Notre Dame Football: Cody Hoffman

Notre Dame prediction: Game 11 vs. BYU

November, 22, 2013
Can Notre Dame make it 4-0 on Senior Day under Brian Kelly?

When BYU has the ball: As you may have heard, the Cougars like to pick up the tempo on offense. They are fourth in the nation in total plays, having run 868 on the season. That's an average of 86.8 per game. By comparison, Notre Dame runs 64.6 plays per game. Taysom Hill is a threat at all times on the field, and likely the most effective dual-threat quarterback the Irish will have faced this year, as he is second among quarterbacks with 956 rushing yards this season. His favorite target, Cody Hoffman, had a nice day last year in South Bend, Ind., catching eight balls for 86 yards and a touchdown.

When Notre Dame has the ball: Who emerges from the backfield this week is anyone's guess, though a nice run game could help keep a depleted defense off the field a bit more against a BYU offense that moves at a rapid pace. Tommy Rees and TJ Jones have been a reliable connection all season long, and look for them to keep that going in their home finales against a good but not great defense. The continued emergence of Ben Koyack in the passing game can help open things up for the rest of the aerial attack, too.

Intangible: This is Senior Day, so the Irish need to guard against the emotions and potential sloppy play in the early going. They also need to rely on a lot of people to chip in defensively, especially with Louis Nix III now out and his backup, Kona Schwenke, at less than 100 percent. BYU knows it was a missed pass away from pulling out an upset against the Irish late last season, and the Cougars are determined to finish the job this time around.

Prediction: BYU 23, Notre Dame 20. I was leaning in the Irish's direction earlier this week, but the loss of Nix -- on top of some of the other guys at less than 100 percent -- is just too much to overcome against this good, and this fast, of a Cougars team.

Players to watch: BYU

July, 22, 2013
Last year's BYU contest was a little close for comfort for Notre Dame fans. What will be in store during the Nov. 23 Senior Day tilt at Notre Dame Stadium?

To read previous entries from this series, click here.

Offense: Cody Hoffman, WR. The Biletnikoff watch lister was part of a miscommunication last year with quarterback Riley Nelson that resulted in a key misfire and eliminated upset hopes for the Cougars in a three-point loss in South Bend, Ind. Hoffman finished that contest with eight catches for 86 yards and a touchdown, and he finished the season with 100 grabs for 1,248 yards and 11 touchdowns. He had four games with at least 10 catches, and he finished with eight 100-yard receiving games. Hoffman's decision to stay for his senior season is one more potential headache for opponents this fall, as the redshirt senior is one of the top returning receivers in the country.

Defense: Kyle Van Noy, LB. Van Noy is another Cougar who changed his team's fall fortunes for the better by deciding to return for his senior season in Provo, Utah. As a junior, he finished with 22 tackles for loss, including 13 sacks, to go with two interceptions, five break-ups, eight passes defended, one fumble recovery, six forced fumbles and two blocked kicks. He returned one of those picks for a 17-yard score in the Poinsettia Bowl win over San Diego State. Van Noy received at least honorable mention honors from most All-America teams last season, and like Hoffman, he returns this fall as one of the best in the nation at his position.

Halloween at Notre Dame

October, 31, 2012
Avoid the traps, noises and every other cliche spouted about your favorite undefeated team. Here are a few treats to hold you over until Notre Dame takes the field again Saturday:

Haunted house: Is it still USC? Notre Dame won its last contest there, and the Trojans dropped another home game last year, with tough test there against Oregon before they host the Irish in the regular-season finale. It's not what it once was, but the Los Angeles Coliseum is all that will likely stand between the Irish and a perfect regular season.

The Exorcist(s): No teams owned Notre Dame coming into this season the way Michigan and Stanford had recently. The Irish then put Denard Robinson through the worst birthday of his life, forcing him into five turnovers in a prime-time win. And three weeks later they bridged the gap with a Cardinal team that had physically manhandled them recently by stopping Stepfan Taylor four times inside the 5-yard line to preserve an overtime victory.

Paranormal activity: Miami's Phillip Dorsett dropped not one but two sure-fire touchdown passes on the opening drive against Notre Dame on Oct. 6 in Chicago. How do you explain that?

Witchcraft: BYU quarterback Riley Nelson's comments following after missing Cody Hoffman late in the fourth quarter of an eventual 17-14 loss at Notre Dame: "That throw will probably haunt me until I die." Irish coach Brian Kelly's remarks after the win made his team 7-0: "You just need to find ways to win. That's who we are. Embrace who you are, is what I'm saying. Our football team, they believe they're going to win. There's no question they believe they're going to win." Tough to find simple logic in all of that.

Jason Voorhees: Suspended from the opener? OK. No preseason reps or starting job? Whatever. Booed by his own classmates? Ha! Put Tommy Rees in at any time, any place. No matter to the junior, who has rescued the Irish three times this season, delivering clutch throws against Purdue, Michigan and Stanford and starting against BYU (and Miami). He's not going anywhere.

Notre Dame prediction: Week 8 vs. BYU

October, 18, 2012
The battle of independent powers takes place Saturday in South Bend. Who emerges victorious?

