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Notre Dame Football: W.I.N. (What’s Important Now) — Georgia Tech Week

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Some of us are exhausted from amazing weddings we were fortunate enough to attend two days ago...so we will see how this goes, y’all

*pops 4 ibuprofens and guzzles the still-way-too-hot coffee that just spewed out of the knock-off Keurig on his kitchen counter*

Oh dear LORD am I feelin’ it today. Another unreal wedding weekend with a vast majority of my favorite people in the world, another Monday where I remember I’m 30 now. Ya absolutely hate to see it.

Welp, time to suck it up and try to appear “with it” on the weekly call. Woof.

Let’s do this.

*clicks “Join Call” button*

Good morning, everybody! How’s everyone doing?

Did you all have nice weekends? Do anything fun?

Oh wow, that’s nice — yeah it was super cold, it was a great weekend to stay in for sure.

Nope, I was not in the city this weekend — I had another wedding, this time one that I was in, in Indianapolis. Yeah it was two of my closest friends who met through me, so it was quite the party. Definitely feeling it today though — we were dancing like we were in our 20s!

Hahaha yeah yeah, good point, Helen. That’s very true.

Okay, well I think this is the entire group we’re going to have today — Maurice just pinged me and said he had another call pop up.

Can everyone see my screen?

Awesome, okay well you folks know the agenda by heart at this point...

And we all know you don’t need this refresher anymore.

Okay cool, so let’s jump into Last Week’s Results.

So let’s quickly run through these — as I said, I was at a wedding during the game so I didn’t get to see much, except for some brief moments on my friend Prison Mike’s phone when I walked over to his table to talk to that group for a bit during dinner.

However, from watching the highlights, seeing a few tweets, and just asking Prison Mike and that crew what they’d seen as they watched on his phone, I was able to gather the following positives from the game:

  • Michael Mayer is BACK and being the dominant, Herculean figure we know and love in the passing game
  • Bellyman was once again Bellyman, continuing to find ways to make defenders look UTTERLY FOOLISH for trying to tackle him
  • Logan Diggs continued to flash OODLES of potential, including the ability to leap over 6’2” defenders and then continue running with the ball, making it very clear why LSU pushed so hard to flip him during his recruitment
  • Jack Coan having a quietly very efficient game where he spread 15 completions around to 7 receivers while completing 75% of his passes
  • The ND defense, despite missing several starters, doing what good defenses should do to a great offense that doesn’t have its star quarterback — suffocating them to the tune of 3 points, 2 interceptions, 7 sacks, and less than 300 total offensive yards
  • Specifically, we need to call out the rotational defensive guys who stepped up — Rylie Mills, Justin Ademilola, Bo Bauer, Howard Cross III, Ramon Henderson...that was pretty fun to see
  • The Notre Dame offensive line paving the way for nearly 250 yards rushing on over 6 yards per carry while also finally coming up with a clean sheet of protection, as ND QBs were not sacked on the evening and UVA managed just one QB hurry
  • Sometime around the 4th quarter, the vast majority of the attendees at the wedding Timbered harder than maybe anyone’s ever Timbered, and it was absolutely electric

On the negative side, there’s not that much to mention, honestly.

The big thing was just all the starting talent missing due to injury or illness — the Irish are lucky these last few games of the season are all against pretty bad teams, or otherwise losing this many starters would be pretty harmful to the team’s chances to win out.

Furthermore, it’s really hard to complain about a 25-point win with a straight face, but the offense could have and should have scored more than 28 points on a defense like Virginia’s. A few more style points and some more 4th quarter PT for the deep reserves would have been nice to see, if we want to nitpick a bit here.

Other negatives: Jack Coan’s INT on an otherwise sparkling evening for him; the fact I missed the game because of that weird, dumb, unbelievably fun “wedding” thing I was at; and my friends pranking my hotel room on Friday evening by leaving red balloons everywhere, hanging a creepy Pennywise thing from my bathroom doorway, and installing a creepy IT-themed light show in my otherwise dark room that my girlfriend and I walked into at like 1 AM on Saturday morning.

Managed to snap a post-wedding pic with Pennywise and two of the masterminds behind that prank...the bride and groom

Alright, let’s quickly take a glance at the scorecard from last week...

We’ve really covered most of this already, but I just want to shout out how great it is to see so much green this week — well done, Bellyman, Michael, Rylie, Jeff, D.J., Braden, Kevin, Josh & McJiggy, and myself. We tackled all our deliverables for the week, with some of them taking a little less effort and planning (Pat Rick drinking Hamm’s all night) than others (Josh & McJiggy getting married).

Logan, I do want to just say that although you ultimately failed in your action item to not completely ruin a grown man’s life by leaping over him and making him look silly, it was at least very fun to watch you do so.

Also, I’d love if the ND team can turn that action item from yellow to green in these final two games — really step on the Yellow Jackets’ and Cardinal’s throats and punish some weaker opponents, please!

Okay, moving on — it’s time for our favorite slide, the Team Members of the Week!!!!

I think you guys all figured these would be the honorees. Michael Mayer had a fantastic evening leading the team in receiving and snagging his 4th TD catch of the year, and the dynamic duo of Bellyman and Diggs, LLC, continued to run roughshod over bad defenses by combining for 134 yards and a touchdown and refusing to go down via the first defender they encountered each time.

