Oct. 20, 2012; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back George Atkinson III (4) stretches the ball across the goal line for a touchdown as BYU Cougars defensive back Daniel Sorensen (9) defends in the fourth quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won 17-14. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame Football Opponent Preview: BYU Cougar Defense

2013 Notre Dame Football

The BYU game was one of many nerve-wracking wins last season, and the 2013 version will be no different.  Both teams come into the week 11 matchup with a 7-3 record and hopes of finishing the season on a high note. Instead of going into this game undefeated, they prepare for the Cougars with their season on the verge of life support.  A loss to the Cougars would easily lead to a 7-5 finish after an undefeated campaign in 2012.

A major theme this season has been the need for a consistent rushing attack and the Cougar defense is one that can be exploited.  The Cougars are giving up about 377 yards a game on the ground and surrendered over 200 against Wisconsin two weeks ago.

The running game will be the key to set up a successful passing attack for the Irish this weekend. Look for Brian Kelly to get the run game going early on to help Tommy Rees setup the passing attack. If the Irish can’t get some movement on the ground, this will quickly make the Irish offense one-dimensional.

 The Cougars pass defense is allowing just over 220 yards a game through the air, but that average could get increased dramatically if Tommy Rees can finish his career in South Bend with balance offensive attack.  With the Cougars likely out to stop the run game early, this could leave the secondary vulnerable.

Everyone knows about senior linebacker, and undisputed leader of the Cougar defense, Kyle Van Noy. Van Noy is not blowing anyone away statistically; however, his leadership is vital to the success of the BYU defense. With the Cougar defense vulnerable at all levels, Van Noy will need to play his best game of the season against an Irish attack that, when balanced, can be extremely disruptive.

In each of the 7 Irish victories this season, they have run the ball a minimum of 30 times and never allowed the game to solely rest on the shoulders of Tommy Rees. The formula for senior Day at Notre Dame Stadium will be no different. With temperatures in the high 20’s, this could easily become a game of field position and time possession. The Irish thrive in close games, and for the sake of a senior class that has been instrumental in transforming expectations in South Bend; I hope the Irish thrive once more.

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