Key Matchups: Notre Dame Offense Could Thrive Against Weak Georgia Tech Defense

Irish Running Game Rolling. Irish Defense Looks to Keep Delivering the Pressure

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish currently have a 9-1 record and now stand just one win away from their fifth consecutive double-digit victory campaign. They’re back home against a Georgia Tech team they should beat, thanks to a running game that’s streaking toward the end of the regular season and a defense that hasn’t allowed a touchdown in either of the last two games.

As a hefty underdog, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets face a massive obstacle to try and improve on their current 3-7 record. Tech head coach Geoff Collins is in his third season with the Yellow Jackets but has a 9-23 mark during his tenure. The chief problem has been a porous defense that’s allowed nearly 38 points per game in their last six contests.

Below are some of the major matchups to follow on Saturday:

QB Jack Coan vs. Georgia Tech Defense

Coan completed 75 percent of his 20 pass attempts against Virginia while only throwing for 132 yards. He still ended up with three touchdowns passes and had the luxury of the prolific running attack. He could have a field day in this contest though the Notre Dame coaches may again choose to take advantage of the resurgent ground game.

The easiest explanation as to why Georgia Tech has been giving up so many points over the past six games is that their opponents are averaging 544 yards of total offense during that stretch. One of this unit’s flaws is in the inability to make the big play. That’s especially evident from their pass defense that’s managed a total of just three interceptions on 289 opposing pass attempts.

Notre Dame Defense vs. QB Jordan Yates/Jeff Sims

Despite missing three starters, Notre Dame defenders got the job done against Virginia, due in part to a strong pass rush that picked up seven sacks. In their last two contests, the Irish have given up their fewest yards of the season and have been especially dominant against the run, allowing just 2.9 yards per carry.

Yates would be making his fifth start of the season in his game, though the status of Jeff Sims’ health could elevate him back to the starting role. Sims is more of a running threat and has been the more productive signal-caller, but was injured in the season opener and has had trouble staying healthy since that time.

WR Kevin Austin vs. CB Tre Swilling

Austin has become the chief wide receiving target of Coan by virtue of the Avery Davis injury. He’s scored in each of the last three contests and has at least three catches per game during Notre Dame’s five-game winning streak. Has the capability to go deep, as he showed late in the first half against Navy.

Swilling is the son of former NFL star Pat Swilling and has the size to handle himself in the secondary. He’s tied for the team lead in pass deflections this season with four and can deliver hard hits. Tech’s lack of a pass rush could make things more difficult for Swilling and the rest of their secondary if the Irish choose to put the ball in the air.

LB Drew White/J.D. Bertrand vs. RB Jahmir Gibbs

White missed the Virginia game with a bout of the flu but should be ready to go against Georgia Tech. He was already dealing with injuries but is enough of a competitor to keep the Notre Dame defense thriving. Bertrand has delivered better numbers this year and has been a workhorse all season. Between the two, they should be able to help keep Gibbs in check.

Gibbs leads the Yellow Jackets with 687 rushing yards and is also a receiving threat with 34 catches on the year. He’s in his second season at Tech and has the speed to break off a long run. White and Bertrand will look to contain Gibbs’ slashing style of running that could make it hard to bring him down.

RB Kyren Williams vs. LB Quez Jackson

Williams’s first five games saw him rush for 289 yards and three touchdowns. In his last five contests, he’s more than doubled that with 583 yards and seven scores. He showed off some impressive moves against Virginia and picked up a pair of key first downs early in the game. Against another weak defense, he has the potential for a huge afternoon.

Jackson is Tech’s leading tackler and should go over the triple-digit mark in that category against the Irish. He’s got 96 tackles on the year, including six stops behind the line. His hard-hitting style has forced one fumble and he’s recovered a pair of opposing miscues. An experienced player who’s put up better numbers every season with the Yellow Jackets.

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  1. I was at the Rudy game, high in Secrion 25. I heard no chanting, and would not have known who he was. He was onside, and I could see had a straight shot at the QB, and nobody came over
    So the game was over and we went home…knowing only that some walk on got a sack.

    BGC. 77. 82

  2. Getting trounced 35-6, Duke gets the ball on its own 25 yard line with 1:15 left in the half and 2 timeouts…..
    Turns it into 3 points before the half.

    They’re 3-7, and the season is a total loss.
    But at least they aren’t coached by Brian Kelly.

  3. Just watched Phil Jucovek v Ga Tech. Would take him over Coan any day. Another feather in BK’s cap.
    PS, GT gave up 41 to Phil, if Jack takes 90% of snaps, I don’t see him responsible for more than 30 this week. Phil ran for 2 TD’s. Only time Jack runs is to throw it OOB. Let’s go D. We’re gonna need you this week…again.

    1. In fairness, ask yourself this: Given that Kelly drove Jurko off, and that such a thing is hardly an “odd, one-off” occurrence under Kelly’s tenure, I’m squarely in the “thank goodenss for Jack Coan” camp.
      Disregarding all other qualities, just his calm, cool demeanor and game experience in the early “QB whackamole” games was critical, IMO.
      But for the weak schedule, this could VERY easily have been another 2016 season staring Kelly in his fat face.

      Yes, Pyne and Buchner will go into next season with less game experience than they would have gotten.
      But being immediately thrown to the lions, getting pulverized, and then being screamed at, is hardly the best way to start a college football career.

      1. Excellent points per usual, “david”.

        Coan has found his way. He’s not great but he’s good enough with a good line and RBs to win a lot of games. Given how the line struggled early on, so, too, did Coan and the other QBs. As the line has stabilized, albeit at not an elite level, so has Coan’s play.

        Would I rather have PJ? Sure. But as “david” points out that’s just not realistic under BK. So thank God for jack Coan!

      2. Kelly did NOT drive Jurkovec out. He left because he wanted to start in 2020 and wouldn’t have over the winningest quarterback in the history of Notre Dame football.

      3. No….Kelly did not “drive him out”.
        In its literal sense, that does not happen, as you well know.
        It is just a glib term fans use when a highly talented player leaves a program due to disillusionment with coaching choices and decisions. You know that, too.

        And you know why Jurko was so disillusioned about the decision Kelly made not to start him at ND, Frank?
        Sure you do. It’s because he was the better QB.

        So come on, Frank. Thicken up that skin of yours, give the pom poms a rest, and insert some objectivity into the work.

  4. Hopefully, Senior Day will lead to a quick focused start and not distractions.
    ND needs to take advantage of another poor D’ opponent again this week.
    Score early and often to get those Senior backups and walk-ons some time.
    I remember this walk-on from years past vs. Ga. Tech getting some notoriety later, from Chicago area. The student body chanted for him; I was there that day but couldn’t make out the chant.
    He then sprinted out onto the field.
    Years later, they made a movie about his moment, and he wasn’t offsides!

      1. Joe said it was done sarcastically by pranksters on the team.
        Look I love the movie but pretty sure Montana would know.

      2. Since when does an accloyte of the Orange Puss Ball care for “truth” ?

        Seems a real Apostle of the Republic of Griftostan would be more of a “Rudy caught 4 of his own TD passes, and ran for 3 more, to save the game” .

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