Craig Bills tallied a career high with 15 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss, a personal best, along with an interception and a pass breakup. (Photo by BYU Photo/Mark Philbrick)
Notre Dame defeated BYU 23-13 at Notre Dame Stadium. BYU is now 7-4 on the season and 2-3 on the road. The Cougars fall to 1-5 when playing at South Bend and 2-6 all-time against the Irish.
BYU matched its season low of 13 points in the loss. It is 9-25 under head coach Bronco Mendenhall when scoring less than 24 points.
Marcus Mathews and Cody Hoffman carried the team and special teams flags, respectively. Former wide receiver Glen Kozlowski (1981, 1983-85) carried the alumni flag.
BYU finished the game with 415 yards of total offense, the ninth game this season with 400 or more total yards.
Junior Craig Bills intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter. The Cougars fall to 3-2 when the turnover margin is equal.
Sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill finished with 168 yards through the air and 101 yards on the ground. This season he now has 2,547 passing yards and 1,057 rushing yards, becoming the first quarterback at BYU to pass and rush for 1,000 yards in a season. He is the 23rd quarterback in FBS history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a single year. He recorded his fourth game of the season and fifth of his career with over 100 yards passing and rushing.
Senior receiver/punt returner JD Falslev returned after missing two games and caught the first touchdown of the game, his second of the season. He finished with 27 yards on four catches.
Junior running back Paul Lasike ran for 101 yards, including a long of 46, both personal bests.
Sophomore running back/kick returner Adam Hine recorded 91 yards on kick returns, moving him to No. 16 all-time at BYU and No. 4 for the most in a season by a BYU player with 681 career return yards.
Senior receiver Cody Hoffman caught the ball five times for 49 yards, the 41st consecutive game he has recorded a reception.
Junior safety Craig Bills tallied a career high with 15 tackles. He notched 1.5 tackles for loss, a personal best, and one pass breakup. With 12:09 left in the game, he intercepted a Notre Dame pass in the end zone, the second INT of the season for the junior.
Senior linebacker Uani ‘Unga broke Aaron Franciso’s record for most tackles in one season with 125 as he marked his career-high with 19 tackles on the night. (The NCAA officially began tracking defensive records in 2000.)
Senior safety Daniel Sorensen notched six tackles, including a tackle for loss, his fourth of the season.
Head coach Bronco Mendenhall
First of all, Notre Dame is a first‑class program and facility, same with Coach Kelly. It's a great place to play and a good football team, and it was a good football game. A few opportunities that we didn't make, and I few that Notre Dame did make, Notre Dame earned the win, and I thought there was some courageous efforts on our part. And early in the game, Rob Daniel, our field corner, was ill, all kinds of IVs being pumped into him, wasn't expected to play and then found a way to play about all but the first three or four series in the game, which made a huge difference in us being able to play the pass a little bit more effectively. I was disappointed with the blocked field goal at the end. With that, hopeful to get the ball back one more time and bring it right down to the wire and give Notre Dame credit for blocking the kick.
Can you talk about your running game?
Yeah, I think from the bright side, I was really impressed with Paul Lasike, when he came in, I thought we were physical. I thought we ran downhill. I thought he broke tackles. I thought he gave us a physical presence that was matching what Notre Dame was doing, and that was a real positive. I think excluding the first series, they did a nice job on Jamaal, especially on inside runs and I thought they did a nice job on Taysom on our designed runs. Taysom did a nice job on quarterback scramble, those weren't designed. And so probably the effectiveness of our run game was Lasike with Taysom scrambling.
Could you talk about JD coming back, a little sooner than you expected?
He's committed to our program. He always has been. He plays really hard. He's really tough and it was a nice surprise when I was told at the beginning of the week that he would be able to make it back for this game. He made a few clutch catches, kept a few drives alive and is just a really good player. I don't feel like he or the team saved anything. We just didn't execute quite cleanly enough to make a few more plays.
Your last three red zone chances, they held you to field goals, what were they doing to slow you down in that short end of the field?
Maybe not so much what they were doing. Just what happens at that part of the field is the run game that was working pretty effectively to get us down there, safeties are now closer and so the running game is much more difficult to get the kind of yardage we were getting, and I think that's really what happened. So more specific to where we were than what Notre Dame was doing. Then I actually was signalling touchdown when I saw the slant and No. 13 for Notre Dame knocked it down. I thought Cody had the guy beat inside. That was a huge play. I thought we had a touchdown there. So they made those plays and we didn't.
Craig also made a couple plays on the secondary; what did you see out of him today?
Craig is tough, as well as Daniel Sorensen. Safeties weren't our issues. In fact, we were considering at one point putting Daniel Sorensen at corner if Rob wasn't going to be able to do it. So we were looking at a number of different scenarios. Again all that happened right before we got on the bus. And so we made the best adjustments we could through the first two or three series and finally found one that had some effect but Craig and Daniel was a consistent part of that.
Did the weather play a factor at all in the play calling?
No, I don't think it did. Notre Dame called and ran plays that they had run that we saw and I think we did the same. So I don't think it was a factor.
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly
Well, as I told our team, first and foremost, getting a win at home is always extremely satisfying in that we always want to defend our home stadium. This now puts us at I think 11‑1 in our last 12 games, and that's something that is so important in developing a consistency in your program, is winning at home, and our seniors are so much a part of that in building that consistency at winning at home. And so I thank them for that. Certainly getting a win for them is important. We told them that, you'll get a chance to kiss your mom again. But you'll remember winning the game. That's the most important thing. So we really focused on understanding that it's an emotional day, but we needed to play Notre Dame football: Enthusiastic, and physical and I thought we did that today. We made some plays when we needed to. Again, I think we exhibited defensively a physical presence at the line of scrimmage, stopping except for maybe a long run late in the game, a very, very talented running game and an outstanding quarterback in slowing that offense down. And then a great balance on offense and running the ball and throwing the ball. So very good win for Notre Dame today and really proud of our football team and the way we competed. With that, I'll open up for questions.
Last year and this year, you've rushed very well against BYU. Have you seen anything specifically in their defense that has allowed you to do that?
No, I mean, they are very rangy players on their edge. Van Noy is an outstanding football player. But, you know, he's ‑‑ the way they are built in their 3‑4 defense, we feel like with our big tight ends, we think we can cover them up and if they are in 3‑down, we feel like that's a better match up for us. I think we just match up a little bit better when they are in their 3‑down and when they go to 4‑down, not exactly the way they want to play, because they like to drop eight in coverage. They certainly don't want to be in 4‑down. So I think it's just, we match up pretty good in the running game when we get into teams that run 3‑down.
You were able to hold Jamaal to 49 yards, he came in averaging over a hundred. How were you able to do that?
Well, you know, I think getting out early helped us get him out of some of the inside run game, where I think the game circumstances were such that I think they have to kind of get Hill out on the perimeter and put the ball in his hands a lot more. So I don't know if it was particularly that we did something, but we were really good inside, and I think we have already alluded to the fact that our inside guys played very well.
With the weather conditions today, was there a greater necessity to run more, or was it just the flow of the game dictated it?
No. You know, we felt like we could certainly run the football against BYU, but it was part of what we were certainly about offensively as we have defined more our offense.