Irish Get Past Jackets

Notre Dame turned in another stellar defensive performance, at least until they relaxed in a sloppy fourth quarter, as the Fighting Irish beat Georgia Tech by 31-13 on Saturday. The offense flexed its muscles when it was needed most, but Notre Dame’s performance had all the earmarks of a team looking ahead to next week’s game.

The Irish started fast by taking the opening kickoff and grinding out an 81-yard touchdown drive in just under nine minutes. Ian Book hit Joe Wilkins from eight yards out for the score.

It appeared the visitors would turn the contest into a romp when they quickly got the ball back and moved into scoring territory, but disaster struck. Kyren Williams was stripped of the ball inside the five yard line and Zamari Walton returned it 93 yards to tie the game.

Notre Dame quickly regrouped and Williams atoned for his mistake. His hard running put the Irish in the end zone this time as the game entered the second quarter.

While the defense continued to stifle the Yellow Jackets, Jonathan Doerer added a field goal before halftime to give his team a 17-7 lead at the break.

Tech took the ball in the third period with renewed energy. A 39-yard pass from Jeff Sims to Jalen Camp moved the ball into scoring range, but a strip sack and fumble recovery by Notre Dame stopped them cold. Once again, Book and the offense came alive and drove impressively down the field to open up a 24-7 advantage.

Georgia Tech’s next drive was also ended by a sack. Jude Kelly came on to attempt a field goal, but it was comically wide and short. Notre Dame came right back and stormed through the Tech defense for another touchdown. Georgia native C’Bo Flemister finished the drive with a three-yard run for a 31-7 lead early in the final stanza.

Once the outcome was no longer in doubt, Tech began to move the ball while Notre Dame’s defense lost its edge. A Jordan Mason run capped a long scoring march that was characterized by blown defensive assignments and sloppy tackling. The two-point conversion was unsuccessful, leaving the margin at 31-13.

The Irish were further embarrassed when the Yellow Jackets recovered the ensuing onside kick, but the defense rose up one last time to stop them.

It was not an artistic display of football, but Notre Dame outgained Tech by 426-238. Coach Brian Kelly rightfully acknowledged in his post game remarks that his team could not afford to repeat the mistakes of this game next week.

Let’s review the answers to our pregame questions:

Can Notre Dame’s defense penetrate Tech’s mountainous offensive line? They didn’t make a dent in the first half, but Daelin Hayes and his mates caused plenty of havoc in the second.

Will Sims create problems for the Irish as did Florida State’s Jordan Travis? Not on a consistent basis. Sims is just not accurate enough as a passer at this stage of his career.

Can Kyle Hamilton treat his hometown fans to an interception? No, but he blew up a fourth down play by Tech when the outcome was still in doubt, and later stuffed a two-point conversion attempt.

Will Book find new targets and improve his passing efficiency? He made some good throws to McKinley and the scoring pass to Wilkins, but Book is still difficult to watch at times.

Can the Irish offensive line rebound after giving up 12 tackles for loss at Pitt? They were somewhat better but still allowed a few sacks and numerous pressures.

Will the Irish special teams have another strong performance? Another blown attempt to recover an onside kick, which is alarming. We all got a laugh out of the Georgia Tech field goal attempt.

Can Notre Dame play with high intensity and force Tech into key mistakes? The effort was there, but mainly in spurts. It was inconsistent, though, but enough to beat this opponent.

Will any Irish freshman receivers get a chance to have an impact? No, and that was a shame.

Despite the 6-0 mark, the Irish still exhibit several characteristics that make one less confident in their chances to keep their winning streak alive. There are too many head-scratching and wasted offensive possessions, red zone play calling is often horrid, and Book is still far too inconsistent. Defensively, there are holes at linebacker that good teams will exploit, and special teams are capable of a catastrophe every time they are on the field.

Kelly and his staff have a week to fix these issues. The giant asteroid that is heading to South Bend won’t have it’s usual pilot, but they are still good enough to obliterate the Northern Indiana landscape.

Tell John what you think in the Comments section below

19 thoughts on “Irish Get Past Jackets

  1. JVAN,

    We still do not play at an elite level… Way too many sloppy mistakes by the Irish..

    This game should have been over by halftime….. but we continue to let lesser teams
    hang around way to long..IMHO..

    And the same old post game interview BK telling us how they need to clean things up.
    I’m really tired of watching the same movie for the last 10 years… Am I wrong??

    A handful of losses coming in November!!

  2. A solid performance for the Irish, especially the defense but the offense still seems to not be running on all cylinders. I still suspect receivers not getting separation is part of the problem. Book still not where he needs to be.

