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BYU looking to settle score after last year’s close defeat

Nov 19, 2013, 1:10 AM EDT

Joe Sampson, Theo Riddick

In a season filled with high-wire acts and death-defying escapes, Notre Dame’s 17-14 victory over BYU feels like a chapter you might skim through. With Everett Golson out after a bell-ringing concussion against Stanford, the Irish leaned heavily on the running game, with Tommy Rees throwing just three times in the second half as the Irish came back from a halftime deficit to lock up a victory thanks to Theo Riddick’s clutch running and the defense pitching a second half shutout.

Among the year’s unforgettable memories, you could understand if the hard-fought victory was one that’s already started slipping away from the Irish (or at least their fans).

But that certainly isn’t the case for BYU.

With an easy victory against Idaho State hardly in the rearview mirror, the Cougars were already moving on to Notre Dame on Saturday, heading back to South Bend with the goal to spring an upset that was almost in the books last year.

“I don’t remember many games, but I remember that one,” BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall told the Deseret News’ Jeff Call after his team’s easy 59-13 victory over Idaho State. “So I’m looking forward to going back.”

Mendenhall isn’t the only one on BYU’s sideline that’s looking forward to a return trip to South Bend. Quarterback Taysom Hill talked about his chance at facing the Irish, after sitting out last season with a knee injury.

“I’m really excited,” Hill told the Deseret News. “Much like Wisconsin, you get a team like Notre Dame that’s known around the country for being a quality football team. It gives us an opportunity again to go on the road to showcase what we can do on a national stage.”

Wide receiver Cody Hoffman, who had eight catches and a touchdown last season against the Irish put it more candidly.

“It’s stuck with us because we easily could have won,” Hoffman said. “Seeing them in the national championship, knowing that we could have and should have beat them, it will be nice to go back this year and hopefully get revenge.”



  1. notthatconfused - Nov 19, 2013 at 8:05 AM

    What temperatures are the BYU players used to? I ask because its predicted to be a high of 33* on Saturday here, with snow/sleet likely. Bundle up Irish!

    • mtndguy - Nov 19, 2013 at 11:42 AM

      It snowed in Salt Lake on Saturday, and will be in the 40’s the rest of this week. Utah has 14 ski resorts within 1-1.5 hours of Salt Lake. BYU kids can play in the cold.

  2. irishdodger - Nov 19, 2013 at 8:47 AM

    Weather shouldn’t be a factor for BYU.

  3. jimbasil - Nov 19, 2013 at 8:50 AM

    The run game. – I would think Bronco Mendenhall would be focused on that part of ND’s game with his defense.

    I see this game looking a lot like the Purdue game only with BYU being a much better team than PU.

  4. c4evr - Nov 19, 2013 at 8:58 AM

    Uh oh… it looks like someone’s Super Bowl this weekend.

    • jimbasil - Nov 19, 2013 at 9:23 AM

      Prediction: Taysom will be on the Heisman watch after Saturday.

      I just don’t understand how it is every time ND faces a mobile QB the ND defense plays as if it’s their first time playing their positions. It takes them the better part of three quarters to figure out they’re defending someone mobile. By then, ND is already behind in the scoring column.

      I just don’t think TR will be asked to throw in the middle of the field but I do expect him to audible out of running plays, a lot. If I’m Mendenhall, I’m thinking to force TR into doing just that with the Defense.

      • mtndguy - Nov 19, 2013 at 12:10 PM

        jimbasil, not sure about the Heisman watch, but with over 2,300 yards passing, and almost 1,000 yards rushing, Taysom is having a great year. ND will need to bring some pressure, and contain him if they’re gong to get a win.

        • jimbasil - Nov 19, 2013 at 12:50 PM

          Well, they did a decent job of it with ASU’s QB so there is hope ND can do something. The talent is there to do it, but I worry about the scheme/game plan set up by the coaches.

      • irish4006 - Nov 21, 2013 at 5:24 PM

        ASU dug a hole for themselves. They were confident in their offense and tried to play a conventional game. They did not follow the script UM, OU gave them – don’t hold on to the ball too long, just get it to a receiver and let him do the rest. And, of course, with a defense full of very talented tacklers (Farley, Jackson) and position masters (Carlo, Fox, Russell, Farley, Jackson), ND was more than happy to help out. Holding on to the ball for too long is not possible against ND even with Nix in double coverage and Tuitt at half speed.

  5. deadman3020 - Nov 19, 2013 at 9:02 AM

    As long as everybody does their job this should be a win. When I say everybody that includes coaches, don’t get out schemed coaching staff!

