Thursday, October 18, 2012

Notre Dame-BYU Preview

Notre Dame QB's: Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson has been cleared to practice after passing concussion tests. He had suffered a concussion late in the 4th quarter of the win over Stanford. Golson has completed 58.5 percent of his passes this season and has passed for 968 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. In addition to passing numbers, Golson has rushed for 81 yards and 2 touchdowns as well this season. Golson is expected to continue to be the starting quarterback for the Irish. Backup quarterback Tommy Rees has come into relief multiple times this season, and on the season has completed 68 percent of his passes for 218 yards and 1 touchdown. Depending on how things progress with Golson and his return from the concussion, it is possible that Tommy Rees will again see playing time against BYU.

Notre Dame QB's vs. BYU Pass Defense: BYU currently has the 24th ranked pass defense in the nation. They have allowed opposing teams to complete 58.9 percent of their passes for 193 passing yards a game, while also allowing 5 touchdowns, and intercepting 4 passes as well. They haven't faced many opponents with strong offenses, but the best team they played, Oregon St., passed for 332 yards and 3 touchdowns with a backup starting at quarterback. It all depends on Golson and how is progress goes with the concussion, but BYU was beaten quite will by a team with a backup quarterback starting as well.

Edge: Even

BYU QB's: BYU lost quarterback Taysom Hill for the season to an injury. Hill had completed 59.2 percent of his passes for 425 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Hill was more dangerous on the ground as he was previously the teams leading rusher with 336 yards on 55 carries for an average of 6.1 yards a carry. He also had 4 rushing touchdowns and his longest rush being for 68 yards. Riley Nelson will be the quarterback for the Cougars and on the season has 1,059 passing yards on a 57.5 percent completion rate. Also, he has 6 passing touchdowns, 8 interceptions, and has 113 rushing yards as well. He also has missed playing time this season due to injury as well.

BYU QB's vs. Notre Dame Pass Defense: The Notre Dame pass defense has been quite impressive this season and currently is 14th overall in the nation. They have allowed opponents to complete just 52.9 percent of their passes, while only allowing 173.5 passing yards and 3 touchdowns all season. The defense has also managed to intercept 10 passes, which helps give an advantage with BYU quarterback Riley Nelson throwing for more interceptions than touchdowns this season. Look for the Notre Dame secondary to have a strong game and continue to exceed expectations as they have all season.

Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame RB's: The Irish primarily use three running backs who are close together in total rushing yards. Theo Riddick has the most yards with 308 rushing yards on 80 carries and has 3 touchdowns. George Atkinson III has 290 rushing yards on 32 carries and has 3 touchdowns, while Cierre Wood has 279 rushing yards on 47 carries and has 2 touchdowns. Cierre Wood's numbers look quite impressive considering he has only played in the last 4 games, and George Atkinson III has a 9.1 yard average in yards per carry. Cam McDaniel has also seen playing time as well with 114 rushing yards on 20 carries with 1 touchdown as well.

Notre Dame RB's vs. BYU Rush Defense: BYU has been quite strong on the run defense with the unit being 3rd in the nation by allowing 67.8 rushing yards a game and 4 rushing touchdowns, and opponents are averaging just 2.2 yards a carry as well. However, three opponents were able to run for over 100 yards with Division 1-AA Weber St. getting 115 rushing yards with 2 touchdowns, Boise St. getting 116 yards, and Oregon St. having 118 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns as well. This is one of the best running games that the Cougars face all season long and should provide an interesting matchup between both teams.

Edge: Even

BYU RB's: Jamaal Williams is the primary ballcarrier for BYU and leads with 345 rushing yards on 65 carries with 5 touchdowns on the ground. Michael Alisa is the other back with 222 rushing yards on 58 carries and has 1 touchdown. Quarterback Taysom Hill was a big component of the running game and his loss will continue to have an impact. The other back that has seen a solid amount of playing time is David Foote with 97 rushing yards on 24 carries.

