Notre Dame looks to continue its winning ways tomorrow with their road trip to Atlanta to take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The Irish enter the game as nearly three-touchdown favorites in their second road game of the season and second in as many weeks. Tech is the last obstacle on Notre Dame’s collision course with Clemson – a path that got more complicated this week. Will the mounting distractions get in Notre Dame’s way, or will the Irish take care of business?
What Worries Me This Week
The Clemson distraction. I was not worried about the distraction of Clemson until the news broke yesterday of Trevor Lawrence’s COVID-19 diagnosis. Until then, I loved that Brian Kelly was candid and honest that his team has been looking ahead to Clemson this season. The success of this season hinges on how Notre Dame plays against the Tigers next week, so why not embrace it.
Well, that approach was complicated a bit this week with the news about Lawrence since everyone is talking about when he’ll return and if he’ll be available for the Notre Dame game next weekend. Now there’s another layer of distraction that didn’t exist earlier this week.
Facing a mobile quarterback. Mobile quarterbacks can always be an x-factor, and Jeff Simms poses that threat this weekend. We saw Clark Lea look downright human against Florida State a few weeks ago with freshman QB Jordan Travis running for 96 on 19 carries. The Irish were never seriously threatened even after the Seminoles took a brief lead, but if Tech has any chance tomorrow, it’s if Simms has a huge game.
What Doesn’t Worry Me This Week
Notre Dame building on last week’s passing success. The Irish passing attack wasn’t perfect last weekend, but it was improved. Ian Book had three touchdown passes and found a new connection with Bennett Skowronek. Even with injuries in the wide receiving corps, I expect Book and Tommy Rees to build on that performance and look even sharper this week against a much, much weaker defense.
Georgia Tech is giving up over 40 points a game. Notre Dame should be able to easily reach that mark before calling off the dogs as well.
Kyren Williams getting back on track. Notre Dame’s running game had great success on 3rd and short last weekend but not much success on first and second down runs. Kyren Williams was held mostly in check by the Pitt defense. The Yellow Jacket defense will not be able to do the same. Williams could have over 100 yards by half-time in this one, similar to his performance against Florida State.
Players I’m Watching This Week
- Jordan Johnson – Ian Book hinted earlier this week that freshman Jordan Johnson was elevated to the varsity this week from the scout team.
- Tommy Tremble – Kelly said that Tremble has been a bit banged up. Still waiting for him to have a breakout performance this year. Maybe a return to his home state will facilitate that.
- Kyle Hamilton – No one can pass on Kyle Hamilton this year, but we haven’t seen him create turnovers like we saw him do in 2019.
- Chris Tyree – He’s been held in check the last two weeks since his breakout against Florida State. The Tech defense might be what the doctor ordered to get the frosh going again.
- Dealin Hayes – He’s been quiet so far this year. Feels like he has a breakout coming soon.
- Bennett Skowronek – We saw him make big plays last week. Now I’m looking for him to make the chain-moving type plays he had a reputation for.
- Avery Davis/Lawrence Keys – Interested to see how playing time at the slot position breakdowns tomorrow with Keys back after multiple setbacks this season.
- TaRiq Bracy – He is going to be needed big time next week. After missing last week, he needs tomorrow for practice.
On paper, Notre Dame should win this game in a blowout. There are many distractions for this team right now, but going on the road might be a blessing this week. I would be more worried if this were a home game. That said, I am optimistic about Notre Dame taking care of business easily this week because Georgia Tech is just not a very good football right now.
Notre Dame 42, Georgia Tech 17