In a 23-13 loss to Notre Dame last season, BYU managed just 168 passing yards as Taysom Hill went 21 of 36 with one interception. The Cougars put up 415 total yards — to ND’s 470 — in a brutal, windy, frigid game in South Bend.
The year prior, the Cougars passed for just 177 yards and gained just 243 in a 17-14 loss to the Irish.
Why are those games important to remember right now, as BYU heads East to face UConn on Friday (5 p.m. MDT, ESPN) at Rentschler Field?
Because new UConn coach Bob Diaco was Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator in both games, and the man largely responsible for holding the BYU offense under 20 points. He also had a little help in the 2012 game from a linebacker named Manti Te’o.
Diaco appeared on the AAC coaches teleconference Monday, and I asked him for his recollections of those games.
"What I recall from those matchups is that they were absolutely bitter, dogfight, tough, hard-nosed games to the very, very end. BYU has got a massive amount of fight and scrap, and they play with great effort," Diaco said. "They are a very sound, really well-coached football team. And they are going to be coming in here for four full quarters, every play, no matter what. They are situationally alert, and they have a lot of talented players back from a year ago."
Diaco wouldn’t bite when I asked him about going from a program at Notre Dame which has reasonable access to the College Football Playoff to a program such as UConn that, like BYU, probably will never get into the postseason competition as long as it is just a four-horse affair.
But he was generally effusive in his praise of BYU and said he has been telling his players since he got the job in late 2013 that they are in for quite a scrap.
"We expect a national-branded BYU team that over the last 20 or 30 years, you would be hard pressed to find a better organization or university in the country.
Not many have had more college football success than BYU, so we are expecting to see that caliber of football team at the Ren on [Friday] night," he said.
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