John Beck had a great start to the game and had a good outing overall. He found the open receiver on most occasions and converted some critical third and fourth down situations. He was effective when running the football, scoring a touchdown, sneaking the ball across the line on a crucial fourth down conversion and running out of the pocket to convert a third down conversion.
Beck's deep balls were thrown very well which went for naught on most occasions as Watkins had two drops that killed two Cougar drives. Beck was good in the pocket, but danced around on a couple of occasions when he did not have to causing sacks that were not warranted.
My biggest bug-a-boo about Beck in this game was his continued lack of touch on sideline fade passes. He threw two critical fade passes on third down out of bounds and one on the final drive when BYU was in ND's territory on fourth down. What drives you nuts is that when he throws the ball on a line and out of bounds he gives the receiver no chance on the ball in crucial situations. If you are going to under throw it, fine, it gives the WR a chance to make a play on the ball, but these balls simply cannot be overthrown on these routes with no air under them.
It was a solid game for Beck overall, though. It is easy to be nit-picky in a game that BYU was in for the good part of three quarters. His command of the offense is getting better with each game. He has not been perfect, but has now put three solid outings in a row together which I feel has been his best stretch of football games since he arrived at BYU.
Running Backs: B+
The running backs were probably the best position on the field for BYU today. Fahu Tahi had an outstanding game catching the ball out of the backfield and fell forward numerous times on running plays for extra yards. Tahi was BYU's best back today.
Curtis Brown made some hard yards and caught the ball well out of the backfield as well with one drop notwithstanding. Not his best game, but he went against a formidable front today.
This was Todd Watkins' game to shine as Notre Dame played their safeties closer to the line of scrimmage than any team faced prior. Watkins simply blew it dropping two deep passes right in his basket. His first drop came the play after BYU's defense stopped the Irish on offense forcing them to punt and had a 10-7 lead. Had he caught that pass, BYU likely scores on that drive giving BYU tremendous momentum. It was a big turning point of the game. Watkins came back and had some nice grabs, but dropping three passes in a game of this magnitude is inexcusable.
Offensive Line: B+
This was a solid outing from the offensive front, as we have come to expect from this unit. This was easily the best defensive front they have gone against since the Boston College game. All the sacks given up were coverage sacks and they got a decent push forward on most running plays.
Defensive Line: B
The defensive line was not the problem today as they held the Irish run game very much in check. They created effective gaps for the LBs to make plays, had more knock-downs of passes than the safeties and cornerbacks combined and mounted a decent pass rush.
Linebackers were not the defensive problem either as Notre Dame scored 42 points on the Cougar defense without much problem. Cameron Jensen, Justin Luettgerodt and Paul Walkenhorst effectively stuffed the run and blitzed effectively when Quinn did five-step drops in the pocket. The running backs and tight end did not kill the Cougar defense as these were held in check by the linebackers by and large.
Brady Quinn, Maurice Stovall and Jeff Samardzija are all very capable players who form one of the better passing attacks in the country. BYU's CBs simply made them look like the best QB and WRs in the history of college football today. I think the Notre Dame PA announcer was barely able to list the records they collectively set today as I left Notre Dame Stadium.
BYU's CBs were completely overmatched and could not make plays on the ball save for a single knockdown by Justin Robinson in the back of the end zone. Notre Dame did whatever they wanted throwing the football and BYU's DBs had no answer.
The safeties had one of their better games tackling in the backfield and in the flats. Corby Hodgkiss is proving to be maybe the best blitzer among all of them as he got to the quarterback again on a couple of occasions with minimal reps.
The safeties, like the cornerbacks, made few if any plays on passes downfield. With BYU's offense moving the ball like they did, it was incumbent on BYU's backfield to make one or two plays that could stop the Irish on occasion and help mount a Cougar comeback, but the only plays that came were in the form of sacks, knockdowns at the line of scrimmage by the linebackers or defensive linemen or miss-throws by Brady Quinn. I cannot think of many occasions where a defensive back stepped up to make a play downfield throughout the course of the ball game.