Then, of course, there are all the defensive guys who stepped up in the absence of guys like Kyle Hamilton, Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, and Drew White. Rylie Mills, Justin Ademilola, and Bo Bauer combined for 18 tackles and 5 sacks between the three of them, with Bauer leading the team in tackles and adding a pass deflection on a fantastic night for him.

Meanwhile, Ramon Henderson looked good in extended time at nickel and safety, adding 4 tackles (0.5 for loss) and making a really nice pick on a UVA deep ball. And then, of course, Xavier Watts continued to flash speed and decisiveness in limited PT, racking up 5 tackles including 4 all by his lonesome.

Alrighty, now let’s look ahead to this week’s opponent, the 3-7 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

I’ll allow you all to peruse this on your own time, but would just like to note the significant Waffle House connections that Georgia Tech has, along with other notable alumni like the founder of Days Inn, Jeff Foxworthy, and a G.I. Joe character who goes by the nickname “Grunt.” Talk about squad goals.

To dive a bit deeper, here are the big things to know about Georgia Tech.

If you had to pick one or two names to know for Georgia Tech, they are without question Jahmyr Gibbs and Jeff Sims. Both are sophomores who exploded onto the scene last year with fantastic initial seasons, and they combine to make up a backfield that really deserves better talent around them, considering how much more they would thrive.

Gibbs is the starting running back for the Yellow Jackets and is likely the best back the Irish will have faced in this regular season. He’s a big-play threat who’s second in the country in all-purpose yards (168 per game, 1,680 total) and leads GT in both rushing (687 yards, 5.3 YPC, 4 TD) and receiving (34 catches, 469 yards, 2 TD).

He also returns kickoffs for Georgia Tech and is #17 in the country in average yards per return and #8 in kick return yards per game and total kick return yards, having already taken one kick for a TD this season.

Sims was the guy who seemed to get more press in 2020 for being the true frosh starter at QB, and rightfully so considering the potential he showed. His 2021 season has been okay but not great, as he’s thrown for 1,468 yards and 12 TDs while completing 60% of his passes and throwing 7 INTs.

His 372 yards rushing and 4 rushing touchdowns on 5.3 yards per carry certainly point to his dangerous talent as a dual-threat, and so the Irish really need to focus on him and Gibbs in terms of whom to contain on Senior Day.

Besides those two, the Yellow Jackets offense is pretty bad-to-mediocre, ranking 60th in SP+, 63rd in scoring, 65th in total offense, 55th in yards per play, 69th in passer rating, etc. Their rushing offense is okay (51st in total rushing, 36th in yards per carry), but nothing the Irish defense isn’t capable of containing/largely shutting down — especially if they can manage to wrangle Gibbs early on runs and not let him get to the second level.

Defensively, Georgia Tech is pretty bad. They’re 81st in SP+, 93rd in scoring defense, 114th in total defense (#98 vs. the run and #117 vs. the pass), 111th in yards per play allowed, 74th in yards per carry allowed, 125th in yards per passing attempt allowed, and 126th in passer rating allowed.

This is a group that the Irish should be able to tear up via both the ground the air, and really there’s only a couple key guys to even take note of as they do so. Linebacker Quez Jackson is a tackling machine, currently 13th in the country in total tackles (96) and 15th in tackles per game (9.6). Meanwhile, DL Jordan Domenick has a knack for causing turnovers, ranked 13th in the nation in forced fumbles with 3. If the Irish just stay wary of those two and otherwise go out and keep doing their thing, this should be another blowout win for ND.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 13 Boston College at Georgia Tech Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With all that said, let’s quickly go over What’s Important Now for the Irish to do just that, and blow out the Yellow Jackets on Senior Day at Notre Dame Stadium.

I’ve been a bit of a broken record here with lots of this, but just want to reiterate that it’s important the Irish get out to a quick start and use big plays to break Georgia Tech’s will and make this thing a blowout, early.

Marcus Freeman should be bringing the house to pressure Jeff Sims when he drops back, and otherwise everyone should be keying on Jahmyr Gibbs. As long as both of those guys aren’t allowed to be like Sam Howell a few weeks back running wild into the open field, there should be plenty of opportunities for three-and-outs and turnovers on the day.

Otherwise, I say ND should focus on getting all the seniors some nice moments/PT, using a hopefully-early blowout to rotate in a ton of different guys for more PT and reps for all, and, if possible, get Bellyman a nice home send-off with a big rushing day, considering this is probably his final game in Notre Dame Stadium.

Oh, and for the love of God, don’t kick it to Jahmyr Gibbs and let him potentially make things chaotic with a momentum-swinging kick return TD or something.

Alright, well that’s really all I’ve got. Any questions???

None, as always — you guys are so good about getting everything the first time!

Alrighty, well per usual I will send the link to this deck out for you to refer to on your own time, and please let me know if anything else comes up or you have any further questions/concerns.

Otherwise, have a great week everybody, and thanks for your time!

Buh bye now!

*Clicks “End Call” button*

*runs to the kitchen and is horrified to find out there are no more K-Cups in the pantry*

Dear God...

*falls asleep*