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Notre Dame faces new challenge in BYU

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday that the Irish (7-3) will be facing a different BYU (7-3) team at home Saturday than the one they defeated 17-14 last season.

A lot of that has to do with the challenge that Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill presents to defenses, as he leads an offense that averages 86.8 plays per game.

Hill leads BYU in rushing with 956 yards and eight touchdowns, and the 6-foot-2, 221-pound sophomore has thrown for 2,379 yards and 16 touchdowns.

"I thought more than anything else (Hill's) ability to throw the football has really changed their offensive structure," Kelly said. "They struggled to throw the ball last year, throwing it very, very well. Then his big play ability. He is fast. He's a guy that can take a run and turn it into a big play. At the end of the day, I think it just centers around him."

Notre Dame's offense will need to plan for Cougars linebacker Kyle Van Noy.

The 6-3, 245-pound senior is second on the team in tackles with 56, and he leads BYU with 15 tackles for loss and four sacks. Van Noy also has two interceptions, seven breakups and 13 quarterback hurries.

"He's very versatile," Kelly said. "He can drop into coverage. He can come off the edge.… We will have to know where he is at all times."

Notre Dame did not practice during its bye last week, and the Irish began practicing again Monday, Kelly said.

Kelly did not rule out any players who were injured from Saturday's home finale.

"I think the week off proved to be effective for us," Kelly said. "We're like everybody else in college football right now. We've got guys that are fighting through it."

The Journal Gazette's Assistant Sports Editor Tony Krausz covers The University of Notre Dame. Krausz, a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a native of St. Louis, has been assistant sports editor since October 2005. Prior to joining the JG, he worked at two papers in Mississippi covering high school and college athletics.