BYU vs. Notre Dame: 10 Things We Learned in the Irish's Win
Led by a balanced offensive attack, Notre Dame defeated Brigham Young 23-13 on Saturday afternoon.
The Fighting Irish were much more impressive during the first half, but a stout defensive effort largely kept an elusive Taysom Hill and the Cougars off the scoreboard.
Since it was a tale of two halves, though, there were plenty of lessons learned in Notre Dame's final home game of the season.
Brian Kelly's team improved to 8-3 in 2013 and will travel to Stanford next weekend.
Tommy Rees Did Not Finish Strong
His first pass went for 61 yards and a touchdown, but things only went downhill from there for the senior gunslinger.
Excluding that throw, Tommy Rees went 14-of-27 for 174 yards and an interception.
Additionally, Rees underthrew DaVaris Daniels and TJ Jones when a good pass would have resulted in a touchdown.
The Irish managed just three field goals over the game's final 49 minutes, and if it were not for a stellar defensive effort, Notre Dame may have fallen short.
Cam McDaniel Had a Career Day
Cam McDaniel accomplished his previous career-best day a month ago against USC, but he topped that 92-yard performance on Saturday.
McDaniel bruised the BYU defense for 117 yards, including a long run of 32.
Considering the icy conditions, 247Sports' Andrew Owens notes head coach Brian Kelly called McDaniel "an ideal back" for the game.
He is an excellent change-of-pace back for the Irish and should continue to receive double-digit carries as a senior.
Tarean Folston Is Steadily Improving
Tarean Folston didn't play much at the beginning of the season, receiving garbage-time touches in a few games.
But the true freshman broke out against Navy, racking up 140 yards and showing he can handle more touches.
Though only receiving a four-carry day the following week at Pitt, Folston was impressive against BYU. He refused to go down at first contact and eluded a handful of defenders throughout the game.
If it wasn't suspected before, it's becoming clear that Folston is the Notre Dame running back of the future.
DaVaris Daniels Had His Best Game Since September
DaVaris Daniels has been consistent this season, and the junior receiver even stepped up against the Cougars.
Set up by McDaniel and Folston's collective success, Daniels was beating BYU defensive backs all game long.
Daniels caught six passes for 107 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown that opened the scoring.
Plus, if it were not for an underthrown pass by Rees, Daniels would have had another long score off a play-action fake.
TJ Jones Kept Drives Alive
TJ Jones suited up for his last game at Notre Dame Stadium, and he made it a memorable one.
Jones caught five passes for 95 yards, but four of the senior wide receiver's receptions kept Irish drives alive. What's more, three of these grabs came on third down.
Rees connected with Jones for 30- and 32-yard gains, and the only catch that did not result in a first down was a yard short.
Jones has at least 90 yards receiving in five of Notre Dame's last six games and has accomplished that feat seven times this season.
The Offensive Line Contained Kyle Van Noy
Senior linebacker Kyle Van Noy is hovering near the bottom of the first round in many 2014 NFL draft boards, but the offensive line of the Irish contained the heralded prospect.
Typically known for causing disruption in the backfield, Van Noy could not wrap up throughout the day.
Notre Dame's big men left Van Noy sprawling to make tackles, and the Irish's running backs refused to go down via arm tackles.
It was a very impressive day from a Notre Dame offensive line that overcame starting center Nick Martin getting knocked out of the game during the first quarter.
The Defense Made Timely Stops
BYU's offense was able to move the ball on Saturday, but Notre Dame's defense tightened up in pressure situations.
The Irish allowed 415 yards and 11-of-20 third-down conversions, but the Cougars were forced to punt four times, turned the ball over on downs twice and went 0-of-2 on fourth down.
Notre Dame also held BYU to a pair of red-zone field goals, and that was a big reason the Irish emerged victorious.
The defensive unit gave up yards, but it limited points against—and that tends to help a team's probability of winning.
Dan Fox Had a Career Day
Linebacker Dan Fox was all over the field for Notre Dame, and he topped or matched various previous career highs during his final appearance at home.
Fox tied personal bests with nine tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sacks and one pass breakup. On the season, he now has a career-high 75 tackles, including 5.0 for loss.
BYU's rushing attack found its yards, but Fox was a big reason the Irish kept Taysom Hill and Jamaal Williams from ripping off long runs.
Kyle Brindza Came Up Clutch
Notre Dame was clinging to a seven-point lead, head coach Brian Kelly was visibly frustrated with Tommy Rees and the game was getting too interesting for Irish fans.
Despite a swirling wind, Kelly sent out Brindza for a 51-yard field goal, and the junior kicker absolutely drilled it.
Brindza had nailed two short field goals earlier and, ultimately, was the only Notre Dame player to score after the first quarter.
Jarron Jones Decided the Game
Jarron Jones had the unenviable task of replacing Louis Nix, but the sophomore defensive lineman was an enormous reason the Irish won.
Jones clogged the trenches, amassing seven total tackles (four solo) for the Notre Dame front.
Most importantly, though, Jones blocked a BYU field goal late in the fourth quarter that would have allowed the Cougars' final drive to actually mean something.
Instead of a one-possession game, however, BYU was fighting a 10-point deficit, eventually running out of time and falling to Notre Dame.