Quinn got a lot of help. Jeff Samardzija caught two touchdowns and has 11 on the year. With one more scoring grab, he'll break the tie with current-record holder Derrick Mayes set in 1994.
The main receiving target on Saturday was Maurice Stovall. The 6-5 senior went off, catching 14 balls for 207 yards and four touchdowns. The 14 grabs break Jim Seymour's old record of 13 receptions set in 1966 against Purdue. The four touchdowns also are a new Irish record for receivers. Head coach Charlie Weis made Stovall lose weight in the off-season to be leaner and more in-shape.
"I think it's greatly helped him," Weis said. "He was eating himself into a tweener. He was 237 pounds. Sometimes those big receivers think bigger is better. That's usually not the same because your stamina is not that good. It might good for a tight end but it's not good for a wide receiver."
Quinn said there is more than the weight loss to Stovall's resurgence this season.
"Maurice has really risen to the occasion," Quinn said. "He's just made plays when he's had to. He's making plays when called upon. His big thing was dropping the weight and everyone knows about that. But people don't know how much time he spends in the film room and working on his technique to make him a better player. It's helped."
Stovall now has 40 catches on the season and five touchdowns. Coming into 2005, he had seven total receiving scores and his career-high in catches was 22. Needless to say, Stovall has benefited from the new Weis offense. Stovall and Samardzija had such big days because BYU was blitzing a lot and their cornerbacks were not playing them bump and run. Weis and Quinn saw this and made the Cougars pay.
"It's fun anytime you can get them the ball and let them do what they do best," Quinn said. "They're tremendous with the ball once they get it into their hands."
*The defense once again did not have the best statistical day but held the quirky Cougars to 23 points. The Irish gave up 317 yards passing and it could have been more if BYU wide receiver Todd Watkins did not drop three balls that would have gone for big plays. Tom Zbikowski returned a pickoff for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, his second touchdown in as many games. Mike Richardson did get his third interception of the year but fumbled the ball on the return and the Cougars recovered.
"I think they were up and down," Weis said. "There were times when BYU was moving the ball at will. But there were also times, like in the first half, when they had a half a dozen stops on third down. When it's all said and done and you look up at the scoreboard, they scored 23 points. For as wide open as their offense is, that's not a bad number."
For the game, Notre Dame held BYU to 4-of-15 on 3rd down conversions. This is even better than the 31 percent the Irish had been allowing teams throughout the year. One stat does jump out: BYU ran for only 75 yards on 34 attempts, a paltry 2.2 yards per carry. The defensive line had to deal with the wide splits the Cougars use between their offensive linemen. Most teams have two-foot splits. BYU's are more like four-foot splits. Defensive tackle Trevor Laws, who recorded a tackle for loss, said the scheme was to his liking.
"It played pretty well for me," Laws said. "The wide splits were to my advantage. I thought I was a lot quicker than them. They got some big, husky guys. I thought I could run around them and some room to move a little more. I actually liked the splits. I was one-on-one with their guard for the whole game and I felt I could beat him."
The defensive line racked up some solid stats. Derek Landri and Victor Abiamiri had a sack and a half each and Ronald Talley, filling in for the injured Chris Frome, also notched a sack. Abiamiri was pleased with the defensive line's effort.
"I think we kind of settled down," Abiamiri said. "Instead of playing their game, we dictated to them and not play their game. We tried to cut out the run and make them one-dimensional so they would have to pass all game. If you live by the pass, sometimes you die by the pass. Making them one-dimensional was a key coming into the game."
*Quote of the day: "This team plays with more confidence. This team is more efficient. This team is more determined. They execute at a higher level."-BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall on the difference between this Notre Dame team and last year's team that lost to the Cougars 20-17 in Provo, Utah.