    Honestly, I would rather have seen ND play Clemson with Trevor Lawrence playing. They are going to have defeat teams at that level if they are going to be elite.

  3. A very good effort by a very good team. We are better than “good” – we are very good. However, next Saturday we will need to be great, which is a level of performance we have not yet achieved this year.

  4. Every view of Book operating behind the line of scrimmage has me covering my eyes. Scampering, stuttering, hesitating, and then escaping.
    Why was he still in the game till the end? Still giving a 3rd year starter game practice?
    I hang on to the remote in case I hear an analyst say that our OL is the best in the country.
    And the 4th quarter was unwatchable.
    I may not have the stomach to tune in to the Book – Jerkovec matchup.

    • Irish in the South says:

      Trying to look at Book objectively. What qualities does he have in leading the Irish? He does not give up the football. He has made plays on critical third downs. He has gained yards on the ground, many times for first downs in critical drives. He has good awareness of what is needed to sustain a drive. He is not perfect with his passing, but accurate enough to move near the top in ND record books for QBs. He has not lost at HOME.

      Mr. Book…..Please keep that record going on Saturday against Clemson!!

  5. The passing game continues to be an issue. The 4 to 7 yard crossing route is really getting old. Don’t know if the problem is the receivers getting separation, Book, or the offensive play calling. Maybe a combo of all three.Defense continues to be solid, thank god.

  6. Thomas Tomasi says:

    They won the game. Clemson, luckily squeezed by. If I remember ND was on the one or so yard line at the end of the game. Would have added 7 more points. Give me a break.
    All that said, ND will not win a nat. Championship with Book at the helm. Will win a lot of games, but not the big one,

  7. This is a good team, a top 15 team, but not elite.
    The Irish will need the breaks to go their way if they’re going to beat Clemson.
    I expect, w/ Lawrence on the bench, Irish will keep the score within 10 points or less. A win would be a pleasant
    surprise!

  8. Anyone else think both Alabama and OSU will jump Clemson in the polls? Will also help devalue any strength ND may show next week, including the chance of a win.

  9. That performance would result in a 17 point loss to Clemson. Offense is so predictable and Book is incredibly limited. I don’t understand why Kelly doesn’t see that to be great he needs to take some chances on offense and get the freshmen wideouts on the field. Not feeling good about next week.

      • I saw our best QB playing for a rival team and almost pulled off the upset against Clemson. I would be shocked if Book plays nearly as well as Phil did and even more surprised if match or exceed the 28 points BC scored. Kelly has recruited the QB position terribly and developed it even worse. These are the facts and why they haven’t been able to compete better against the top teams.

  10. BC had a 99 yard scoop-n-run TD., a fake punt, and a bobbled TD reception in the first half. Clemson took care of business in the second half.

    I agree that ND’s a very good team; however, Clemson is a dominating team. I would hope that we can play with them for longer than 1 1/2 quarters next week – perhaps 2 or 3.

  11. Kevin mccarthy says:

    I’m a diehard Irish fan , I bleed blue from my left arm and gold from my right., so it feels harsh to lay it out like this. ND has played nobody, our opponents combined w-l record is 12-28. Clemson has not faced much competition either, their opponents come in at 18-24.We are much better on D than in the past, faster, bigger , stronger, but too often out of position, leading to missed tackles. If ND plays at its current level you’ll see a Clemson win In the 31-10 range. If the Irish can play at an inspired and near perfect level Clemson can be beat!. Book will be a big part of it , he’s got to play way above the level he’s shown so far. No turnovers, quick decisions, escape sacks, and throw with accuracy. Kyren has to be focused on ball security. I’m gonna choose to believe, Go Irish, send Dabo home with an L!

  12. Way to go ND…..6 and 0…..and now onto Clemson…..can’t wait……the Irish will be ready…..go ND BEAT Tigers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Our schedule has been so weak that I can’t tell how good our O-line and defensive front seven are. Watching Pitt and Louisville frequently stuff our running attack was disquieting. If our offense leaves our defense on the field most of the first half, we will be toast. The most interesting matchup for me will be Tommy Rees vs. Clemson’s DC. Is Rees elite-like or is he just a rookie learning on the job? Next, can our defense rattle their freshman QB early and often? We should have license to blitz an inexperienced QB often, assuming we can slow down Etienne.

    • Irish in the South says:

      I saw BC gain some yards on the ground against Clemson. We can do much more of the same with our O-line. We must in order to open up our passing game. We really miss a guy like Claypool…Worth 2 TDs against Clemson.

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