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November 22, 2013
What will it take for BYU to beat Notre Dame in South Bend?
The Cougars will be back in action on Saturday afternoon as they travel to South Bend to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. This will be the eighth time that the two teams had squared off on the gridiron with Notre Dame holding a 5-2 advantage. Their last meeting was just a season ago when the Fighting Irish escaped with a 17-14 victory at home.
Notre Dame enters the contest with a 7-3 record following a 28-21 loss to the Pitt Panthers two weeks ago. Their other two losses on the season came at the hands of the Oklahoma Sooners and the Michigan Wolverines.
The Fighting Irish have registered big time wins over Michigan State, Arizona State and USC along with victories over Temple, Purdue, Air Force and Navy as well.
Notre Dame is coached by Brian Kelly who is in his fourth year at the Helm. Before coming to Notre Dame, Kelly was the head man at Cincinnati for three seasons. This is what Kelly had to say about facing the Cougars in his BYU preview press conference.
"I think it starts with Hill and what they have been doing offensively. They have been extremely dynamic on offense, led by Hill, a duel threat, who can run the football, but certainly, has thrown it so well. Cody Hoffman has been around it seems for a while but has been a big play wide receiver for them.
You know, again, I think it starts with Hill, and you know, the new offensive system that they have in place is really different from what we saw last year.
Defensively, Coach Mendenhall has always been his teams have always been very good defensively, and this defensive unit is no different. I think you start with Van Noy, who is somebody that you have to game plan. He's very versatile. He can drop into coverage. He can come off the edge, tackles for a loss. Very versatile player; we'll have to know where he is at all times.
Sorensen makes a ton of tackles. He's their safety. They put him in a position where, you know, he in a large degree becomes that extra hat or that free hat; very good at the point of attack, very good tackler.
You know, they have defensively always had multiple looks. They start out of a three down look, but they can be a number of different coverage variables, probably as unique of coverage schemes that you will see.
But at the end of the day, you know, they forced 18 turnovers in their win, so they are a team that gets turnovers and they are a team that certainly done a great job. But getting teams three and out; by comparison, you can see how many plays they run offensively. They are an up tempo offense. They are going to want to go fast, and I think they have run over 800 plays already this year.
So offensively, running fast. Defensively, getting you off the field. It's going to be a great challenge, and certainly one that we're looking forward to, especially being an opportunity for us to play at home the last time this year.
So I know our guys are focused. They are going to have to have a single minded focus on BYU and really doing their job. Defensively, assignment football is going to be key. They put you in a lot of run/pass conflicts where we are going to have to do a great job. And obviously containing Hill, and then from our standpoint, offensively, finding a way to get some big plays.
They have been a team that minimizes the opportunity for big plays, and that's going to be very important for us offensively."
The entirety of the transcript from the press conference can be found at http://www.und.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/111913aac.html
The Notre Dame offense averages over 400 yards and 28 points a game. They are led by senior quarterback Tommy Rees. Rees has started all ten games on the season and is completing 54.4 percent of his passes for 2504 yards and 24 touchdowns.
His favorite targets are wide receivers TJ Jones and DaVaris Daniels as well as tight end Troy Niklas. Jones leads the team with 54 receptions for 891 yards and eight touchdowns. Daniels is second on the team in all three categories with 35 receptions for 534 yards and five scores. Niklas has caught 25 balls for 390 yards and also have five touchdown receptions.
The Fighting Irish are also solid running the ball behind the legs of George Atkinson III and Cam McDaniel. Atkinson leads the team in rushing with 512 yards and three touchdowns on just 83 carries. McDaniel also has three rushing touchdowns to go along with 491 yards on the ground.
The Notre Dame 3-4 defense gives up an average of 23.5 points and 369 yards a game and have only forced ten turnovers so far this season. Their strong suit is getting up field and causing havoc in the offensive back field having already registered 53 tackles for loss.
Some players to watch on the defense will be Stephon Tuitt, Bennett Jackson and the entire starting line backing group. Tuitt is a junior defensive lineman who is always making plays. He leads the team with five sacks and is also tied for the team lead with 6.5 TFL's. Jackson is a senior corner who is third on the team with 54 tackles.
All four of the starting line backers have played well. Carlo Calabrese leads the team with 69 tackles including 5.5 for loss. Dan Fox is second on the team with 66 tackles. Jaylon Smith is fourth on the team with 53 tackles and tied for the team lead with 6.5 TFL's. Last but certainly not least in Prince Shembo. Shembo always seems to be in the backfield. He leads the team with 15 quarterback hurries and is second on the team with four sacks.