Weekly Matchups: Irish head to Vegas for Shamrock Series Clash Against BYU

Rested Irish looks to build off scoring surg.e against North Carolina

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish get back to business on Saturday with a Shamrock Series matchup against the BYU Cougars. This ninth meeting between the two schools will take place at an unfamiliar locale, Allegiant Stadium in suburban Las Vegas. Despite that surrounding glitz, the Irish are zeroed in on collecting their third consecutive victory.

BYU enters this contest with a 4-1 mark and is currently ranked among the Top 25. However, the Cougar defense has some holes that can potentially be exploited by Notre Dame, given that BYU has allowed at least 20 points in each of their five games. They’re also coming off an uneven performance against heavy underdog Utah State, where they struggled to put away the Aggies in a 38-26 win.

Below are some of the key matchups to watch in this clash:

QB Drew Pyne vs. BYU Defense

Pyne has two games as a starter under his belt this season and has remained conservative when it comes to playcalling. That’s allowed him to throw for over 400 yards and five touchdowns in those games, without tossing an interception. For this game, he might be able to open things up, given BYU’s sketchy defense. However, he does need to expand his receiving options.

The Cougars have managed to win four of their first five contests despite not holding any team under 20 points in a game. Those issues were present last Thursday, when BYU defenders struggled to contain Utah State’s reserve quarterback during the first half and had previously given up a season-high 41 points at Oregon. For the year, the Cougars are averaging just one turnover per game.

Notre Dame Defense vs. QB Jaren Hall

The Irish defense is coming off a game in which they allowed 301 yards through the air, with nearly half of that amount coming on two forgettable plays. Notre Dame can’t afford to suffer similar lapses or Hall will chew them up. Forcing turnovers is still a problem on this side of the ball and would be a true asset in this matchup.

Hall is following up an impressive 2021 campaign with another big year. In the first five games, he’s thrown for over 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns, with only one pick thus far. He’s not necessarily mobile, but the Irish need to be wary of trick plays, since he has two receptions on the year, including one touchdown. For 2022, he’s already completed passes to 15 different receivers.

RB Audric Estime vs. MLB Keenan Pili

Estime showed hints of potential in the opener at Ohio State, then truly emerged in the win at North Carolina, He was able to move the ball through sheer force, with his only flaw being a goal-line fumble. That minor matter had no bearing on the game and given the weak BYU rushing defense, he can erase any memory of it with a big game on Saturday.

Pili was sidelined last season after three games with an ACL injury. In those games, he brought down 31 ballcarriers and has 21 stops so far this year. He knows how to get into opposing backfields, yet the Cougars have had issues stopping the run this season. In addition, like the Irish, BYU needs to force turnovers and stop the Irish from establishing their running game.

CB Ben Morrison vs. WR Keanu Hill

Morrison has started the past two games, though Clarence Lewis is still seeing plenty of action. However, Lewis was caught flat-footed against North Carolina, leading to an easy score. That could mean that Morrison becomes a more prominent figure, with the freshman bringing a feisty approach to the field. He’s not a finished product but is clearly getting more comfortable at the position.

BYU has multiple receivers who can do damage on the field, with Hill arguably their biggest deep threat. He’s got quick moves, showing those off in his score against Utah State. Plus, he has the size (6-feet-4) to offer a large target to Hall. Hill has already passed his touchdown total of last season and is on the verge of topping his reception high of 18 in 2021.

TE Michael Mayer vs. SS Ammon Hanneman

Regardless of who takes snaps behind center, Michael Mayer remains a favorite target of Notre Dame quarterbacks. That’s because his large frame offers a frequently visible target and his level of production invites more throws in his direction. He’s reached the end zone in each of the last three games, though he needs some other receivers to step up for this game and beyond.

Hanneman is getting a stiff challenge from former starter Micah Harper, who’s struggled to come back from an ACL injury that sidelined him all of last season. Hanneman collected 13 of his 20 tackles in the Cougars’ games against Baylor and Oregon but generally offers consistent performance. Trying to keep Mayer in check will present him with a stiff challenge.

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  1. David, in the halls of the Economics Department at Oxford, I think, a top English economist stated that mass starvation was “the solution to the Irish problem.” This very language would be adopted by the NAZI party 90 years later. The attempted genocide failed even though the British government did nothing for around 1 million Irish victims, invoking laissez-faire in a fantastic claim that a “hands off” approach would serve the Irish best!
    Thus comes Jonathon Swift, satirically advising the Crown that two problems could be solved by simply having the English people eat Irish babies. But it was British businessmen, philosophers and academics who were the problem more than the Crown. Forgiving is easy, and required by Jesus, but forgetting is impossible (as well as foolish).

    But in the end, Ireland is one island, not two countries . .

    As I said before: It’s time for some GREEN WOKE.

    My grandmother knew this, and my great uncles too, but more to the point is that DAN DEVINE knew it and shared it with his team

    I’m glad the bleeding in North Ireland has stopped, partly due to Elizabeth: the senseless murder of an old Mountbatten and two young boys of the royal family while vacationing in Ireland’s a great example of something to leave in the past. But not the memory of it.

    BGC 77 82

  2. Dopey dave, sorry didn’t know your the supreme manager of the comment section,
    Glad you repented your latest sin

  3. Well children, if you want to get religious about, even racial, do it right.
    See my post on “wearin the green”

    BGC 77 82

      1. The Saints of Ireland forgive you David…based on your love for ND, and the great respect you always showed to G Kelly, who posted here in a past life. As for “sin” , if you are referring to me, you must mean “sinn”, right?
        Queen Elizabeth the Great understood the importance of green, rather than orange, to the Irish. Take a cue from the late greats.

        BGC 77 82

      2. The Netherlands’ House of Orange monarchy has overseen the creation of a society of very productive, perservering, ambitious, and athletically gifted society.

        ND could really use some impressive Dutch length at wide receiver.

  4. I know this is irrelevant, but boy oh boy I miss Kyle Hamilton. Good for him, moving up, but I miss him in an Irish uniform.

    1. Brad – I think Kyle is the only strong safety who could hang with MM; but I guess we’ll see against BYU, if Brad’s analysis is right.

      BGC 77 82

  5. Mormons are (in my career experience) more “financaily aggressive” than Catholics are….and that’s being very polite.
    So the Vegas line might be somewhat more susceptible to some emotional ‘bias’ that can be manipulated to advantage this week.
    Just sayin’.

    1. That would be true if Mormons gambled. There are assuredly a few who do, but it’s such a small number that they have almost no bearing on the Vegas projection as a whole.

      1. The ones I know love money, and their church REALLY admires wealth.
        Some of them are actual crooks….which I think is against their religion too, no?

        Mormons I know would do anything legal they can to make more money……and proudly give a chunk of it to their church every year.
        Mormon hypocrisy is very similar to Catholic hypocrisy.

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