BYU RB's vs. Notre Dame Rush Defense: The Irish have also been strong against the run, as they are 24th in the nation and are allowing 113.5 rushing yards a game and 0 rushing touchdowns as well, and opponents are averaging 3.5 yards a carry as well. Stopping Jamaal Williams is key as he is the main back and is averaging 5.3 yards a carry on top of that. Notre Dame has been great in stopping players on the ground like Le'Veon Bell, Denard Robinson, Duke Johnson, and Stepfan Taylor this season. Look for Notre Dame to continue to dominate up front and shut down another running game as they have this season.

Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame WR's and TE's: Tyler Eifert is coming off a good game against Stanford and leads the team with 246 receiving yards on 15 receptions and has 2 touchdowns. TJ Jones has rebounded from an unimpressive second season and is having his best season yet as a junior. He has 235 receiving yards on 19 receptions and has 2 touchdowns, Jones is also very effective in the short passing game as well. Davaris Daniels is having a good season as a redshirt freshman with 14 catches for 231 receiving yards. Robby Toma is also a key receiver in the short passing game with 12 receptions with 118 receiving yards.

Notre Dame WR's vs. BYU DB's: The defensive backs of BYU face a receiving unit that is a young one, but also very talented at the same time. The unit has a high ranking in the pass defense, but was shredded by a backup quarterback of Oregon St. and showed that the BYU defense is not as great as they may seem. Tyler Eifert and Davaris Daniels ought to give the Cougar secondary a good test, it also will depend on quarterback Everett Golson and how fast he recovers from his concussion, but Tommy Rees should be ready to go if not.

Edge: Even

BYU WR's and TE's: Cody Hoffman has been the main target for BYU with 534 receiving yards on 41 receptions and 2 touchdowns. He has double the amount of yards over the number 2 guy, which is Kaneakua Friel who has 23 catches for 266 yards and 4 touchdowns. JD Falslev has 124 receiving yards on 16 receptions and also 1 touchdown. Ross Apo has 94 receiving yards on 13 catches and 1 touchdown as well.

BYU WR's vs. Notre Dame DB's: The big thing for the Irish is stopping Cody Hoffman, he is a big target at 6'4'' and having basically double the receptions and receiving yards as the number 2 guy, Kaneakua Friel. Accounting for Friel is important too since he has 4 touchdowns as well. Bennett Jackson will likely be the guy opposite of Hoffman and if Hoffman and Friel are stopped, it should limit them significantly.

Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame OL: The offensive line had issues at times against Stanford, notably with the large number of false start penalties, and while he is a tight end, Troy Niklas had difficulties in blocking as well with Chase Thomas of Stanford getting consistent pressure winning the battle more often than not. The line has been able to open things up in the running game with 181.2 rushing yards a game and 4.5 yards a carry. The offensive line has allowed 12 sacks on the season and opponents have accounted for 29 tackles for loss.

Notre Dame OL vs. BYU DL: BYU has done a very good job in getting into the opponents backfield with 22 sacks and 54 tackles for loss by the defense. BYU uses a 3 man front that is headlined by senior defensive lineman Romney Fuga and Eathyn Manumaleuna. The defense is strong up front and the battle in the trenches will be a big matchup as the Irish need to reduce false starts and work on consistency as well.

Edge: Even

BYU OL: The Cougars have had trouble in keeping opponents out of the backfield with 18 sacks allowed this season and 39 tackles for loss by opposing defenses. They have done a solid job in run blocking with the team averaging 173.6 rushing yards a game and 4.2 yards per rush. These numbers might go down with the loss of Taysom Hill, however. The offensive lineman had lost many starts from the previous season and dealt with injury issues in the offseason when 9 players on the line were injured for them.

BYU OL vs. Notre Dame DL: The Irish are very strong up front with the defensive line, Stephon Tuitt has been very strong in his second season with a team leading 6.5 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss and 7 quarterback hurries. Louis Nix III has great at nose tackle and the unit as a whole is deep. Considering that BYU has allowed quite a few sacks and tackles for loss, this means that the Irish should be able to get pressure up front and win this battle in the trenches.

Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame DL: This is one of the best units on the entire Notre Dame football team. Stephon Tuitt leads all defensive lineman in tackles at 23, 6.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, 7 quarterback hurries, a fumble recovery for a touchdown, and a blocked kick. Louis Nix has 22 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 2 quarterback hurries and a forced fumble. Kapron Lewis-Moore has 18 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, a sack, and 4 quarterback hurries. The unit is deep as Sheldon Day and Tony Springmann have seen extensive amounts of playing time as well this season.

Notre Dame DL vs. BYU OL: BYU hasn't been great on the offensive line with 39 tackles for loss and 18 sacks allowed. With a team that gets pressure on the quarterback and gets into the backfield often, it looks good for the Irish to consistently rotate players in the defensive line and allow younger players to continue to get a solid amount of playing time as well.

Edge: Notre Dame

BYU DL vs. Notre Dame OL: BYU used a 3 defensive lineman up front with 2 seniors leading the unit in Romney Fuga and Eathyn Manumaleuna. Fuga has 25 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks. Manumaleuna has 11 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble. Other players that have seen time include Russell Tialavea and Bronson Kaufusi.

BYU DL vs. Notre Dame OL: The offensive line of Notre Dame faces a defensive line that is strong, but not to the level of Stanford. Notre Dame's offensive line has had consistency issues at times, and false starts were a clear issue as well in the previous game. If the Irish don't improve on this, it will be a long day for them as BYU has a good front seven overall as well.

Edge: Even

Notre Dame LB's: The linebackers of the Irish are led by the heart of the entire Notre Dame team in Manti Te'o. Te'o leads the team in tackles at 59, and also has 2 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, 3 pass breakups, 3 quarterback hurries, and 2 recovered fumbles. The unit is also deep and gives the Irish a very strong front seven. Dan Fox has stepped up his game and has 31 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, a pass breakup and 2 quarterback hurries. Prince Shembo has been really great at quarterback pressure and has 7 quarterback hurries along with 22 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks. Danny Spond missed the first two games of the season with injury and has since returned and started every game. Other players getting time include Carlo Calabrese, Ishaq Williams, Jarrett Grace, Ben Councell, and Kendall Moore.

Notre Dame LB's vs. BYU: The big matchup to keep an eye on would have to be Te'o and Jamaal Williams of the Cougars. However, the linebacker will also keep an eye on Kaneakua Friel, who leads the team in receiving touchdowns. The linebackers should be able to keep up a strong rotation as well and look for Manti Te'o to have another big game for the Irish.

Edge: Notre Dame

BYU LB's: This has to be by far the best unit on the entire BYU team. Brandon Ogletree leads the team in tackles with 57 and has 6 tackles for loss, 4 pass breakups, and a quarterback hurry. Spencer Hadley is also having a good season and has 34 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 1 pass breakup, and a forced fumble. Uona Kaveinga has 27 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 interception, and a fumble recovery. Ezekiel Ansah is having a good season as well with 30 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 4 pass breakups, and 5 quarterback hurries. Kyle Van Noy is likely the best player of them all with 26 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, 5 pass breakups, 8 quarterback hurries, and 3 forced fumbles. The unit is a very experienced unit that starts 4 upperclassmen and had 3 returning starters going into the 2012 season.

BYU vs. Notre Dame: The linebacker unit as a whole is one of the better units in college football, and a few players are having good seasons. Kyle Van Noy has been one of the best players on the team, if not the best one overall and has accounted for almost all of the defensive stat groups, the unit has been great in getting to opposing backfields, while also keeping pressure on opposing quarterbacks as well. Notre Dame might be the best team they face all season, and it will be an interesting matchup on how they do against the Notre Dame offense.

Edge: BYU

Notre Dame DB's: Despite losses in the injury department, the defensive backs of Notre Dame have put together a surprisingly strong season together. Bennett Jackson has really emerged as a great corner back in his first season as starter. The former wide receiver has 27 tackles, 4 interceptions, a pass breakup, and a fumble recovery. Zeke Motta is the most experienced member in the secondary and has 37 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and a pass breakup. KeiVarae Russell is having a good season as a first year starter and true freshman. The former running back has 23 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks, and an interception. After losing Jamoris Slaughter for the season, redshirt freshman Matthias Farley came in to start. He has responded well and is coming off his best game so far as a Notre Dame football player. He has 17 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 1 interception. Notre Dame has kept 5 of its 6 opponents below 200 passing yards, with the only player to break the 200 mark had just 201 passing yards.

