BYU will travel to South Bend, Indiana as an underdog to fifth-ranked Notre Dame on Saturday. The game could turn out to be a possible win for the Cougars, but with the way that the quarterbacks and the defense have played lately, it is unlikely.
So, how could the Cougs pull it off? With these five keys—and a little bit of luck—they may find a way to beat the Irish. Enjoy.
Riley Nelson has thrown one touchdown and committed seven turnovers in the last two games that he's played in. And frankly, handing the ball over against a feisty Irish defense is practically giving points away.
Of course, Nelson is a good player when he has time to make a throw, but when he is rushed out of the pocket without running space, he'll make a bad pass that often leads to a turnover. The offensive line will need to step it up as well in order to win.
Cody Hoffman is BYU's offensive playmaker. Period.
Sure, you could make the case that Jamaal Williams is the guy that BYU needs to get the ball to, or Kaneakua Friel can barrel through defenders like none other, but no Cougar can make catches and rack up stats like Cody Hoffman.
Problem is, BYU doesn't have a quarterback that can throw to him often enough. I don't care if Nelson throws Hoffman screen passes for short gains, but as long as he has the ball in his hands and space you can know that he won't disappoint.
BYU has some of the best pass rushers in the nation, including Ezekiel Ansah and Kyle Van Noy. Unfortunately, they had one heckuva time trying to get in the backfield against Oregon State. Against Notre Dame, that simply can't happen.
Whether it be Tommy Rees or Everett Golson taking snaps for the Irish, the Cougars need to put pressure on him. Forcing the quarterback to make errant passes is how BYU will get back possessions.
It doesn't matter if Ziggy Ansah is chasing Everett Golson around all day if Tyler Eifert and TJ Jones are left wide open. This is where Preston Hadley and the Cougar backs come in handy; they need to play lockdown defense on the Irish receivers.
BYU should force Notre Dame to run the ball into the gaping jaws of BYU's third-ranked rushing defense, and play from there. If BYU can't eliminate the pass, Golson and the Irish offense will be hard to stop.
This is definitely the most straightforward key: BYU desperately needs to find the end zone. It doesn't matter if BYU's defense gives up 60 points or six; if the Cougar offense can't match it, there isn't a difference.
They need to get the running game going through Jamaal Williams and David Foote, then run play action by way of Cody Hoffman or Ross Apo. If they can't score regularly, don't expect BYU to leave South Bend with a win.