BYU Next Irish Opponent

<P>Notre Dame (3-6) will now set their sights on BYU. The Cougars (4-6) have been struggling this season—much like the Irish--including an embarrassing 50-14 loss to Boise State at home in their last game. The Cougars haven't played a difficult schedule, but they do have two weeks to prepare. Can the Irish keep their bowl hopes alive? </P>

The Cougars have beaten four teams so far. They've played only one ranked team in USC. They lost the game 35-18 in their second game of the season. They are 1-3 in their last four games with their lone win coming against UNLV in overtime. Colorado State scored 58 points on the Cougar defense, and Boise State scored 50.

The Cougars have struggled both on offense and defense. They are averaging less than 103 yards rushing per game. Their one potent passing attack is now averaging just 229 yards per game. The offense only scores a little over 18 points per game.

Their problems don't end with their offense. Their defense surrenders a little over 27 points per game. They allow around 125 yards per game on the ground, and surrender 185 yards passing per game. They've allowed 14 touchdowns on the ground and 13 touchdowns through the air.

Their offense line looks to be one of the problems on offense. They've allowed 31 sacks on the season. They have also converted just 32 percent of their third down opportunities. They've lost 15 fumbles on the year. They also appear to struggle from inconsistent quarterback play as they've thrown 17 interceptions on the year—three that went for touchdowns. They've also had three fumbles returned for touchdowns on the year. The Cougars are averaging 3.2 turnovers per game. They have only rushed for five touchdowns on the year.

The Cougars have been trying to find the right guy at quarterback. Here are the stats from all their quarterbacks in the last game at Boise State. Todd Mortensen (5-24-1-51); Matt Berry (7-18-3-35); Jackson Brown (5-9-0-57); Jason Beck (4-8-0-64).

Berry appears to be the guy who's played the most. He is 129-for-201 for 1209 yards and seven touchdowns. He's completing 64 percent of his passes but has also thrown 10 interceptions on the year including three in the last game. Beck has also played a lot completing 73-for-145 passes for 864 yards and five touchdowns. He's also thrown five interceptions. Mortensen is completing just 40 percent of his passes and has thrown two interceptions on the year. We have no idea who will start, but they've all struggled this year.

The main rushing threat is Rey Brathwaite. Brathwaite has rushed 131 times for 735 yards and only one touchdown. They do give the ball to other backs but none have much more than 100 yards on the season.

BYU does throw the ball to a number of receivers. Nine players have more than 11 receptions. Their main target is wider receiver, Toby Christensen. Christensen has 48 catches for 497 yards and 4 touchdowns on the year. The Cougars also throw a lot to their tight end, Daniel Coats. Coats has 30 receptions on the year for 378 yards and four touchdowns. Chris Hale is the other wide receiver likely to get the ball as he has 32 receptions on the year. They do throw to Brathwaite out of the backfield but have had limited success thus far.

On defense, safety Aaro Fransico leads the team with 92 tackles. Linebackers Mike Tanner, Colby Bockwoldt, and David Nixon are in the top five in tackles with 61, 59 and 45 tackles on the year. Corner James Allen is fourth on the team in tackles with 46 and has chipped in four sacks on the season. Defensive lineman Brad Poppinga has four sacks on the year. Most of their sacks have come from linebackers or defensive backs on the year so they do like to gamble on defense.

The Cougars don't run the ball well (3.0 yards per carry) and they aren't very efficient in their passing game. Their defense has been pretty solid against the pass, allowing just 185 yards per game, but have surrendered 13 touchdowns on the year and 35 percent conversion on third down.

Teams have tried to attack them on the ground averaging 40 rushing attempts per game. They are only allowing 3.2 yards per carry on the ground and 125 yards rushing per game so they are pretty stingy against the run.

Their 3.2 turnovers per game are likely the reason they are struggling. The Irish will have to hold onto the football, and have a balanced attack to beat the Cougars. This should be a fairly easy game to win, but you never know. Top Stories