Stacking Up: How The Notre Dame Defense Matches Up vs. Georgia Tech

Breaking down how the Notre Dame defense stacks up on paper against Georgia Tech
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Notre Dame's pursuit of an ACC championship continues on Saturday when the Fighting Irish travel to Atlanta to take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Notre Dame goes into the matchup with a significant on paper and talent matchup, but Georgia Tech has some young weapons on offense that must be kept in check.

Let's take a look at how the Notre Dame defense stacks up on paper against the Georgia Tech offense.

Notre Dame Scoring Defense vs. Georgia Tech Scoring Offense

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Advantage: Notre Dame

We keep hearing about how the COVID-19 offseason disruptions have hurt defenses and helped offenses, but that hasn't been the case at Notre Dame. Notre Dame's 5-0 start has been largely do to brilliant play by the Irish defense.

Notre Dame has held three of its last four opponents to less than 10 points, something the defense hasn't done since the 2012 season. Three of Notre Dame's five opponents were held to less than 300 yards, and Pitt's 162 yards of offense last weekend was the fewest by an opposing offense in the Kelly era.

The Irish defense has been brilliant on third-down, and its red zone defense has been vastly. 

Georgia Tech's offense started the season off on a high note, averaging 453 yards and 6.1 yards per play. In its last two games, the Yellow Jackets have averaged just 17 points per game, 283 yards per game and 4.6 yards per play.

Georgia Tech ranks 100th in the nation in turnovers with 18. The offense has turned it over at least twice in five of the six games, including a pair of 5-turnover games.

Notre Dame Rush Defense vs. Georgia Tech Rush Offense

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Advantage: Notre Dame

A big reason for Notre Dame's brilliant defensive play this season has been its excellent run defense. Notre Dame's 13th ranking in rush defense is also misleading. Five of the teams ahead of Notre Dame have played just one game, and another (Air Force) has played just two games.

The Fighting Irish have held three of their five opponents to under 100 yards, and another (South Florida), had just 106 yards. The "bad game" for Notre Dame was against Florida State, when the Irish allowed 153 yards while holding the Seminoles to 3.8 yards per carry.

Consider that Florida State rushed for 263 yards in the game prior to playing the Irish and 241 yards a week later, in an upset win over North Carolina.

The Irish defense line might struggle to get a consistent pass rush at times, but the unit has been outstanding against the run all season.

Georgia Tech has two of the most dynamic athletes in the backfield that Notre Dame will face this season in quarterback Jeff Sims and running back Jahmyr Gibbs. The two talented true freshmen are very talented and capable of giving teams a lot of problems.

The issue for the Yellow Jackets is their offensive line struggles to give them the room necessary for the talent to turn into consistent production.

Notre Dame Pass Defense vs. Georgia Tech Pass Offense

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Advantage: Notre Dame

Notre Dame's pass defense numbers are quite good, but this is a unit that has not been tested yet. Pitt was supposed to be the best pass offense the Irish faced, but they weren't quite the same without starting quarterback Kenny Pickett.

Holding the talented Louisville wideouts in check was impressive, but the Irish secondary has been vulnerable to the big play a bit more this season.

If the pass rush can get home then it won't matter, because Sims isn't an overly accurate passer. In fact, the talented freshman has been held below 50% completions in two games, at 50% in another game and just 52.4% in yet another.

Getting pressure on Sims will make it much harder for him to go through his progressions, set his feet and get the ball downfield to a group of wide receivers that have some ability.

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