#4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Game Preview

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Did you know Georgia Tech once won a game 222-0? They were up 126-0 at halftime, and their coach decided they needed to score 96 more points — he was a jerk. That man’s name? John Heisman. 

Yes, that Heisman. Did you know that the most prestigious college football award given for “outstanding performance which best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity” is named after a guy who was a backup offensive lineman and was notorious for running up the score on opponents? His 1918 Georgia Tech football team lost one game and eclipsed 100 points three different times. They outscored opponents 466-32.

Game Information

Location: Bobby Dodd Stadium | Atlanta, GA, Saturday, October 31, 2020

rudy

Time: 3:30 PM EST, TV: ABC

Historical Information: Notre Dame leads the series 28-6-1  Last Meeting (2015) Notre Dame 30, Ga Tech 22

The “Rudy” Game: ICYMI FS1 aired “Rudy” on Monday night, and the Chicago Bears did their part to make sure MNF, which directly competed with the broadcast, was not worth watching. To see the video clip of the Rudy play, with Don Criqui’s radio call go here

Pandemic Football: The last time ND played during a serious worldwide pandemic, it was 1918, and the Spanish Flu hit the South Bend region very hard. It was also Knute Rockne’s first season, go here for more on that.

Getting back to 1918 Ga Tech, their only loss that year came to Pittsburgh in a 32-0 shutout. It was the end of Tech’s 33-game winning streak. The coach of that Pittsburgh team? Pop Warner. Yes, that Pop Warner. That’s probably the most exciting thing to know about Saturday’s game. Store it away for the next round of Trivial Pursuit.

The Yellow Jackets are 2-4 after going 3-9 in 2019. Off to a better start, indeed, but an inferior opponent nonetheless. Recently, the pendulum has swung the other way on Johnny Heisman’s old team. In their last two games against Clemson and Boston College, they were outscored 121-34. 

The Georgia Tech defense is allowing 41.2 points per game and 479.2 yards of total offense. John Heisman once said, “When you find your opponent’s weak spot, hammer it.” This week, Notre Dame should heed Heisman’s advice, let the engine power up and prime itself, step on the gas, push the lever forward, and start the boat race. 

Georgia Tech Defense 

Did you know the average admitted GPA of first-year students at Georgia Tech is 3.95/4.00? They’re pretty smart kids.  Did you also know that the Georgia Tech defense is surrendering 524 yards per game and 6.5 touchdowns in their four losses? 

There have also been two Nobel laureate award winners to have graduated from Georgia Tech.

will-fuller

One was the 39th president of the United States, Jimmy Carter, and the other was Kary Mullins, a biochemist. He developed the Polymerase chain reaction, a central technique in biochemistry and molecular biology, which allows the amplification of specified DNA sequences. 

Georgia Tech will wear special jerseys to honor their “Black Watch” defense from 1984 and 1985. The team will wear black jerseys, gold helmets, and gold pants.

The helmets will include a black interlocking GT logo and black stripe, reserved for members of the Black Watch defense in 1984-1985.

As a unit, the Black Watch defense led the Atlantic Coast Conference in total defense in 1984 and led the conference in scoring defense in 1984 and 1985. Georgia Tech hasn’t led the ACC in either category since. But did you know that Georgia Tech has sent 14 astronauts into space, which is tied for second-most among public universities? 

Is it worth mentioning players to watch on defense? None of these guys will be going to space or winning the Nobel Prize, but they might end up in the NFL, so why not? 

LB – David Curry: 6’2, 230 lbs. The son of Buddy Curry, who was an All-American at the University of North Carolina before becoming an All-Pro linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons, David came to Georgia Tech as a 6’1, 190 lb safety.

Curry led the team in tackles last year with 97. He’s got 40 tackles through six games putting him on pace for 80 tackles this year.  

Yellow Jackets mascot

CB – Tre Swilling: 6’0, 205 lbs. The son of Pat Swilling (1/4 of the famous New Orleans Saints “Dome Patrol”), College Hall of Famer; an All-American defensive lineman at Georgia Tech and a member of the Black Watch defense. The elder swilling was a two-time All-Pro, five-time Pro Bowler, and Defensive Player of the year in 1991. 

