Friday, August 31, 2007
Georgia Tech at Notre Dame Preview
Georgia Institute of Technology (aka Georgia Tech)
Head Coach: Chan Gailey
Coaching Record: 61-38 overall, 37-27 at Georgia Tech, 5th season
Last Year: 9-5, ACC Coastal Champions, Lost to West Virginia in Toyota Gator Bowl
University of Notre Dame
Fightin' Irish (0-0)
Head Coach: Charlie Weis
Coaching Record: 19-6, 3rd season
Last Year: 10-3, Lost to Louisiana State in Allstate Sugar Bowl
Location: Notre Dame Stadium
Date and Time: September 1, 2007 3:43 p.m.
Series Record: Notre Dame leads 27-5-1 overall, 15-2 at Notre Dame Stadium
Notre Dame Quarterback and Receivers vs. Georgia Tech Secondary
Notre Dame's inexperienced quarterback and lack of superstars in the receiving corps means that the Irish will struggle to pass the ball at mid to long range. Tech's secondary is very good, one of the best that we will face this year.
Edge: Georgia Tech
Notre Dame Offensive Line vs. Georgia Tech Defensive Line
Notre Dame's retooled offensive line will be bigger and stronger than we've had in a long time. John Sullivan's experience and leadership will hold this unit together. The inexperience may lead to some early breakdowns and miscommunication, but Notre Dame's commitment to the running game will wear down the smaller Tech defensive line.
Edge: Notre Dame
Notre Dame Running Backs and Tight Ends vs. Georgia Tech Linebackers
Notre Dame is loaded at running back, and will be rotating in talent to keep fresh legs in the game. The establishment of our running game will help relieve the pressure off of our passing game as well. In addition, John Carlson will be a big weapon against the smaller Tech linebackers. Our receivers will run a lot of short routes as well, wide receiver screens and slants, to keep the pressure on the Tech linebackers. Wheeler is one of the best linebackers we'll face this year, but he can't do it all by himself. Also, Wheeler will eventually be worn out from taking on Asaph Schwapp all game long.
Edge: Notre Dame
Notre Dame Defensive Line vs. Georgia Tech Offensive Line
Tech's offensive line is very experienced, starting only one new player this year. Our defensive line is largely inexperienced and not deep enough to stay fresh against this veteran line. We will struggle getting pressure with our defensive line alone, so expect to see a lot of blitzing from Corwin Brown this game.
Notre Dame Linebackers vs. Georgia Tech Running Backs and Tight Ends
This matchup will be where this game is won or lost. Tashard Choice is an excellent and durable running back who will be the cornerstone of their game plan this year. The new Tech offensive coordinator found ways to feed the ball to Garrett Wolfe last year, and will do the same with Tashard Choice this year. Our linebackers are very talented, if inexperienced. Maurice Crum will have his hands full all game holding this unit together. Tech's tight ends don't scare me - their top tight end has been banged up all offseason, and thnone of them have much in the way of experience. Ultimately, I think that this matchup comes down to Mo Crum vs. Tashard Choice.
Notre Dame Secondary vs. Georgia Tech Quarterbacks and Receivers
The parallels between Georgia Tech and Notre Dame when it comes to the passing game are almost eery. Both teams are looking to replace a four year starter at quarterback, and an All-American at receiver. The players stepping in are largely unimpressive, although Taylor Bennett did look good in last year's Gator Bowl, giving him some valuable confidence and experience coming into the game. Because of all these parallels, I just don't expect much from the Tech passing game tomorrow.
Add to that the fact that this is the best and deepest secondary we've had since 1993, with experienced players throughout and an All-American safety in Tommy Z, and this matchup becomes a no-brainer.
Edge: Notre Dame
Notre Dame Coaches vs. Georgia Tech Coaches
Coach Weis is coming into the season with back-to-back BCS appearances. We've replaced the underperforming Rick Minter at defensive coordinator with Corwin Brown, who is well regarded in coaching circles, but has never been a coordinator before. Notre Dame's strength and conditioning coach, Ruben Mendoza, may be the best in the country, and the assistants are experienced and intelligent. This staff resembles an NFL staff more than a college staff.
Georgia Tech should name John Tenuta their head coach, as he is the only staff member on Tech's coaching staff that is truly impressive. Head Coach Chan Gailey is good, having taken Tech to bowl games in all 5 of his seasons as head coach, but he is not a national championship caliber coach like Weis. He reminds me a lot of Joe Tiller - perfect for a mediocre football program. He'll get you to a bowl game every year, but that's about it. Their new offensive coordinator is an up and comer, but may be a flash in the pan that rode Garrett Wolfe's talent to the big leagues. Only time will tell.
Edge: Notre Dame
Quarterback and Receivers vs. Secondary: Edge Georgia Tech
Running Backs and Tight Ends vs. Linebackers: Edge Notre Dame
Offensive Line vs. Defensive Line: Edge Notre Dame
Defensive Line vs. Offensive Line: Edge Georgia Tech
Linebackers vs. Running Backs and Tight Ends: Draw
Secondary vs. Quarterbacks and Receivers: Edge Notre Dame
Coaches vs. Coaches: Edge Notre Dame
This game should be interesting, as the two teams lining up against each other on Saturday are going to have the same game plan. Both teams want to establish a running game to relieve the pressure on their young and inexperienced signal caller. Both have excellent secondaries, and one excellent linebacker. Both are looking for someone to step up and replace an All-American receiver. Heck, both teams even sport All-American punters, for crying out loud.
They aren't identical, though. Tech has a much better defensive line than the Irish and more experience throughout their team. Notre Dame has an All-American tight end as a weapon, and more team speed overall.
Ultimately, however, I expect this to be an old-fashioned grind it out football game, with both offenses being able to establish a running game. It will be close, and the difference in the game will probably come down to field position and coaching.
Field position will be interesting, as neither team has an advantage at punter or kick returner. The Irish do have a distinct advantage at punt returner - we have Tommy Z, and they are using a walk-on with a history of injury problems. A Tommy Z punt return could mean the difference between winning and losing.
I believe we have the distinct edge in gameday coaching, and the Coach Weis will place this team in a position to win the game late.
Both teams grind it out in a ball-control game, with the two All-American punters being showcased throughout a low-scoring affair. I think eventually the winner of the game will be the team that can make one or two explosive plays, or the team with the ball last. I wouldn't be surprised to see this game into overtime. Ultimately, the home field advantage and luck of the Irish will win over all.
Notre Dame 17
Georgia Tech 14