Here are BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall's postgame comments after the Cougars lost 23-13 to Notre Dame on Saturday in front of 80,795 fans at Notre Dame Stadium.:
"First of all, Notre Dame is a first-class program and facility, same with coach [Brian] Kelly. It’s a great place to play and a good football team. It was a good football game. A few opportunities that we didn’t make, and a few that Notre Dame did make. Notre Dame earned the win.
I thought there were some courageous efforts on our part, and early in the game Rob Daniel, our field corner, was ill. All kinds of IVs were pumped into him. He wasn’t expected to play. And then found a way to play for all but the first three or four series of the game. It made a huge difference in us being able to play the pass more effectively.
Disappointed with that blocked field goal at the end. Was hoping to get the ball back one more time at the end and bring it right down to the wire. But give Notre Dame credited for blocking the kick."
On Notre Dame’s running game:
"I would says their running backs are very physical, tough to tackle. I also thought their offensive line was physical and tough. And that played out the way we thought.
I think that gave Notre Dame the ability to control the game. But when it came down to a manageable number of points to win the game, 23 we thought would keep us right in it, which it did."
On why they missed so many tackles:
"I think it wasn’t necessarily what Kyle wasn’t doing, it was what Notre Dame was doing, running really hard, running really physical. Maybe the next caliber up of a football team.
So what they do, they do well. So I think I will credit Notre Dame, rather than what our players didn’t do."
On BYU’s running game:
"I think on the bright side, I was really impressed with Paul Lasike. When he came in, I thought we were physical, I thought we ran downhill. I thought he gave us a physical presence that was matching what Notre Dame was doing. And that was a real positive.
I think they did a nice job on Jamaal, especially on inside runs. They did a nice job on Taysom on our designed runs. Taysom did a good job on quarterback scrambles that weren’t designed.
So the effectiveness of our running came with Lasike, with Taysom scrambling."
On JD Falslev:
"JD is committed to our program. He always has been. He plays really hard and really tough. And it was a nice surprise when I was told at the beginning of the week that he would be able to make it back for this game. He made a few clutch catches, kept a few drives alive. He is just a really good player."
On getting stopped in the red zone:
"Maybe not so much of what they were doing. It is just what happens at that part of the field. The run game was working effectively to get us down there. The safeties are now closer and so the run game is much more difficult to get the yardage we were getting. I think that is really what happened. So more specific to where we were, rather than what Notre Dame was doing.
On the slant, No. 13 for Notre Dame knocked it down. We had the guy beat inside. That was a huge play. I thought we had a touchdown there. They made those plays, and we didn’t."
On the secondary being depleted so much:
"Right before the pregame meeting, Rob Daniel became very, very ill. He received not only medical care, but ecclesiastical care before the game.
Man, it didn’t look like there was a chance he might play.
We used different combinations in the secondary the first few series, and realized that wasn’t going to be effective. A third scenario we put together in the secondary we put in for the remainder of the game, I think there was only 10 points scored against that.
Michael Davis, a converted wide receiver playing as a field corner came in, and Rob Daniel came in and those two, they gave us a lot better chance to play in the secondary."
On Craig Bills’ play:
"Craig is tough as well as Daniel Sorensen. Safeties weren’t our issue. In fact, we were considering at one point putting putting Daniel Sorensen in at corner if Rob wasn’t able to do it. So we were looking at a number of different scenarios. And again, all that happened right before we got on the buss. We did the best adjustments we could through the first two or three series, and then finally found one that worked. But Craig and Daniel were a consistent part of that."
On whether the weather was a factor:
"No, I don’t think it did. Notre Dame called and ran plays that they had run and we saw and I think we did the same. So I don’t think it was a factor."
On how BYU fared in the trenches:
"I think we gained momentum as the game went on. And I think the point production the second half showed that. I think the numbers in the game show that. So it felt different, but it still hurts, and I am still disappointed. I was really hopeful and believed we had a great chance to win the game coming out here, and even after playing.
However, Notre Dame earned the win. And they deserved the credit for that. It was a physical game, but I didn’t believe sense it was fatigue playing a part of that."
On whether he was surprised Notre Dame rushed 100 yards over its average:
"There were a number of plays that were big gainers, probably three. And so when you have big plays against you, it doesn’t take long before averages start to change.
After those big plays, then I thought we played pretty effectively in the blue zone because ultimately what wins or loses games is not rushing yards, it is points. And 23, you had a great chance to win the game if you’re around 21, 22, 23 points [given up], and that’s where it was.
Again, congratulations to coach Kelly and Notre Dame."
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