Notre Dame played a sensational 59 minutes of football on Saturday and it was more than enough to defeat Georgia Tech. It is true that the last minute was not a thing of beauty but it is hard to be unhappy about a 30-22 win over the No. 14 team in the country.
With injury after injury piling up, many wondered how Notre Dame would respond. The Fighting Irish answered by doing a lot right and very little wrong for those 59 minutes.
Here are five thoughts on Notre Dame following the Georgia Tech game.
1. The Option Defense was Outstanding
Georgia Tech rushed for 216 yards. In a normal offense, that is a lot. But in Paul Johnson’s triple option it is not good at all. The last time that Georgia Tech was held under that amount was the 2013 Music City Bowl against Ole Miss. Linebacker Joe Schmidt and the rest of the Irish defense shut down the running lanes on Tech quarterback Justin Thomas and had the pitch man covered. Fullback Patrick Skov was contained pretty well too. Overall, the Irish were stellar against the run.
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2. Teams Will Look to Throw Against the Irish Moving Forward
Notre Dame’s rush defense is No. 41 in the country right now. Despite how well the Irish defended the Yellow Jacket option attack, those 216 yards rushing will skew the ranking just a bit. Notre Dame has defended the run very well for the first three games, except for the jet sweeps against Virginia. The Cavaliers also gave the Irish trouble through the air, however, and Georgia Tech rallied by throwing the ball late. It is true that Notre Dame didn’t want to give up the big plays at the end of the game, which allowed Georgia Tech to throw the ball effectively. But the Notre Dame run defense has been so good and there have been some holes in the pass defense that future opponents will try to exploit.
3. Notre Dame Can Win With DeShone Kizer at Quarterback
The sophomore from Toledo had a nice first start for the Irish. He was 21-of-31 for 242 yards and a touchdown. His interception was poorly thrown (or at least not at the right time) and he needs to be more careful with the football. But those are things head coach Brian Kelly and quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford will work with him on. Kizer showed his mobility and his big arm. If Kizer continues to improve as expected, Notre Dame will be just fine at quarterback.
4. C.J. Prosise, One More Time
Saturday night a friend asked me, “If Tarean Folston hadn’t gotten hurt, would we know that C.J. Prosise was this good?” The answer is probably not. It took a while for the senior to find his real position, but he is there now. After his 198-yard performance against Georgia Tech, which included a Notre Dame Stadium-record 91-yard run, Prosise is fifth in the nation with 451 yards rushing. The threat of Prosise, along with the immense skill of wide receiver Will Fuller, will be a great benefit to Kizer moving forward.
5. The Shakiness of Justin Yoon
Many assumed that the transition from Kyle Brindza to Justin Yoon would be smooth. Yoon was considered the best high school kicker in the country and was solid during camp. But since the games have started, Yoon has been inconsistent. No one doubts his talent; the coaching staff just has to get his confidence back up. Notre Dame will need Yoon to make a big kick at least one time this season and he has to believe that he will make it.
— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.