon State  was good, completing 28 of 51 passes for 305 yards and a touchdown, but he was intercepted three times and sacked four times. “Hopefully we can put a whole game together, offense, defense, special teams, take care of the football, control field positions and do all those things,” Nelson said. “We’ve done those in spurts, but it hasn’t been good enough.”

Despite Nelson’s unpredictable play, Kelly and his players will not look past them, or any one else for that matter. They must take a one-game-at-a-time approach to the season. “We can’t be focusing on being 12-0,” linebacker Manti Te’o said. “We can only focus on 7-0 and 8-0 and so on and so forth.”

“The coaches do a good job of keeping us humble and reminding us that it’s not easy to win in college football and to take every game seriously,” said tight end Tyler Eifert.

Head coach Brian Kelly has not given his players much of a break this week, even though most of the rest of the student body have gone home for fall break. “If that locker room is a mess, there’s going to be a long practice today – and they know that. If the game room looks like a pigsty, it’s going to be a long practice today,” he said. “My point is this: I think they are all trap games, every single one of them, if you take a breather. But if you just stay on the course, continue to do what you’re doing, we’ll be fine.”

Game time in South Bend on Saturday is at 3:30pm ET. Here come the Irish!

Notre Dame – BYU game primer (courtesy of Notre Dame Fighting Irish Digital Media)

“Let that passion out, every chance you get. Let them know … we are ND.” Head Coach Brian Kelly



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