To close out the home portion of the 2021 Notre Dame football schedule, the Fighting Irish will welcome the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on November 21. The Irish have only faced the Yellow Jackets twice in the Brian Kelly era, picking up victories each time, but hold a commanding 29-6-1 advantage in this series that dates back nearly a century, with the first matchup coming in 1922.
Tech head coach Geoff Collins is in his third season with the Yellow Jackets and has yet to deliver a breakthrough campaign, compiling a 6-16 over that span. Part of those struggles are connected to Collins moving from a triple-option offense to a pro-style setup that emphasizes the spread offense. Tech fans are hoping that things will finally start to click this season or the heat figures to get turned up on Collins.
Georgia Tech Offense: Aiming for a Higher Gear
With one bumpy year under his belt, quarterback Jeff Sims is seeking to take some major strides this year, using both his arm and legs to lead Tech. How he performs may offer fans a window into how well the Yellow Jackets are doing, considering his high-profile presence when it comes to both the running and passing attacks.
Running back Jahmyr Gibbs finished 2020 with 460 yards rushing, 24 receptions and scored a total of seven touchdowns. Those numbers need to grow, though Gibbs will likely be joined in the backfield by Jordan Mason, who managed to gain 352 yards on the ground while dealing with injuries that limited him to six games. Dontae Smith gives Tech an explosive runner, but if this trio ends up coming up short, the Yellow Jackets offense could end in a wreck.
Malachi Carter will be a key part of the trio that gets the starting nod and will look to make up for the absence of NFL draftee Jalen Camp. Carter will be joined by Northwestern graduate transfer Kyric McGowan, who brings versatility to the slot position, while Adonicas Sanders rounds out the trio after 17 catches in 2020.
The right side of the Tech offensive line is set with tackle Jordan Williams and guard Ryan Johnson, while the size (6-foot-7, 315 pounds) of Vanderbilt graduate transfer Devin Cochran will help at left tackle. The starters at the center and left guard positions are less definitive, though Mikey Minihan and Austin Smith, respectively, appear to be the favorites. A reduction of penalties is badly needed after an eye-opening 28 false starts were called on the Yellow Jackets last year.
Georgia Tech Defense: Trying to Step Up Their Game
The interior line for the Yellow Jackets should be solid. That’s because Ja’Quon Griffin knows how to get into opposing backfields and will be joined by Djimon Brooks and South Carolina transfer Makius Scott. End play will be handled by Antonneus Clayton and Jordan Domineck, the latter of whom led the team in sacks and also had 8.5 tackles-for-loss. Another end, Keion White, is a transfer from Old Dominion who hopes to move seamlessly from his previous tight end slot.
Quez Jackson will man one of the inside linebacker spots in the 4-2-5 defense, bringing good hands and a hard-hitting style. He should be joined in the starting lineup by Maryland transfer Ayinde Eley, who has a football background that includes his father, the head coach for Alabama State.
The secondary needs to bounce back from a tough campaign in 2020. On the corners, Tre Swilling is joined by Zamari Walton, who did have a rare big play in their game against the Irish, returning a fumble 93 yards for a score. Tariq Carpenter will handle the strong safety spot, while Juanyeh Thomas is pegged for the free safety role. By the time that Tech comes to Notre Dame, the hope for the Yellow Jackets is that the turnovers forced by this unit will have seen an increase.
Georgia Tech Special Teams: Holes to Be Filled
A gaping hole needs to be fixed with punter Pressley Hunter’s departure. He capped his outstanding career at Tech with a spot on the All-America team, with Austin Kent expected to replace him. Tech’s new kicker, who will handle both kickoffs and scoring opportunities will be Tennessee transfer Brent Cimaglia.
The Last Time Notre Dame Played Georgia Tech
That contest took place only last year, when the Irish defeated the Yellow Jackets, 31-13, on Halloween. Notre Dame largely had the game under control for much of the time, though a second-quarter effort to double their 7-0 lead fell apart on a fumble that was returned 93 yards for a tying score. Notre Dame kept its composure and ran off 24 unanswered points before a meaningless fourth-quarter tally by Tech closed out the scoring.