Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct 08, 2022

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 38 of 55 OCT. 8, 2022 39 GAME PREVIEW: BYU NOTRE DAME RUNNING GAME VS. BYU RUN DEFENSE First-year Notre Dame head coach Marcus Free- man preached a consistent message during the preseason of wanting to build a "run-the-ball, stop-the-run" identity for his team. Neither plan has gained much traction early this season, but improvement looks to be coming. Losses to Ohio State and Marshall dropped the Irish rushing offense to 110th nationally at only 103.0 yards per game. The rushing numbers improved some in Week 3 against Cal. That said, putting up 147 yards on 41 carries with an average of 3.6 yards per carry against the Bears was far from a legendary rushing performance. But to finally have the thunder-and-lightning tailback tandem of speedy junior Chris Tyree and bruising sophomore Audric Estime combine evenly for 35 carries and 140 yards was encouraging, and what Irish fans have been waiting to see. In the same way it started to about this time last year, the Irish offensive line is finding its footing. For BYU, it allowed 161.7 rushing yards through its first three outings, which slotted the Cougars 88th nationally in rushing defense, heading into its game last weekend against Wyoming. Second on BYU with 23 total stops, including 1.5 tackles for loss, always-around-the-ball sophomore linebacker Ben Bywater was a catalyst to BYU's run- stoppage unit through Sept. 17. Sophomore defensive back Ammon Hannemann is a sure tackler who has added 16 stops for the Cougars. Advantage: Even NOTRE DAME PASSING GAME VS. BYU PASS DEFENSE Through three games, Notre Dame still hadn't provided much to celebrate in this category. Junior quarterback Drew Pyne had all 3 of the Irish pass- ing touchdowns for an aerial offense that ranked only 107th in the country with a dismal 182.7 yards per game. Pyne (1) and sophomore opening-day starter Tyler Buchner (2) had combined for 3 interceptions, and the Irish wide receivers had yet to record a TD catch. Notre Dame ranked only 98th in team passing effi- ciency heading into the North Carolina game. As expected, Irish junior tight end Michael Mayer paced the team after three games with 15 grabs, which went for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns. Soph- omore wideout Lorenzo Styles had 11 catches for a team-best 152 yards, but had yet to score. Six other Irish pass catchers had combined for 22 receptions and 1 TD. On the flip side, BYU wasn't exactly stellar de- fending the pass through its first three games. The Cougars ranked 72nd in passing efficiency defense. It had 5 team sacks — 1 each by five different play- ers — and 2 interceptions, one of which standout junior linebacker Max Tooley returned 33 yards for a touchdown against South Florida in the season opener. Staff Predictions Todd D. Burlage: Notre Dame 21, BYU 20 Notre Dame will take a perfect 10-0 record in Shamrock Series games to Las Vegas for a date against BYU Oct. 8. Seventh-year BYU head coach Kalani Sitake quietly went 21-4 in 2020 and 2021, and fin- ished in the top 20 of the final Associated Press poll both seasons. With 16 starters returning in 2022, Sitake's Cougars started 2-0 and rose to No. 12 in the AP poll before dropping back to No. 19 following a 41-20 loss at No. 15 Oregon Sept. 17. Steve Downey: BYU 20, Notre Dame 13 This felt like a coin-flip game prior to the start of the season, but after watching their offense slog through the first three weeks it is hard to feel good about the Fighting Irish's chances against a good BYU team. For me, it comes down to the two quarterbacks. The Irish have yet to be able to push the ball down the field in their passing game, with Drew Pyne averaging just 8.5 yards per completion fol- lowing his first start vs. Cal. The Cougars' Jaren Hall, meanwhile, can beat you with his arm or his legs. In the end, I think he makes more plays than Pyne en route to a BYU victory. Patrick Engel: BYU 24, Notre Dame 20 Which version of BYU's defense will show up, the one that held then-No. 9 Baylor to less than 4 yards per play or allowed 41 points to Oregon? The former would put the clamps on a suspect Irish offense. The latter gives them a chance, but I'm inclined to believe it was an anomaly. And that's only part of the equation. BYU's offense has a dynamic quarterback in Jaren Hall, who gives defenses fits with his improvisational skills and off-platform throws. Tyler Horka: Notre Dame 24, BYU 20 Outside of an outburst for 314 rushing yards in the season opener against South Florida, BYU has struggled to run the ball after All-American Tyler Allgeier departed for the NFL. Notre Dame has a front seven that should shed some early concerns and be stout in run stopping by Oct. 8. The Irish offense should be steadily improving enough with Drew Pyne at QB to win a low-scoring game against the Cougars, too. Pyne makes enough plays, the Irish D makes enough stops and head coach Marcus Free- man gets a big early-tenure victory. Mike Singer: Notre Dame 23, BYU 21 It's a tough game to predict, but Notre Dame should have the best talent on the field when the two teams meet in Las Vegas. It should be a relatively low-scoring affair. Junior linebacker Max Tooley recorded a team-high 26 tackles and returned an interception for a touch- down during the Cougars' 2-1 start. PHOTO BY JAREN WILKEY/COURTESY BYU

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Oct 08, 2022