Tre looks like a modern-day NFL cornerback. He’s tall, has long arms, is comfortable in press-man coverage, has excellent feet and fluid hips. He’s more quick than fast, and he’s not a ball hawk (2 career interceptions in three years). 

georgia tech cheerleader

FS – Juanyeh Thomas: 6’3, 220 lbs. While he doesn’t have an NFL pedigree, Thomas is a big safety that racked up 60 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and one interception in 2019. He also has phenomenal speed for his size; in 2018, Thomas became the first freshman in Georgia Tech history to return a kickoff for a touchdown, including a 100-yard return against Georgia. 

SS – Tariq Carpenter: 6’2, 226 lbs. Carpenter also lacks the NFL family tree, but in 2018 he started all 13 games at strong safety. He tallied 55 tackles (fourth-most on the team) and two interceptions. Carpenter followed up 2018 with 62 tackles, one forced fumble, and one interception. He’s not very fast, but he’s got great technique and doesn’t get beat often. 

georgia tech buzz

Georgia Tech Offense 

Geoff Collins took over the Georgia Tech offense in 2019 and brought the Yellow Jackets into the 21st century by abandoning the triple option. 

To revamp the triple option is no small task. The types of players required for the triple option are not the same players required for a conventional offense. The triple option doesn’t use slot receivers or tight ends. Wide receivers are required to block on most plays, and quarterbacks will run more than they pass. 

 

So with two recruiting classes under his belt, Collins has been tasked with determining where existing players will fit in his new offense. In 2019, he inherited 13 running backs and zero tight ends. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was complimentary of the job Collins has done in a short time at Georgia Tech.

In this week’s press conference, he said:

“[Geoff] Collins has done a great job of transforming a triple-option team into a pro-style offense in a brief period. He’s got some of the bigger offensive linemen that we’ve seen, and we’ve thought we had the big offensive linemen…he’s recruited very, very well…it should be a great football game.”

The transition has taken hold in Atlanta. For the first time since 2006, the Yellow Jackets passing offense is outgaining the rushing attack. Georgia Tech is averaging 215.7 yards passing per game and 180.7 yards rushing. Freshman quarterback Jeff Sims leads the Yellow Jackets with eight touchdowns passing and ten interceptions.

The true freshman was ranked the No. 10 dual-threat quarterback in the country and was initially committed to Florida State. 

Former starting quarterback Tobias Oliver was moved to cornerback, opening the door for Sims, who beat Tucker Gleason, James Graham, and Jordan Yates for the number one spot on the depth chart. 

Sims is still incredibly raw as a quarterback. His technique is not consistent – he will struggle to set his feet, throw the ball from strange angles, and make mistakes and turn the ball over, but he’s good at improvising, is a great RPO quarterback, and will make one or two throws a game that won’t cause temporomandibular joint disorder but will cause the jaw to hang open. 

As for those big offensive lineman Brian Kelly mentioned? 6’6, 310 lbs, Ryan Johnson (transfer from Tennessee), Devin Cochran 6’7, 320 lbs, (transfer from Vanderbilt), and Jack DeFoor 6’5, 305 lbs are those guys. They’re allowing 1.67 sacks per game, slightly better than Notre Dame (2.00 sacks per game). 

In the new passing attack for Georgia Tech, look for wide receiver Jalen Camp to make a splash. Camp is returning from season-ending surgery in 2019 that limited him to four games. He’s a big strong receiver at 6’2, 220 lbs. In 2020, he’s got 17 receptions for 226 yards and two touchdowns. 

Last, and now strangely, least, the Georgia Tech running backs. 

Former starting running back Jordan Mason appears to have fallen down the depth chart after suffering a foot injury in the off-season. After rushing for 1,558 yards and 14 touchdowns on 280 carries in 2018 and 2019, he’s only had 20 carries this year. 

The number one running back on the depth chart has been freshman Jahmyr Gibbs who has rushed for 308 yards and two touchdowns, making the most of his Wally Pipp moment.

Irish Keys to the Game: 

OffenseBoat. Defense: Race.

the master's

Did you know Georgia Tech alum Bobby Jones founded and helped design the Augusta National Golf Club and co-founded the Masters Tournament? 

Prediction: ND wins, 52-21

 

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