When BYU has the ball: Quarterback Riley Nelson looks to be fully recovered after missing two games earlier this season with a back injury. He threw for 305 yards to go with one touchdown and three picks last week in a loss to Oregon State, and he connected with the 6-foot-4 Cody Hoffman 10 times for 102 yards. Keep an eye on that duo when the Cougars are on offense, but the question, as always, will be whether Notre Dame's pass rush can disrupt the rhythm. Or, in the case of this week's game, how much it can: BYU has started seven interior offensive linemen so far.

When Notre Dame has the ball: Quarterback Everett Golson (concussion) was cleared to return to practice Wednesday, and he will try to put the turnover bug behind him and build off his strong second half against Stanford. Like last week, he is facing a very strong defense that is looking for a bounce-back performance. The Cougars boast the No. 7 scoring defense in the country, led by linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who has 7.5 sacks through seven games. The Cougars have 22 sacks, and they will look to pressure Golson into mistakes one week after he fumbled it away three times.

Intangible: It's a trap! Or is it? Notre Dame just beat then-No. 17 Stanford. It travels to No. 9 Oklahoma next week. The Cougars come to town in between the two games, with the No. 5 Irish looking to avoid the fates of Florida State, West Virginia and the likes and not lose to an underdog. Fall break was this week too, so the players did not have to worry about classwork, though whether that means they're as locked in throughout the day as usual is for a professional psychologist to determine.

Prediction: Notre Dame 24, BYU 6. Call me a flip-flopper. I circled this one as a loss (one of four I predicted back in the summer, for those keeping track), but I just don't see it happening with the way the Irish have been playing so far.

ND's 2012 opponents, Week 7: BYU

July, 24, 2012
Week 7: Oct. 20 vs. BYU (at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind.)
Time/TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Series: Notre Dame leads all-time, 4-2
2011 record: 10-3
Head coach: Bronco Mendenhall (66-24, seven years)
Returning starters: Offense: 7; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 2

Top returners

QB Riley Nelson, RB Zed Mendenhall, WR Cody Hoffman, TE Austin Holt, LG Braden Hansen, C Houston Reynolds, RT Braden Brown, DE Eathyn Manumaleuna, NT Romney Fuga, LB Uona Kaveinga, LB Brandon Ogletree, LB Kyle Van Noy, CB Preston Hadley, S Daniel Sorensen

Key losses

QB Jake Heaps, RB J.J. Di Luigi, WR McKay Jacobson, LT Matt Reynolds, OL Terence Brown, DT Hebron Fangupo, LB Jordan Pendelton, CB Corby Eason, S Travis Uale

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: J.J. Di Luigi (584 yards)

Passing: Riley Nelson* (1,717 yards)

Receiving: Cody Hoffman* (943 yards)

Tackles: Brandon Ogletree* (76)

Sacks: Kyle Van Noy* (7)

Interceptions: Kyle Van Noy* and Travis Uale (3)

Three questions for ... College football nation blogger Andrea Adelson:

Simply, how good is Riley Nelson?

Andrea Adelson: Truthfully, I think everybody is waiting to find out. Nelson has had a really strange ride at BYU. He was a co-starter in 2010 and then hurt his shoulder, sending him to the sideline for the rest of the year. He was not given a chance to win the starting quarterback job in 2011. But when Jake Heaps struggled, BYU turned to Nelson to spark its season. Now he goes into the year as the unquestioned starter and leader of this team. He does not fit your typical BYU quarterback mold, because he can run with the football. He is not going to sit in the pocket and chuck it. But BYU wants him to try to limit some of his scrambling out of the pocket to focus more on the passing game, especially so he avoids taking so many hits. BYU traditionally does very well with a senior starting quarterback, so I think expectations are high for Nelson to have an outstanding season.

Bronco Mendenhall has been vocal about how good this year's defense can be. What potential holes are there, if any, that Notre Dame will be able to exploit?

AA: I think BYU has a terrific set of linebackers, and I think they are all really underrated. Watch out for Kyle Van Noy, who always seems to make big plays around the ball. He finished second on the team in tackles, right behind another linebacker, Brandon Ogletree. If there is one area of concern, it could be in the secondary, where the team loses Travis Uale and Corby Eason. Both were really solid players for the Cougars. I know Notre Dame likes to throw and spread the ball around, so the Irish may have the chance to exploit this area of the defense.

What's the significance to BYU of the renewed rivalry with Notre Dame, especially now that the Cougars are independent?

AA: It is huge for BYU, which fashions itself as the Notre Dame of the West. I think having Notre Dame on the schedule lends credibility to BYU as it forges its way into independence. Make no mistake, BYU has paid close attention to how Notre Dame has built its brand and gone it alone. Notre Dame was heavily consulted before BYU made the decision to leave the Mountain West. With so few teams willing to put a tough team like the Cougars on the schedule, I think it is huge for the Irish to agree to play them.


'College Football Live' Extra: Biggest Plays
Ed Cunningham and Brock Huard offer up their choices for the most important and season-changing plays of the 2014 college football regular season.


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