That victory, as you likely know, pushed the Irish’s record to 9-1 on the season and a #8 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings this week (and #6 in the AP Poll). Slowly but surely, Notre Dame is advancing up the list toward a potential College Football Playoff spot — not because of anything big on their end, but simply due to maintaining their record while others (Oklahoma last weekend) fall down from above them.
So, this weekend brings another opportunity for the Irish to hold serve as teams above them play tough opponents — #4 Ohio State will play #7 Michigan State, #2 Alabama gets #21 Arkansas, #5 Cincinnati will take on a dangerous SMU team, etc.
All ND has to do is take down the 3-7 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at home on Senior Day, which is a very doable task. The Yellow Jackets, though, don’t come into this match-up without a little firepower they’re bringing with them — namely, RB Jahmyr Gibbs, who’s currently #2 in the country in all-purpose yardage.
But is there more to Georgia Tech than one fast and talented back? Do the Yellow Jackets have any chance at threatening an upset? These are the kinds of questions I don’t have well-informed answers for, so I instead reached out to Josh Brundage, an “Assistant Coach” over at From The Rumble Seat, SB Nation’s resident Georgia Tech site.
Josh is a recurring guest within these OFD Q&As, so he of course provided some excellent answers, in-depth analysis, plenty of humor, and even plentier honesty in his responses to all of our ridiculous questions. So, let’s go ahead and dive in and see what all the buzz is about with this year’s Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets squad.
1. It’s year 3 of the Geoff Collins era and the Yellow Jackets are 9-23 so far in that time. Have you seen the program taking any big steps forward despite the lack of improvement on wins and losses, or is confidence in Geoff Collins waning?
Josh Brundage: Definitely the latter, and you can tell by our attendance for home games this year, which is basically the lowest it has been by average capacity in the history of the program. By our blog’s count, the loss to Boston College this last week was the third time in a postgame presser that Collins said the other team used or adjusted to a personnel group that they weren’t prepared for…and we’re not talking anything exotic here. The coaching staff didn’t have a plan for 11 personnel, which is squarely on their shoulders.
It’s really gotten kind of pathetic at this point late in year 3. I mean, how do you not have the capability to adjust to the other team adding or removing receivers on the field? I know how to do this playing Madden on my couch at home, and I’m not being paid millions of dollars per year.
In short, it’s a very talented but poorly-coached team. Tech consistently struggles with penalties, especially on special teams, and getting play-calls in on defense — all things that are on the coaching staff. Collins has also said in multiple pressers that the reason there was blown coverage and the defense gave up a wide-open TD to a WR, was because the 4* upperclassmen DBs don’t trust each other and try to play other assignments…which is a coaching issue.
In short, we’re just all tired of his coachspeak and lack of candor. He attacks local beat reporters who are respectfully asking legitimate questions rather than taking ownership for the losses and on-field issues.
2. The Yellow Jackets have lost 4 in a row and 5 of 6 after starting the year 2-2 including a win over then-ranked-21st UNC. What’s gone wrong of late for this squad, and was this kind of season what you were expecting?
Josh Brundage: I’m not sure what any of us had in mind this season, especially after the funky COVID year in 2020, but 3 wins with a loss to Northern Illinois is not it. Basically, we just wanted to see some sort of proof of concept this season — that this coaching staff is developing talent and scheme and showing real progress on the field.
We really haven’t seen any of that.
We were definitely not expecting the massive regression from the defense, especially with a defensively-minded head coach at the helm. I’ve lost track of the QBs who have had career days against us, as well as the teams that set scoring records against us. The defense is a mess almost to an unbelievable degree. There needs to be some major changes on that side of the ball this offseason, or I don’t see Collins winning enough games to keep his job after next season when his buyout drops.
On the upside for expectations, that offensive line has improved, especially in pass blocking, compared to the last 2 seasons. They’re still not great, but there’s been improvement there.
3. Jeff Sims looked really promising as a freshman in 2020 — how has he looked in his sophomore season, and has he progressed as expected? What does he do well and not do well?
Josh Brundage: Sims is crazy talented, but he definitely has not progressed as expected, and it’s pretty safe to blame that on the coaching staff. He’s actually only started 6 of the games this season. The coaching staff has been unclear about whether his backup, Jordan Yates, has been out-playing him in practice, or if injuries are the reason Yates has started, including last week against Boston College.
