"No, it doesn't really matter," said BYU defensive tackle Vince Feula. "We go into each game having the same motive, preparation and we don't take anyone lightly. Coach always says, ‘Respect all, but fear none,' and that's exactly what we will do against Notre Dame. We respect them but we don't fear them, so we take every game as if it's our last and just play them our hardest."
Offensive tackle Jake Kuresa has taken the "respect all, but fear none" to heart. The mental conditioning of the team by the coaches will be the same regardless of who the Cougars face week in and week out.
"I think one thing we've been trying to do is keep it regular like every other week of practice," Kuresa said. "We've picked up the intensity a little bit because we've been doing a little more run in practice and that requires a little more intensity, but I think we've tried to treat it like it's any other game. I mean, obviously we're more excited facing a top 10 team, but we've tried to treat it like any other game.
True freshman offensive guard Terrence Brown once spoke about how Kuresa has taught him confidence by placing before him a grounded perspective on facing tough opponents, and given his anecdotes for not being distracted and staying focused.
"I think it's one of those things where if you talk about it a lot, things like, ‘Oh you gotta be focused because there's going to be a lot of distractions and it's Notre Dame' and if you get those things in your head people start to believe that," said Brown. "Whereas, if you treat it like it's another game and you prepare for it in that way. Sure you're going to realize it is Notre Dame when you get there but you're not going to be overwhelmed.
"You're going to be concentrating on the game as opposed to all the distractions. It's just one of those things where it's better if you don't focus on something because you start focusing on something so much you can't stop thinking about it. So the approach this week is we have another game, we have to prepare as hard as we can and think of it as the most important game up to this point. You know, just like we did the last two games and I think by doing that it's the best way to help us prepare to win."
"When you play teams ranked above you, people concentrate on that so much and all the hype that they don't concentrate on doing their own things, so I feel like if I'm doing my stuff right it doesn't matter who I'm going up against," said Kuresa. "I'm not going to sit there and go, ‘Oh these guys are so good, they're so good' because that's not my personality. I didn't do that last year against Notre Dame, I didn't do that against Boston College and don't do that against anyone, so I'm just going to prepare myself like I always do. I have a lot of respect for them but I'm not scared of them. I'm not going to treat them any different than what they are. They're a football team that we beat last year."
BYU's D-line will face the same players across the offensive line that they did last year with the exception of 6'5", 288-pound Ryan Harris who Feula will match up against on the outside.
"The Notre Dame O-line across the board is pretty good," Feula said. "It's one of the best we'll face all year. The tackle I'm going against has pretty good feet. They all play together and are not very big but they play very sound together and do their assignments and execute.
"This is the same offensive line we faced last year. They were all juniors last year and now all seniors but it's the same line with the exception of one of their tackles who is a junior, but they're all really good because they've been playing together now for a couple of years."
With Daniel Marquardt out for the season, BYU's D-line just got a much needed shot in the arm as the Cougars travel to South bend. After suffering a high ankle sprain that caused him to miss a few games, defensive starter Vince Feula has since returned to the lineup.
"Well, since Dan [Marquardt] is out we just moved Manaia [Brown] inside. He's got a bigger body so hopefully he can do a good job of clogging up the middle, and we got Maddux on the other side and then me on the right side. We should be pretty solid there. The two deep rotation is T.J [Sitaki] on the left then Hala [Paongo] and then Kyle Leukenga on the right side. Me and Manaia [Brown] may switch off depending on how the game goes and if he gets tired or not.
"I'm feeling pretty good and I'm just trying to get back into game shape again. The ankle is still sore but I'm just trying to fight through the soreness. Right now I would say my ankle is about 85% right now, so come game time it should be good.
"I've been watching film on him [Ryan Harris] and he's got pretty good feet. I don't know his name but his number is 68, but he has good mobility as far as his pass stance and run blocking. It should be a good challenge."
Like Feula, his counter part Jake Kuresa and his O-line teammates know what to expect when they line up in the trenches to face the Irish defenders.
"These are the same guys we faced last year except they lost their All-American defensive end," said Kuresa. "It's the same defense as it was last year, and you know what I hate to say it but it doesn't scare me. A lot of times when people face tough competition they worry about the other guys rather than concentrating on what they need to do to win."
The fighting Irish just barely missed knocking the Trojans off their high horse as USC came from behind to win the game in the final seconds of last weeks contest, so what is it that has caused this same Notre Dame team that BYU beat last year to be all that much better this year?
"The biggest difference I've noticed in Notre Dame is they are the same team we beat last year, but this year they have a different mentality and it's all the way across the board and at every position," Kuresa said. "The things I've noticed is guys are playing a little bit harder and guys are playing with a little more swagger. They're a little more confident and a little sounder in their responsibilities, so we're going to have to tighten things up a bit more to beat them this year. We're going to have be precise and execute with precision,"
With BYU missing the opportunity to knock off top ranked Boston College to start the season, BYU will have their second chance at ninth ranked Notre Dame this Saturday.
"It's an incentive and I think we're a lot more prepared and I think we've come a long ways since the last time we played them," said Kuresa. "They're a great team and we have the opportunity to do it again. I'm just excited to get out there and play."