  6. mediocrebob - Nov 19, 2013 at 10:09 AM



  7. ndgoldandblue - Nov 19, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    It’s going to be a close game, not the type of beat-down we saw against Utah a few years ago. I wouldn’t make the Irish the favorite as of this point even with the home-field advantage. However, it’s perfectly within Notre Dame’s ability to win this game. It will be close, though. Maybe something like 27-24. If I had to guess, I’d say that BYU would have the 27, but no result would surprise me.

    It’s your last home game with your security blanket, Linus. Let’s make it a good one.

    • papadec - Nov 19, 2013 at 5:50 PM

      ndg&b – last time I looked, about 30 seconds ago, BYU was a 1 point favorite (@ espn odds). That should be some sort of motivation for the ND players – especially the Seniors!

  8. ndcanuck - Nov 19, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    BYU has every chance of beating the Irish in this one. They’re always a physical team and they have a habit of stepping up and beating good teams on the road. Seeing how beat up ND is this could be a long afternoon. Still one the Irish SHOULD win, especially on senior day when one would hope there is some type of atmosphere in the stadium and it doesn’t feel like playing football in a church (like most home games).

    Playing out the rest of the season at this point is straightforward. Lose here and lose to Stanford and we’re 7-5 going into a Toilet Bowl that we can hopefully pull a win out of. Win here and beat Stanford (unlikely, even after U$C screwed things up) and we’re at least looking respectable at 9-3 going to a low-status bowl (with a conference alignment excuse).

    All in all this has been a “playing for next year” season since the Spring bloodbath. Here’s hoping ND can close it out on a high note!

    • mtndguy - Nov 19, 2013 at 11:58 AM

      BYU got manhandled by Wisconsin. Notre Dame’s offensive and defensive lines should be able to do the same. BYU will regret traveling to ND Stadium on Senior Day. I predict that we’ll see Hendrix close this one out with a comfortable lead, along with the rest of the seniors who see play only in mop up time.

      • jimbasil - Nov 19, 2013 at 12:47 PM

        I’ll have whatever it is you’re drinking. In fact, a round or two for the rest on this board to help us get through this weekend.

  9. michaelcollins8 - Nov 19, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    A healthy DLine is a must. BYU will run the ball with a run/pass ratio of 58%/42%. This ratio is similar to Michigan State’s, Michigan’s, Oklahoma’s and USC’s. Against BCS teams, BYU averages 53 rushing attempts per game (4th most nationally) and 36 passing attempts.

    QB Taysom Hill and RB Jamaal Williams average 35 of the 53 rushing attempts, accounting for 200 yds per game.

    Against BCS competition (9 games), BYU’s total rushing yards exceed Stanford’s (10 games) and Alabama’s (also 10 games). Of our opponents this year, only Navy and Air Force have more total rushing yards, but their run/pass ratios are 80%/20%.

    If their rushing attack gets rolling and we do not contain Hill, we could be in for a long day.

    • bearcatirishfan - Nov 19, 2013 at 12:32 PM

      Good thing my fridge is well stocked with 12 oz calms my nerves beverages, sounds like this will be another non-relaxing thing I do to relax Saturday.

  10. fnc111 - Nov 19, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    Coulda woulda shoulda loser boy Hoffman.

    P.S. is this the first time Keith has given credit to someone other than Rees for winning a game?

  11. regionirish - Nov 19, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    This team/program is at a crossroads with these final two games. With the talent on the field this Saturday, I give ND a slight advantage against BYU. Basically a very banged up ND is slightly better than a reasonably healthy BYU team.

    To win against BYU the coaches must step up and do a great job with the game plan and in game adjustments. Also, if BK and others can’t get the Irish to play their most inspired football of the season coming off a bad loss and on senior day we have huge problems.

    I am hoping a few underclassman emerge as leaders on the field, because lord knows the captains have not shown the leadership that is expected at ND.

    • nudeman - Nov 19, 2013 at 2:52 PM

      Although I think it’s an overstatement to say the entire program is at a crossroads this week, I have to agree that a loss would be devastating. It basically would mean they’d likely be sending the seniors out on a 7-5 year, then to an even crappier bowl and finally into a miserably unenjoyable offseason.

      Won’t exactly do wonders for recruiting either.

      Plus, it will piss me off.

      • papadec - Nov 19, 2013 at 8:19 PM

        nude – don’t forget – it’s better to be pissed off, than pissed on.

    • ndgoldandblue - Nov 19, 2013 at 3:10 PM

      I concur with your sentiments in the last two paragraphs. Any success this team has over the next three games (bowl included) will come down to coaching and leadership.

