Notre Dame’s seniors enjoyed a win for the last time in their home stadium with a solid performance against Brigham Young University just a few weeks after their season took a major downturn with an upset loss to Pittsburgh. Coach Brian Kelly liked what he saw out of his players against a tough BYU team.
The Chicago Tribune reported that Kelly explained, "This is the way we have to play football. This is how we're capable of playing. It's a much more physical brand of football that we are capable of playing, and quite frankly, our team knew that and they responded accordingly."
The offense definitely did their part and struck early when Tommy Rees hit Davaris Daniels with a 61-yard touchdown pass to give Notre Dame an early lead in the first quarter. Rees had a solid day but did throw an interception late in the game that ended up being insignificant. BYU was able to keep it pretty close for most of the game but Notre Dame never lost the lead.
Later in the first quarter, freshman running back Tarean Folston scampered into the endzone for Notre Dame’s only other touchdown. Folston finished with 78-yards on the day but was outdone by junior Cam McDaniel who had a career high 117-yards. The strong rushing attack made it easier on the passing game and will hopefully give the players the confidence needed to capture a win at Stanford.
BYU scored their only touchdown in the first quarter. Notre Dame’s defense played smart and big against the BYU offense. Both young and older players were showing up for the Irish defense. Freshman Jaylon Smith continued to play big for Notre Dame and certainly has a bright future ahead of him. Another young guy, Jarron Jones, had a monster day racking up seven tackles and blocking a late field goal attempt. Notre Dame needs young players to keep stepping up to make sure their name gets on the list when Brian Kelly is filling soon to be vacant positions.
Both team’s kickers were called on numerous times to make plays. Notre Dame’s Kyle Brindza made three out of his three kicks and even booted 51-yarder late in the game. Brindza, who also punts for the Irish, has had a strong, steady season for the Irish and deserves some recognition.
Notre Dame now has their eyes set on Stanford. Having lost to Pitt, the Irish have nothing really riding on the game and that will hopefully alleviate any pressure. Beating Stanford would require a complete team effort and no turnovers. After Stanford, it seems the Pinstripe Bowl in New York at Yankee Stadium will likely be the destination for Notre Dame at the end of the season.