What else can be said about Brady Quinn after the performance he had Saturday? Quinn started off his day hitting 25 of 30 for 287 yards and 3 touchdowns in the first half alone. Quinn was far from finished a record setting day however. He went on to add another 3 touchdowns in the 3rd quarter and finished the day 32 of 41 for 467 yards and a school record 6 touchdowns.
Quinn’s 6 touchdowns gives him 20 on the season — another Notre Dame record. With 20 touchdowns through 7 games, Quinn is on pace to toss over 30 touchdowns this year with 4 games remaining against some suspect defenses (other than Tennessee’s). I don’t think Quinn could have played much better than he did on Saturday. He was cool under pressure, avoided the blitz, and was dead on accurate all day.
Notre Dame found it tough to run against BYU with the Cougars stacking the line against the Irish. Darius Walker ran for just 17 yards on 7 carries, easily his least impressive performance of the year. The backs did however provide good pass protection in picking up the blitz.
Darius Walker also was a factor in the passing game with a 37 yard screen pass from Quinn. It wasn’t a great day for the backs, but they held onto the ball and got what they could when there was room.
Jeff Samardjiza and Maurice Stovall became the first wide receiver duo in Notre Dame history to each record 10 or more catches in a single game. Stovall caught 14 passes for 207 yards and a single game record 4 touchdowns. Stovall had his single greatest game of his career Saturday with touchdowns of 10, 15, 36, and 24 yards. Stovall now has 40 catches for 625 yards and 5 touchdowns on the season — all career highs just 7 games into the season.
Jeff Samardjiza did what he does — catch touchdowns. Jeff added 2 more touchdowns this week for 11 this season — tying Derrick Mayes’ single season record. Samardjiza caught 10 passes for 152 yards giving him 44 on the season for 750 yards.
Matt Shelton and David Grimes each added 8 yard receptions and Anthony Fassano had another 5 catches for 55 yards, but fumbled in opponent’s territory for the 2nd week in a row. I would bet Fassano will be working on his ball handling with the bye week coming up after his 2nd quarter fumbled ended a Notre Dame scoring opportunity as the half ended.
The line is difficult to grade out this week. On one hand the Irish run game was non existent. On the other hand, BYU was crowding the line and forcing the Irish to pass, which they did and did extremely well. Quinn was sacked just 1 time by BYU and had good time to play most of the day.
The one thing that really bothered me with the line were the penalties in the first half which hurt their momentum at times. Ryan Harris got flagged a couple times in the first half that negated first downs. It wasn’t there most impressive performance and with Tennessee’s talented defensive line coming to town in 2 weeks, the line will need to step it up.
Victor Abiamiri, Derek Landri, and Ronald Talley combined for 4 sacks against BYU and got good pressure on John Beck with just the front four most of the game. Talley got the start in place of the injured Chris Frome and played well with 7 tackles and the sack. Talley played well in his first start. He was out of place at times, but for his first career start, he played fairly well. He definitely has a high motor that doesn’t stop.
Derek Landri missed about a quarter of the game with an injury but returned. With the lack of depth on the interior line, Landri’s health is a concern. He had a few false starts against BYU with his quick burst off the line which helped sustain drives for BYU. Still, Landri has been excellent this year and hopefully he will be back to 100% for Tennessee.
Tackling was atrocious at times with BYU runners breaking tackles left and right. Rarely did a BYU back go down on first contact and the linebackers missed a number of tackles. Maurice Crum had some trouble keeping up with Jonny Harline who scored one of BYU’s touchdowns, but showed good timing on blitzes.
Most of the Notre Dame blitzes were slow to develop and picked up nicely by the BYU offensive line and running backs. Crum however showed some good instincts on a couple of occasions and came in untouched to force bad throws.
Another quarterback threw for over 300 yards against the Irish, but overall the secondary didn’t play all that bad. They were added with numerous drops by BYU receivers but Mike Richardson and Tom Zbikowski both interceptions. Richardson however proceeded to fumble his without contact and lost possession. Zbikowski however took his 83 yards for a touchdown to put the final nail in the coffin.
BYU has a high powered passing offense so its not a surprise they put up some yards. What is important is that they made plays when they had to, such as Zbikowski intercepting a Beck pass on a two point conversion attempt.
Notre Dame’s kick coverage was pretty good against BYU considering how many times they kicked off. BYU’s longest return was 25 yards which is pretty average. On the flip side, Notre Dame’s return game wasn’t too spectacular either. DJ Hord saw the first action of his college career on returns and looked like a freshman on his first return when he and Brandon Harris ran into each other.
Other than returns, there wasn’t much to do for Notre Dame’s special teams. They only punted 4 times and DJ Fitzpatrick only had to kick extra points.
Charlie Weis called a masterful game. He had BYU on its heels all game long and passed as long as BYU kept 8 and 9 men in the box as he said at half time. BYU seemed determined to stop the running game and Weis responded by throwing it all day and coming out of the gates with a 5 wide receiver set.
Defensively, I think Minter called a good game. He dialed up some good blitzes and his defense held BYU when they had to. Minter has taken some heat from the boards, but I think he is doing a pretty good job with some players who aren’t in their ideal position. The one thing I have issues with are the slow developing blitzes that keep getting called. Most of Notre Dame’s blitzes are picked up well and develop slowly allowing opposing quarterbacks to pick apart single coverage.
It was an incredible job by the coaching staff getting the team ready to play after an emotional loss like the one to USC. There was not really an emotional let down and the Irish won the game handily.
This was the perfect follow up to USC for Notre Dame since it allowed the offense to put up some gaudy numbers and allowed the defense to make some plays against an undermanned BYU team. Some BYU players felt the Irish couldn’t hang with them because the Cougars beat the Irish in the season opener last year, but they failed to realize this is a new Notre Dame team with a new coach. The days of Notre Dame losing to the BYU’s, Pitt’s, and Boston College’s of the world are over.