      Some on this board have made the argument that Kelly can’t be blamed for the poor/inconsistent play on the field. I get it. The coaches can’t play the game for the players. BK didn’t throw those interceptions against Pitt; Tommy did. Right. I get it. But, it’s my contention that execution is a result of retention from repeated practice. I guess, it’s the theory of unconscious competence that BK talks about. You do something so much and so often that you don’t even have to think about it. You do it right every time, instinctively. It’s sort of like cooking your favorite meal. Eventually, you don’t even need to look at the recipe, or think about the ingredients, and yet it’s perfect every time.

      I wonder why he hasn’t been able to get some of the players to execute with unconscious competence. What are they doing in practice? Are the coaches drilling the fundamentals into their players’ minds? You would think that, if the players practiced these fundamentals over and over again, doing the correct thing on the field would become instinctive, natural. If it isn’t happening, the coaches need to do some self-evaluation.

      As for the captains, I have been disappointed in Bennett Jackson’s play. Some believe that Jackson will get drafted. I think Tommy’s got a better chance of getting drafted than Jackson. A few posters mentioned the idea of a captain leading by example, leading through his play on the field. BJ needs to start doing that. The only thing is, I think Jackson is unconsciously incompetent (as BK would say) this year. By that, I mean he doesn’t know that he doesn’t know. Tommy is quick to fall on the sword after bad or mediocre games, but I’ve never heard Jackson get introspective about his play and admit that he blew an assignment or missed a tackle. In order to remedy a problem, you first have to admit that there is one.

      • nudeman - Nov 19, 2013 at 4:11 PM

        Kelly & Staff get more than 50% of the blame for the poor, inconsistent and uninspired play this year for the reasons you cite and also for several of their decisions.

        There was nothing they could do about playing Rees, but they threw molotov cocktails on the fire by calling 30-40 passes several times (51 against UM), letting Rees audible and change plays whenever the fu** he wants, benching Folston, rolling him out to throw into the end zone against Pitt, and just flat out not having the team prepared to play several times this year.

        They were flat against Temple, Purdue, Michigan, MSU, Oklahoma, Navy and Pitt.
        That’s 7 out of 10 games.
        How in God’s name does THAT happen?
        And does anybody really believe they’ll suddenly discover energy against BYU and Stanford?
        I don’t.
        Record will be 8-4 best case with 7-5 a distinct possibility

        At the end of the reg season, they’ll finish anywhere from 7-5 to 9-3.
        But it just feels much worse than that.

    • hailhailxoltar - Nov 19, 2013 at 6:40 PM

      Just to get the excuses ready for the BYU team :-), they are pretty banged up too. There have been a LOT of players lost for the season this year. Although they still have their 1st string QB and RB, they are just about out of offensive linemen, defensive backs, and wide receivers. They just lost one of their best linebackers (Preston Hadley) in last week’s game. I think this will be two banged up teams playing each other.

  12. goirishgo - Nov 19, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    Just as there was little reason to expect ND to lay an egg at Pitt, there is no reason to believe the Irish won’t win this game.

    Go Irish!

  13. irishdodger - Nov 19, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    I think even the more optimistic fans are expecting another underperforming letdown as BYU wins comfortably. This is a 7-5 season & they’ll probably blow the bowl team to some MAC team.

    • papadec - Nov 19, 2013 at 6:00 PM

      dodger – I’d say I’m one of the more optimistic fans – I’m NOT expecting what you are predicting.

  14. mediocrebob - Nov 19, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    I’m waiting for someone on here to let us know their defensive gameplan/scheme. This scheme is one that had to work with guys like Mathias Farely on the field. Keep that in mind. A lot of ripping Diaco. Haven’t read/heard anyone’s solution.

    • ndgoldandblue - Nov 19, 2013 at 3:38 PM

      I think Diaco is a monumental upgrade over what the Irish had under Weis. The guy has been a solid coach since 2011, and he’s trying to make lemonade with some bruised lemons right now.

      That said, the starting defensive secondary is nothing but converted offensive players. The coaching staff is addressing that issue in recruiting right now (and last year), but some of the poor tackling, angles, coverage, etc. could be a result of misplaced players. Maybe some of these guys aren’t cut out for defense.

      As for coming up with our own scheme, I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but I’m no coach. I’m guessing most who post on this board aren’t coaches either. Just think of it like eating a bad meal in a restaurant. You may not be able to prepare the dish better than the chef, but so what? The meal you’re eating is still bad.