Sims has just been really streaky in his appearances this year. He’s a good dual-threat quarterback with loads of potential, but he seems to get the yips and miss wide-open wide receivers. We very much want Sims to be the Yellow Jacket QB of the future, but a 60% completion percentage, with 12 TDs to 7 INTs isn’t going to cut it at this level. We keep seeing flashes of his talent, and we just want to see it more consistently.
In Sims’ defense, he is often running for his life behind this offensive line, so having more competent protection in front of him would help as well. Then again, this all comes back to player development, which this coaching staff hasn’t necessarily shown they’re capable of.
4. What are the names to know besides Sims on the Georgia Tech offense, and how has the offensive line looked this season?
Josh Brundage: We covered the offensive line a little already, but they generally struggle in both run and pass blocking…so that’s not great. The pass protection used to be abysmal, but has improved some this season. The writers with more advanced-stat knowledge than me always pull the PFF grades for the O-line, and it’s never pretty.
Otherwise, Jahmyr Gibbs at RB is a monster, and is a joy to watch. He returned a kickoff for a TD last week, and is both a threat on the ground and receiving. He’s actually the leading receiver on the team after last week and averages almost 14 yards per catch. He’s pretty easily the most talented player on the team, and his play alone is often worth tuning in to see.
5. Defensively, what are the Yellow Jackets’ strengths and what vulnerabilities/weak position groups could the Notre Dame offense exploit on Saturday?
Josh Brundage: For reasons unbeknownst to us, our secondary has been a disaster this season. I’m assuming Coan will have a career day against us…it’s been a theme with our opponents this year. Our linebacker corps has actually been pretty solid this year, but they’re not being helped by a struggling pass rush and a secondary with a penchant for turning receivers loose.
At LB, Charlie Thomas has had a really nice season with 3 sacks, 2 INTs, and a forced fumble. Turnovers have been very hard to come by this season for the Tech defense, so Thomas has stood out there.
6. Can you give us a quick explanation on the origin/meaning of your site name, From The Rumble Seat?
Josh Brundage: Certainly! The team is led onto the field every game by a 1930 Ford Model A Sport Coupe. You can read about its extensive history, if you’re so inclined, here.
The rear seat bench flips up from the trunk area and is called the “rumble seat.” Generally, guests of honor for the game are given a ride in on it each week.
7. FAN QUESTION:
Notre Dame used to be known as the Ramblers. Is it better to be a Ramblin’ Wreck or a Wreckin Rambler?— Mike (@MrCockyHill) November 14, 2021
Josh Brundage: Our fight song is about being a Ramblin’ Wreck and drinking and fighting, so I think I’ll stick with that…for the booze.
Never watch Georgia Tech football sober.
8. FAN QUESTION:
If GA Tech could give up its mascot and exchange it for one that’s larger than a quarter, what would it be and why?— Jordan Zgrabik (@MrJayWooz) November 15, 2021
Josh Brundage: I’m cheating here, but we already have that built-in with the Ramblin’ Wreck.
You can buy lots of merch with the car on it. It has been a mascot and a part of Tech lore since 1961.
9. FAN QUESTION:
Georgia Tech makes the championship, but you have to watch the game while wearing a jacket made out of angry yellow jackets. You in?— Ryan Kennedy (@RyanKWrites) November 15, 2021
Josh Brundage: Absolutely, no questions asked. They won’t sting you if you’re calm, right?
However, maintaining a peaceable demeanor while watching Georgia Tech in a national title game might be more difficult than maintaining that while wearing the bees.
10. Alright, let’s get down to it: who’s going to win, what will the final score be, and why?
Josh Brundage: Oh, Notre Dame wins this by a lot. The Irish are fighting for a playoff spot and only have 2 games to make their case to the Committee. I think this is a statement win over a flailing Yellow Jacket squad. Right now, Notre Dame is a 17-point favorite, and I would bet a mortgage payment on the Irish to cover.
Tech’s defense can’t stop anyone, so I think this game ends up in the 48-17 range with the Irish winning big.
Alrighty, I wanna give a huge shout-out to Josh for some awesome answers — informative, extremely honest, had some fun with it — it was enough for me to really hope he and the rest of the Georgia Tech faithful get a more worthy coaching staff to follow ASAP.
Be sure to head over to From The Rumble Seat to check out all the great content Josh and the team over there are putting out around Georgia Tech sports, especially heading into this weekend’s game. You might even find a little ole Q&A with some idiot named Pat Rick on there.
Well folks, that’s all I’ve got for this week — as usual, GO IRISH!!!