Five thoughts on BYU’s loss to Notre Dame Saturday 17-14:
1. BYU was a quarterback away from winning the game. What’s new right? In all honesty Riley Nelson probably played as well as he could. He threw just one interception and actually tossed the ball away and even ran out of bounds once. At the same time any throws he makes cannot be easily caught. He either throws low or behind his receivers which doesn’t allow for them to make many yards after the catch. And missing the wide open Cody Hoffman late in the game was the difference in the game. Nelson is giving you what he can. The problem is he’s just not talented enough to win big games. And that’s unacceptable for a program like BYU. If the Cougars have had a real QB they would have been celebrating an upset win on the road against the No. 5 team in the country. Instead fans are left with a 4-4 mediocre football team.
2. BYU’s offense needs to be perfect. Due to the limitations of Nelson BYU can’t afford mistakes, penalties, sacks etc. NBC game analyst Mike Mayock hit right on the head calling it a “cupcake” offense due to the dink and dunk philosophy. A perfect example of this was the last long drive of the game in which it took BYU 13 plays to go 50 yards taking 6:42 off the clock burning two timeouts that ended up resulting in a punt. The next time BYU saw the ball was with 22 seconds left in the game. That just cannot happen.
3. It was encouraging to see BYU offensive coordinator Brandon Doman discover that Jamaal Williams can be a workhorse running back. In the first half he had nine carries for 56 yards and had five receptions for 39 yards. The problem is Doman stopped using him in the second half as Williams had just five attempts for eight yards and two catches for three yards.
4. Defensively BYU just finally caved as the big Notre Dame offensive line wore the interior BYU defenders down pounding the ball right at them. That resulted in several missed tackles. The Irish ran for 272 yards and only called three pass plays in the second half. With that said BYU did a good job making adjustments covering tight end Tyler Eifert. After he dominated the secondary early they decided to bracket him and he was ineffective the rest of the game. In the end the defense gave up just 17 points and that should be enough to win the game.
5. Bronco Mendenhall coached teams can’t win the big games. The record speaks for itself–4-13 versus ranked teams. When BYU goes up against elite programs those schools typically have more talent. That is when you need Mendenhall and his staff to devise a game plan and motivate his squad to enable them to pull off the upset. That is where the word “outcoached” comes from. When was the last time you can say Mendenhall “outcoached” someone. And the sad thing is Notre Dame really isn’t that much more talented than BYU. Refer to back to No. 1 on this post. That is the difference in the game and that falls squarely on the back of Mendenhall.