Irish Playing Their Game

At the end of Notre Dame's 49-23 win over BYU it looked like the Irish found a new way to beat an opponent. But if you look a little deeper, you'll see that the Irish used the same formula they have used all year.

For much of the day Charlie Weis attacked the BYU defense much they way he had promised to do to every opponent – take what they give. Brady Quinn, Maurice Stovall and Jeff Samardzija took, took, and took some more on a record-setting day for Quinn, Samardzija and Stovall. While all of this was going on, and the fans and media have grasped onto the way the Irish attacked BYU's "3-3-5" defense, this Notre Dame team did what they have done all year long. They overcame mistakes that left the offense a sizeable chunk of yardage to convert a first down that resulted in touchdowns. The offense continued to convert a high percentage of their third downs (54.5 percent), while the defense made it difficult for the Cougars to convert it's third down (30.8 percent) chances. The Irish defensive line continued to elevate its production by combining for 31 tackles and four sacks. The result of all this is that Charlie Weis was able to give his starters some rest and his second team players ample playing time for the fourth time this season.

Overcoming Mistakes: The confidence of this Notre Dame offense is evident beyond the yardage totals and the points. The confidence shows in their ability to overcome their own mistakes. On their second touchdown drive they overcame three penalties, an illegal procedure, a false start and an intentional grounding (second-and-21) to eventually take a 14-10 lead. On their third touchdown drive the offense made up for a personal foul (second-and-15) to make the score 21-10. On their fifth touchdown drive, a false start put the offense in first and 15. The final touchdown drive by the offense was slowed by a rushing attempt that lost three yards, which put the Irish in a second and 13.

Third-down conversion: A valuable measure of a teams success or lack of success is their ability to convert third-down situations. Last season the Notre Dame offense converted just 37 percent of their third down opportunities. Yesterday the Irish offense converted six-of-eleven (54.5 percent) third-down chances. On the season the Irish offense is converting an amazing 48.6 percent of their third-downs (No. 9 nationally). The Irish defense is also doing their part as they only allowed BYU to convert four-of-thirteen (30.8 percent) third-downs chances. On the season the Irish defense has only allowed their opponents to convert 30.5 percent on third-down (No. 19 nationally). In 2004 the Irish defense allowed their opponents to convert 37 percent of their third-down opportunities.

Defensive line is making plays: You won't find many defenses that have their front four leading the way in the tackling stats, but in the last two games the Irish front is finding their season tackling stats on the rise. Against BYU, Trevor Laws had nine (three vs. USC), Derek Landri seven (seven vs. USC), Ronald Talley seven (four vs. USC) and Victor Abiamiri added four ( three vs. USC).

Playing the twos: When Tommy Zbikowski returned a John Beck pass 83 yards for a touchdown, it made the score 49-23 with 9:24 remaining. For the fourth time in seven games, Notre Dame has had a comfortable lead with a considerable amount of time remaining in the game. This has allowed Charlie Weis the opportunity to give his second and third team players valuable playing experience. This game experience might not pay dividends this season, but it will in the future as the Irish continued to provide it's reserves quality playing opportunities. Top Stories