      • nudeman - Nov 19, 2013 at 4:22 PM

        As for the bad tackling, it’s undeniably been a persistent problem.

        The play against Michigan where 5 guys collided and Gallon walked in for a TD was a joke.
        But that stuff is the result of this team’s LBs and secondary (Jaylon Smith and maybe K. Russell excluded) being so slow. Carlo, Fox, Collinsworth, Farley … not a fast guy among them, and a couple of them are real Clydesdales. And I don’t know if Bennet Jackson is slow or has completely forgotten how to play CB, but he’s ALWAYS out of position in coverage.
        Tom Zbikowski disease.

        If you’re a step late you lunge at a ballcarrier instead of creaming him with your shoulder or wrapping him up with your arms. And if you’re a step late you are easily juked out of your jock, hence the apparent “bad angle”.

  15. irishaggie - Nov 19, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    I have seen BYU live twice this year. Once at Utah State and the other against Boise State in Provo. I have a lot of BYU friends and this is our annual Mormon vs. Catholic deal and they still hate me for Manti choosing the Irish. The Cougs are healthy and they are the real deal. They lost by 1 point to Virginia in a rainy sloppy game, and lost to a bad Utah team who beat Stanford. This team mentally feels like they are a 9-1 and feel very confident going into Notre Dame.

    I read the Deseret News column about the game this week and it had a story about Chris Badger returning to Notre Dame and you know he’s fired up. You think he doesn’t feel like he was better than Mathias Farley?? The kid looks like he will be a ferocious safety at BYU like many of the other Timpview products. I’ve known Taysom since he was in middle school and would watch his high school games when he was at Highland. They have no fear of Notre Dame this week. I hope we kick BYU’s ass but they are not scared to take on the Irish and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they win convincingly. Not to mention that if BYU wins I have to wear their stupid gear.

    • ndgoldandblue - Nov 19, 2013 at 10:24 PM

      hailhailxoltar said that BYU is pretty banged up. So which is true? Are they healthy, or do they have some key players out?

      • irishaggie - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:35 PM

        They have a couple injuries at offensive line and receiver position but all the big dogs are ready to go. Spencer Hadley is ready after spraining his knee against Wisconsin. Tight end Devin Mahina is also ready to go after exiting against Wisconsin with a groin injury. Ryker Mathews is also back from a neck injury suffered earlier in the year. They have been banged up but these guys are ready to go against the Irish. No significant top player for BYU will be out for this one.

        A guy to look out for is Uani ‘Unga. You’ll hear his name a lot on Saturday.

  16. yllibnosredna - Nov 19, 2013 at 5:05 PM


    I actually think ND will beat BYU by 7-10 points this weekend. And although I think Stanford will be a loss, I no longer think it will be the blow-out I once anticipated–perhaps due to the fact that Stanford (although a really good team) is not the unbeatable juggernaut we once believed. Games against Army, Utah, and USC come to mind.

    @ goldandblue and nude,

    Granted, the coaching this season has been bad. But one difference I’ve noticed between this current coaching staff–unlike the previous couple staffs–is that generally, once the on-field product appears to be as bad as it’s going to get, it begins to trend upwards. Case in point, following the Navy and Tulsa losses in 2010, the team ripped off four straight W’s to close out the season; following the utterly devastating opening 2 losses to South Florida and Michigan in 2011, the team rebounded to win 8 of their next 9. Then they pitched two stinkers against Stanford and FSU to close out 2011–leading to some pretty bleak projections for 2012, which ended up being a banner year. Perhaps I’m being a bit Pollyannish, but I just feel like the Pitt loss will mark the nadir for this season. Consequently, I have a hunch BK and co. find a way to pull it together this weekend, and some seniors (outside of TJ Jones and Louis Nix) find a way to step up and get it done. And so long as the talent finally begins to play to its potential and there is adequate healing along the front seven, there is no reason to believe the Stanford game will not be at least competitive.

    • ndnphx - Nov 19, 2013 at 5:29 PM

      The problem being that, ten games into a twelve-game season, we know who we are. ‘Don’t know how much improvement we’re likely to see in the last two weeks, or who it is that will improve so much to turn us into something we haven’t been for ten weeks. I hope Senior Day matters, but the signature thing the senior class has lacked is intensity, at least for an entire 60 minutes.

      As Nude adroitly pointed out, whatever record we end up with (and 7-5 certainly would fit the eye test), it will sure seem a lot worse.

      • goirishgo - Nov 19, 2013 at 7:44 PM

        Exactly – we have a very clear picture of who we are. And why would that make anyone think we’re not as good as BYU?

