7 Georgia Tech punts.
24 Georgia Tech passes.
2 3-and-outs inflicted by ND defense to start the game.
The Notre Dame defense manhandled the vaunted Ramblin’ Wreck offense and keyed the Fighting Irish verdict of 30-22 over the unbeaten Yellow Jackets. Notre Dame now has a four game winning streak, and is the only team in the country with four consecutive wins over Power Five teams: LSU , Texas, Virginia and Georgia Tech.
Notre Dame’s defensive heroes were many. Bob Elliott was the architect, Brian Van Gorder the Engineer (engineering the Engineers’ demise), Gilmore Elston and Lyght were the on-site managers. The players were magnificent, maintaining lane discipline, assignment discipline, eye discipline and sure tackling. Jaylon Smith provided the electricity. Future opponents should be terrified by this: It is conceivable that Jaylon Smith is Notre Dame’s most improved defensive player. Notre Dame used its athleticism and its athletes on defense, with Schmidt, Martini, Smith and Shumate as the four leading tacklers.
NOTRE DAME’S FIRST STRING QUARTERBACK
Deshone Kizer was big enough for the moment. He was prepared to do more than just “manage the game. ” The Kelly/Denbrock/Sanford troika refused to let Deshone and the offense hide behind the running game, and were prepared to win the game had it turned into a shootout.
Kizer has a live arm, can make all the throws and his height helps him see much. He seems to play with less angst than his two predecessors. His interception was the first Notre Dame turnover of 2015 but it was understandable if not forgiveable.
Kizer was choppy, but he has a HUGE upside.
NOTRE DAME’S OFFENSIVE LINE
Despite Ronnie Stanley’ recidivist brain cramps resulting in false starts, Harry’s Hammers dominated for the third week in a row, achieving over 200 yards rushing for the third week in a row, against credible, if not outstanding, defenses.
Prosise illustrated that his intelligence matches his strength and speed when he noted that the offensive line was allowing him to get to the third level untouched.
DID CHRIS BROWN ARRIVE YESTERDAY?
Brown had assumed a Godot-like aura in that his “arrival” had been awaited for the last three years, Fall and Spring. 8 catches for 65 yards may be assurance that Kizer can find more options than the remarkable touchdown machine, Will Fuller.
NEWCOMERS OF THE MATCH
Jerry Tillery – While it may have been the matchup, he got the start and might have passed the very able Daniel Cage. An athlete who happens to be big enough to play either defensive tackle spot, his future is bright.
Alize Jones – sure, he had the fumble, but he can play anywhere, get open and he knows, even as a callow frosh, how to go get the ball. Check back in November to see if he’s still making progress.
TIGHT END UNIVERSITY, DU LAC
Well, sometimes nicknames are accurate. Luatua, a brutish blocker started, and both Weishar and Jones drew first blood as receivers. As Kizer’s repertoire expands, Weishar and Jones will make a lot more catches.
THE SCHEDULE GIVETH, THE SCHEDULE TAKETH AWAY
Despite the annual caterwauling about Navy, the seeds of beating Georgia Tech were sown on the practice fields and game turf of playing Navy. And Georgia Tech’s preparation and execution will yield dividends when Navy comes a callin’ on the 10th of October.
CAN WE PLAY PASS DEFENSE?
Against Clemson and USC, the bookends of the October gauntlet, our pass defense will be tested by quarterbacks superior to Matt Johns and receivers superior to Canaan Severin.
Like an Indiana Jones movie, one hazard conquered only means one our Irish must move on to a different challenge.
We will need more coverage specialists than Cole Luke and Keivarae Russell, who just may have scraped the last of his barnacles off yesterday.
Keith Gilmore has been livin’ on a prayer, playing just 6 defensive linemen. Clemson and USC will hurry up, run a lot of plays and wear out our first stringers. Gilmore needs to start deploying his defensive line depth right away. It is not about whether the first stringers are better, it is about giving them help and rest.
CAN OUR OFFENSE IMPROVE?
Josh Adams and Dexter Williams need to be able to take snaps in the second half of the season, both to rest Prosise and to save his energy to function as a pass receiver. C.J. has started making big plays as a running back. He has big plays as a pass receiver in him, provided he has the energy.
Robinson was on the brink of stardom last year. With Kizer now comfortable with Fuller and Brown, there is time to increase his sympatico with Robinson, Hunter and perhaps Carlisle and St. Brown. It’s a long season, and guys like MacKenzie Alexander of Clemson and Adoree Jackson of USC are future pros who may, for the first time, be able to make Fuller less than automatic.
What will we see against UMASS?
- The Minutemen may last a minute in the game.
- Notre Dame’s biggest challenge is to have the first string on both sides play with such dominance that the second and third stringers get many reps.
- Brandon Wimbush needs some reps and he needs to throw, regardless of the score. Some will be critical if Wimbush is passing in the late third and fourth quarters. But Kelly must prepare his backup quarterback.
- UMASS has been D-1 (we eschew the repugnant “FBS” nomenclature) since 2012. They have not beaten a Power Five Team. Their record since joining D-1 is 5-33. The wins have been over Akron, Miami (OH) (before Chuck Martin got there), Kent State Eastern Michigan and Ball State.
- Kizer needs to continue to throw to receivers other than Fuller and Brown.
- Gilmore promised to use a lot of Defensive Linemen, but avoided that against Virginia. Clemson and SC both like to hurry up and run a lot of plays. You play a lot of defensive linemen against them or you get crushed in the fourth quarter.
- UMASS’ two greatest athletes are Julius Erving and Marcus Camby. They played Naismith’s game, not football.
- The end of an era. With the Saturday tilt against UMASS Notre Dame will end September without having played a current member of the Big 10 (which is really comprised of 14 teams) since 1962, under Kuharich, though the Irish did play four Big Ten opponents in October of that year.