Notre Dame Football: Grading All 22 Starters from the BYU Game
It's that time of the week, folks. Grades for Notre Dame's 17-14 victory over BYU are in, and they may not be as pretty as you'd like.
Per usual, the offense was anemic against a stellar defense, adding to the belief that the Irish may leave Norman, Oklahoma with their first loss of the season next Saturday.
Now, let's see those grades.
Tommy Rees, QB
Rees—starting in place of the concussed Everett Golson—had a brilliant first half in which he completed six of his first seven pass attempts, including a four-yard touchdown lob to tight end Tyler Eifert.
However, Rees was ice cold in the second half, misfiring on seven consecutive passes to finish the day having completed just seven of 16 pass attempts for 117 yards and an interception. Credit the interception to wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, though, as the redshirt freshman let the ball bounce off of his chest and into the hands of BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy.
Cierre Wood, RB
Wood continued his path of redemption by trampling over a BYU defense that entered the contest ranked third nationally in rushing defense. Wood accumulated a season-high 114 yards on 18 carries.
T.J. Jones, WR
Jones’ emergence as a leader of a thin and young wide receiver unit was again on display on Saturday. Jones finished second among Irish receivers with two receptions for 40 yards.
Robby Toma, WR
Toma didn’t record a reception against BYU, but don’t be quick to lay the blame on the Hawaiian native. The offensive game plan was centered around the rushing attack on Saturday, resulting in few opportunities for Toma to get in on the action.
John Goodman WR
John Goodman failed to record a reception on Saturday and was virtually invisible on the field. Whether or not he will emerge as a threat remains to be seen.
Tyler Eifert, TE
Becoming somewhat of a ghost within the Irish offense in recent weeks, Tyler Eifert returned to form against BYU, hauling in four receptions for 73 yards and one score.
Christian Lombard, RT
Despite the right edge of the Irish offensive line coming under fire from media personnel many a time this season, right tackle Christian Lombard has steadily improved. Lombard contained BYU’s pass rush while not allowing a sack.
Mike Golic, Jr., RG
Perhaps the most criticized member along Notre Dame’s offensive line through seven games this season, Golic, Jr. put together a solid, four-quarter effort against BYU.
Braxston Cave, C
Often considered the leader of a somewhat anemic Irish offense, Cave suffered through a few mental mistakes against the Cougars. One false start penalty and a few poor snaps are not typically credited to Cave, but such was the case on Saturday.
Chris Watt, LG
Watt—along with left tackle Zack Martin—paved the way for a monstrous rushing attack that produced 270 yards on the day.
Zack Martin, LT
Martin continues to display why he may be a late first-round draft pick in either this spring’s NFL draft or the 2014 edition by mauling pass-rushers and protecting both Tommy Rees’ and Everett Golson’s blind side.
Stephon Tuitt, DE
Tuitt terrorized BYU quarterback Riley Nelson all afternoon, essentially living in the backfield, though he missed an easy sack opportunity in the first quarter.
Louis Nix, NG
Having a nose guard of Louis Nix’s caliber makes a defense immediately more effective against the run, as Nix displayed on Saturday. The Cougars have difficulties running the ball through the A-gaps due to Nix’s disruption in those running lanes.
Kapron Lewis-Moore, DE
While he’s not as disruptive as fellow defensive end Stephon Tuitt, Lewis-Moore brings consistency to the table each and every week. His efforts in limiting the Cougars to 66 rushing yards can’t be overlooked.
Danny Spond, LB
Spond has excelled in his return from a concussion, giving the Irish tremendous flexibility at the CAT linebacker position, which was again beaming against BYU.
Manti Te'o, LB
Te’o was being Te’o on Saturday, racking up 10 tackles to go along with his fourth interception of the season. With West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith plummeting down Heisman Trophy watch lists, Te’o‘s chances at bringing home the hardware will only increase.
Dan Fox, LB
Stuffing the run has always been Fox’s specialty, which made his matchup against shifty BYU running back Jamaal Williams even more intriguing. Fox was in on nearly every running play until an injury sidelined him midway through the second half.
Prince Shembo, LB
Shembo’s ferocity as a pass-rusher was apparent against BYU, as he hurried Cougars quarterback Riley Nelson into quick throws and poor decisions.
Bennett Jackson, CB
Though he went down with an injury in the second half, Bennett Jackson played within himself against BYU. He didn’t allow big plays down the field, which resulted in Riley Nelson only accumulating 177 passing yards on the day.
KeiVarae Russell, CB
Russell was picked on early and often against BYU, often finding himself matched up with BYU’s leading receiver, Cody Hoffman. Mental lapses will doom Russell, but his physical skills are up to par.
Matthias Farley, SS
One of two Riley Nelson touchdown passes is directly attributed to the coverage breakdown of Matthias Farley. BYU’s Cody Hoffman was left wide open behind the defense for an easy BYU score in the first quarter.
Zeke Motta, FS
Motta’s leadership within the secondary was lacking at times against BYU, which should make the Irish nervous for the impending matchup with Oklahoma this weekend.