        Don’t turn it over and win the game.

    • nudeman - Nov 19, 2013 at 8:32 PM

      The problem I have with your “nadir conclusion” it that there have been multiple times this year we’ve all thought we bottomed out, but the lethargy has just continued.

      Temple was a totally somnabulent showing, but everyone said we were holding stuff back for UM
      But UM turned out to be a crapfest too.
      Turnovers, bad game plan, down 10-0 before they got off the bus
      Purdue was a Gerry Faust-esque 1st half. MSU was a 4 quarter offensive clown show
      Oklahoma was maybe the most miserably Xanax-like game all year. Just awful.

      And it’s just continued. There have been very few high points this year, unless you get excited about blowing out Air Force and narrowly beating Navy high points.

      Fool me once, shame on you.
      Fool me 8 times shame on me.

      In other words I’m not expecting much these next two games.

      • c4evr - Nov 19, 2013 at 11:00 PM

        I just have to give a tip of the hat to anyone who uses somnabulent in a football related post… I say ‘well done’, even though I don’t know what the hell it means.

      • bb90grad - Nov 22, 2013 at 2:35 PM

        “nadir” should get points too.

        The local Bama and Auburn fans around me are probably wondering what Unsafe At Any Speed has to do with football.

        Looking back, that’s probably a good tagline for this year regarding our D.

  17. yllibnosredna - Nov 19, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    Fair point. Understand the reasoning behind it. I just have a hunch we may see a different team the last couple weeks if for no other reason than previous BK squads have shown some resilience the past couple years. Nonetheless, based on what we’ve seen this season, I would not be surprised to see ND lay an egg on Senior Day either. I guess I’m just hopefully expecting to be pleasantly surprised for the first time this season (outside of the Az St. game).

  18. irishdodger - Nov 19, 2013 at 8:22 PM


    I appreciate you optimism but what do you see that convinces you of the following:

    1) That a defensive that couldn’t execute assignment football against an inferior Navy team can do so against an ever more challenging BYU offense?

    2) That when the ND defense loads the box forcing Hill to pass that Bennett Jackson will finally learn how to properly defend the pass in man coverage…or at least just look for the ball

    3) That BK will, for once; commit to the run game vs giving up on it after a few stops for no gains & then putting Rees in a position where he has to throw every down. Great kid but it’s not fair to put the game on his shoulders w/ his lack of abilities. He should manage the game…not dictate it w/ his arm.

    I want to be positive, but nothing this season has shown me that BK won’t continue to call the same old game. Win the coin toss, elect to receive, go 3 & out. Throw 90% of the time in the 2nd half. I figured ND would eke out a win vs Pitt & then lost to both BYU & Stanford. Now I think BYU blows ND out in embarrassing fashion. I hope I’m wrong, but as I laid out above, I’ve seen nothing convincing me to believe otherwise.

  19. viktory2013 - Nov 19, 2013 at 11:42 PM

    Let’s face it boys and girls, the team hasn’t shown up this year. Kelly hasn’t done a particularly stellar job of coaching, but I place the onus on a lethargic, unmotivated group of upperclassmen, specifically Rees, Calabrese, Fox, Jackson, Atkinson, and Farley. When you have freshmen like Smith and Folston running circles around the seniors, it’s fairly obvious there’s a problem.

    What I wouldn’t give to have someone like Teo screaming at teammates on the sideline, or Golson improvising a broken down play into a first down. THAT’S why this year’s team has floundered.

    Not optimistic about these last two games, especially after the snoozefest efforts against Navy and Pitt.

    BUT, on the positive side, I truly believe next year’s team might just be a nasty bunch of dudes, especially once some of these lame pantomimers are weeded out.

    Sorry guys, hate negativity, but it is what it is.

    • regionirish - Nov 20, 2013 at 1:33 PM


      Could not agree more….well said.

  20. danirish - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    I was looking over at and had to think:

    When was the last time ND had THREE plays of 80 yards? 1 run and 2 passes

    When was the last time no ND running back appeared on the top 100 rushing list

    ND is 68th in punt returns and that’s good(!/?)

    Rees is above the top 30 in almost every category (not an endorsement, an observation)

    -0.30 turnover margin – yuck!

    ONLY 3 fumbles lost all year!

    62.5% in FG’s!

    Weird year



  21. yllibnosredna - Nov 20, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    Fool me 9 times, What am I–an American Indian?

  22. yllibnosredna - Nov 20, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    @ nude,

    Fool me 9 times, What am I–an American Indian?

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