The Cougars did what not many teams have done all year long: score touchdowns against Notre Dame in the red zone. However, in the end the Cougars couldn’t pull a Rudy and get the job done.
As always the Cougar offense lives and dies with an inconsistent Riley Nelson. Nelson threw two touchdowns but also couldn’t complete the short, open passes when needed. Nelson needed to have a good game to pull out the victory, and instead he had a below-average one, throwing as many interceptions as he did touchdowns.
Running backs: B
Jamaal Williams played tough against one of the better linebacker corps in the country. At times Williams was able to make something out of nothing and find holes to get into the second tier of the defense. It was an overall good game for Williams and the running backs.
Wide receivers: B
Cody Hoffman played well as the primary weapon and Ross Apo made a brief appearance from time to time. The receivers could have made a much bigger impact had Nelson gotten the ball to them the ball on crucial plays. The Cougar receiving corps is still very one-dimensional, with there not being a second threat to complement Hoffman downfield.
Offensive line: C+
The offensive line played much better last week against Oregon State than it did this week against Notre Dame. Missing Braden Hansen in the second half really hurt the Cougar interior line. In fact, a sack given up at a crucial time in the game came from the interior of the offensive line. BYU’s offensive line gave up four sacks, and the Notre Dame defense was able to put pressure on Nelson with a three-man rush. The offensive line’s performance dropped off considerably without Hansen at the center position.
If there is a chink in the armor of BYU’s defense, it’s the safety position. The Cougar defense is designed to funnel everything towards the safeties, and when that position failed to execute and tackle on Saturday, the result was one of the best rushing performances for the Irish all season long.
Defensive line: B
The defensive line did a very good job against one of the most talented offensive lines they’ll face all season long. Bronson Kaufusi had a sack, and the defensive linemen played their gaps very well, allowing for linebackers to put pressure on Tommy Rees.
The 270 rushing yards brings down BYU’s linebacker grade, but Kyle Van Noy, Preston Hadley and Brandon Ogletree had very good games. Most of Notre Dame’s rushing yards came in big chunks due to missed tackles and a lack of run support from the safety position. In the pass defense, the linebackers played well in man-zone coverage over the middle, but the story of the game was the 270 rushing yards gained against the defense in the end.
Defensive backs: C
The cornerbacks with Jordan Johnson and Preston Hadley had a solid game against the talented Notre Dame receivers. The play of Preston Hadley and Jordan Johnson raise the grade. The real issue with BYU’s defense was the safety position. The defense is designed to funnel run plays towards the safeties, where containment is demanded. However, much like against Oregon State and Boise State, the safeties were unable to execute, played undisciplined and were unable to make the tackles when in a position to do so. Most of the run yardage by Notre Dame was due to poor run support from the safety position.