Notre Dame football heads into Week 3 with a nightmare matchup against Georgia Tech. Through the first two games of the season, Georgia Tech has completely dominated, outscoring opponents by an average score of 67-8.
Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Johnson is a mastermind of the triple option offense, and has implemented the offensive system at Georgia Tech since he was hired in 2008. Going up against Navy every year has given the Irish experience against the option, but the Irish have had a difficult time defending against the option in recent years. Georgia Tech is a faster, bigger and stronger version of Navy, and the Yellow Jackets’ offense is one that will gradually wear down a defense throughout the course of a game. The Yellow Jackets led the nation in rushing yards last year with 342 yards per game, and QB Justin Thomas has perfected the option game; he is rated as the most efficient quarterback in the country.
Notre Dame has a tough task on offense as well. Backup quarterback DeShone Kizer will make his first start in his college career after starting quarterback Malik Zaire went down with an ankle injury in Week 2. The Georgia Tech defense is not an easy test to go up against in a first start.
In order for Notre Dame to be successful on Saturday, the Notre Dame defensive backs need to play lockdown defense, and the front seven needs to shut down the running game early and force Georgia Tech into uncomfortable third-and-long situations. Although Justin Thomas has been extremely efficient throwing the ball so far this season, he has only thrown a total of 13 passes. If the Irish are able to start the game on a roll and put the Yellow Jackets in a hole early, then it will force the quarterback to make plays with his arm, which is something that he hasn’t had to do yet this season.
On offense, it’s important to build Kizer’s confidence and establish the passing game early. They must make the Georgia Tech defense respect Kizer’s arm in order to open up the rushing attack later in the game. If Kizer can find his rhythm early, and find his playmakers, the offense will continue to make big plays.
Notre Dame has the advantage of playing at home, as Georgia Tech will play its first away game of the season. However, the last time Notre Dame and Georgia Tech met in South Bend, the Yellow Jackets walked away with a 33-3 victory.