Notre Dame DB's vs. BYU WR's: The big matchup here is Bennett Jackson vs. Cody Hoffman. Hoffman is a big target for BYU and leads in receptions and receiving yards as well. He also isn't the only player to account for as as Ross Apo is also a bigger player a 6'3'', tight end Kaneakua Friel is 6'5'' as well. Notre Dame's secondary has been a real surprise this season and has helped give them one of the best defenses in the country.

Edge: Notre Dame

BYU DB's: The Cougars secondary has only had 3 interceptions in their 7 games this season. Preston Hadley has 38 tackles, 2 tackles, 1 sack, 1 interception, 5 pass breakups, and 2 quarterback hurries. Daniel Sorenson has 33 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 interception, 3 pass breakups, and a forced fumble. Jordan Johnson has 26 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, an interception, and 8 pass breakups. Joe Sampson has 28 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 2 pass breakups, and 1 quarterback hurry.

BYU DB's vs. Notre Dame WR's: BYU faces a talented unit that has options in the short passing game and the deep passing game. They will have to also account for Tyler Eifert, the tight end who can line up at various spots for the Irish as well. TJ Jones has had his best season so far as a Notre Dame player and caught the game winning touchdown in the overtime win over Stanford. This ought to be an interesting matchup between these two teams to keep an eye on.

Edge: Even

Notre Dame Kicking Game: Kyle Brindza has been having a pretty good season as a first time starter. He has made 10 of 12 field goals, including a game winner over Purdue, and a game tying kick to force overtime against Stanford. Ben Turk is averaging 40.5 yards a punt and opponents have fair caught 9 punts, 7 punts have been inside the 20, and 4 were of 50 or more yards. Kyle Brindza is doing well with kickoff duty with a 62.5 yard average and 16 touchbacks on 35 kickoffs.

BYU Kicking Game: Riley Stephenson has been both the kicker and punter this season. He has made 4 of 6 field goals and only has a long of 33 yards. He has done better at punting with a 46.5 yard average on 34 punts. In addition he has had 2 touchbacks, 5 fair caught, 16 inside the 20, and 17 that were 50 or more yards. Kickoff duty has seen two players in the stat department. Justin Sorensen has a 62.2 yard average and 11 touchbacks on 28 kickoffs, while Riley Stephenson has 8 kickoffs and a 60 yard average, but 0 touchbacks and 1 out of bounds as well.

Stronger Unit: Notre Dame

Notre Dame Return Game: The return game for Notre Dame hasn't been as strong as it was in 2011, as George Atkinson III has just 6 returns for 118 yards, and only a 19.7 yard average. Cam McDaniel had 1 return back against Purdue and it went for 25 yards. Davonte Neal has 10 punt returns for 37 yards on the season.

BYU Return Game: Joe Sampson has 6 kickoff returns for 138 yards, Cody Hoffman has 3 returns for 72 yards, and Mike hague has 2 returns for 55 yards. JD Falslev has 13 punt returns for 147 yards this season.

Stronger Unit: BYU

Everything Else: BYU is coming off a blowout loss against Oregon St. where a backup quarterback shredded the BYU pass defense for more than 300 yards and 3 passing touchdowns. The Cougars have won 1 game on the road, and will playing their 3rd road game this season, but BYU has lost only once at home this season. They are also 1-2 against opponents from the Pac-12 conference with the losses at 2-4 Utah and at home against an undefeated Oregon St. team that started a backup against BYU. Notre Dame has been strong on defense this season and has not allowed an opponent to score a touchdown since late in the game against Purdue back in early September. Everett Golson is also a factor as he returned to practice Wednesday after passing concussion tests very recently. Even if Golson isn't ready to go, Tommy Rees has enough experience to manage the game or close out the game. BYU has shown that a backup quarterback can do damage against a BYU. Notre Dame should be able to again have another strong game defensively as well.

Prediction: Notre Dame 28, BYU 3

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