1. On BYU’s 37-yard line, Notre Dame was facing third-and-11 with just over seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, leading BYU 20-13. The Irish opted to go with a screen pass to Cam McDaniel, which gained three yards, setting up a 51-yard field goal attempt for Kyle Brindza. Now, Brindza made the kick, and he’s shown he’s capable of down-to-the-wire kicks in the past, but still I’m not a huge fan of choosing to go with a screen pass on that third down situation. For starters, Notre Dame rarely runs a screen play, and secondly, if you do opt to go that route, why not design it with George Atkinson or T.J. Jones as the intended receivers in a bubble route. But, scratching the screen all-together, I would have thrown downfield to Troy Niklas, TJ Jones or DaVaris Daniels, to try to keep moving the chains or at least offer some breathing room for Brindza.
2. Next year’s offense has potential to score a lot of points. Everett Golson, George Atkinson III, Tarean Folston, Cam McDaniel, DaVaris Daniels, Corey Robinson, Troy Niklas, Ben Koyack and C.J. Prosise are a few key returners on offense. The zone read with Golson at the helm and Folston in the backfield is more than enough reason to be excited for next year’s offensive production. Especially, considering how noteworthy it is the freshman running back broke a number of tackles yesterday and how Atkinson displayed consitent ability to stay on his feet.
3. Yesterday’s dime package came up big on multiple occasions. In particular, it showed grit when BYU faced third-and-seven just one touchdown away from tying the game with 10:50 remaining. BYU was driving at its own 35-yard line and had already picked up one first down on the drive, and Notre Dame forced an incompletion to bring out the punt team. The dime personnel lacks a ton of experience, namely Devin Butler, Cole Luke, Joe Schmidt, Romeo Okwara and Eilar Hardy. Five players that have really stepped up this year on multiple occasions. Stopping the Cougars there led to a Notre Dame field goal, making it a two-possession game.
4. Obviously, one of the bigger storylines from yesterday was the emergence of nose guard Jarron Jones in Louis Nix’s absence. Asked after the game if and why his mindset was different, he explained he had a “humbling experience” that caused him to re-evaulate his focus. When asked what the experience was, he talked about being sent down to the scout team for two weeks earlier this season -- "It's not necessarily a bad thing, but I didn't want to be there," Jones said. Moreover, it’s more than encouraging for Irish fans that Jones displayed such capability yesterday, as he’ll have some big shoes to fill next year.
5. Despite Saturday's freezing temperatures, I don’t have a doubt that the recruits in attendance enjoyed themselves. Without having spoken with 2015 California quarterback Blake Barnett, as he’s still on campus and any contact with him is not allowed at this point, I don’t think it’d be too far off at this point to say Notre Dame has positioned itself as his leader. With 2015 quarterback Jack Beneventi deciding on his college destination in December, all signs point to Notre Dame’s No. 1 quarterback target in 2015 being Barnett. He’s a very solid dual-threat prospect and would be an impressive building block for the rest of this class.
Side note: As far as Richard Yeargin’s unexpected visit to Clemson goes, I highly doubt he’ll be doing interviews considering how things blew up when he said it was falsely reported he wanted to flip to USC a few weeks ago. Still, the fact of the matter is he took a visit to another school that happened to be his second choice at the time of his commitment to Notre Dame. He’s obviously interested in making 100 percent sure his heart is with Notre Dame. However, I don’t see him acting on anything as far as a switch goes any time soon, though a switch closer to February would not surprise me.