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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame HC Brian Kelly Says Defense Will Be Tested By Georgia Tech

October 26, 2020

They’re not the stars of the ACC just yet, but Georgia Tech quarterback Jeff Sims and running back Jahmyr Gibbs will likely find themselves amongst the league’s best by the time their careers with the Yellow Jackets are finished.

As true freshmen carrying the load for a Power 5 Football program, there have been some inconsistent results, but the highs have been quite impressive.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly gives his Georgia Tech counterpart, Geoff Collins, high marks for bringing in talent in Year Two of transformation from a triple-option offense.

“He's recruited very, very well and making this transition to a pro-style, spread offense, led by two outstanding young players that are as good as any young players in the country and in the ACC,” Kelly said on Monday afternoon.

“Jeff Sims is a talent. He's got arm talent, he's got the ability to extend plays, and he's very dangerous with football in his hand.”

Sims, who was a high 4-star recruit out of high school and was once committed to Florida State, has completed 83 of 150 pass attempts so far this season for 1,196 yards with eight touchdowns, but 10 interceptions. He’s rushed for 275 yards on 69 carries and added four more scores on the ground.

His rushing totals are second on the team behind only Gibbs, who has 308 yards and four touchdowns on the same amount of carries. Gibbs, who shined at the All-American Bowl in San Antonio this past January, also has 15 receptions for 206 yards and three scores.  

“When you talk about the talented backs in this league – and there are many, including Kyren Williams here – Jahmyr Gibbs is an explosive back,” Kelly said. “He's somebody that you'd need to know where he is and really impressed with him.

“Those two in particular are problems.”

Kelly also pointed to the size of Georgia Tech’s offensive line, which is bigger than past Yellow Jacket units and is 18 pounds more per player this year than last.

“He's got some of the bigger offensive linemen that we've seen and we thought we've had big offensive linemen, but these are so different than what Georgia Tech obviously has had in their program,” said Kelly. “Now he's got some transfers from the SEC, some big, physical offensive linemen, he's got a young freshman who's going to be an incredible talent at tackle.”

Jordan Williams is a 6-foot-6, 330-pound freshman who came in with plenty of attention and was included on some Preseason Freshman All-America squads while 6-foot-6, 325-pound Ryan Johnson is a grad transfer from Tennessee at right guard.

“Big offensive line,” Kelly continued. “Those two guys in particular, and they've had many games where they put points on the board.”

Georgia Tech comes into the contest with a 2-4 record. Excluding the opener against Florida State and a 73-7 drubbing by Clemson, the Yellow Jackets are averaging more than 28 points per game, including a 46-point outburst against Louisville.

“Our defense will have to do a great job against a very talented combination at quarterback and running back, big physical offensive line, capable wide receivers that can make plays down the field and a team that certainly is coming home. It is an up-and-coming team that has got two quality wins against Florida State and Louisville.”

Collins’ background is a defensive coordinator, which was his role for both Mississippi State and Florida before two years as head coach at Temple prior to getting the Georgia Tech job.

“A 4-2-5 defense, playing a lot of players on defense, rotating in, keeping guys fresh, doing a really good job there,” Kelly said. “Coach knows what he’s doing there on the defensive side of the ball.”

Kelly singled out linebacker David Curry as “an outstanding player.”

“He’s all over the field, one of their top players,” Kelly continued. “He plays with great instincts, really like the way he plays, he’s all over the place.

Kelly also pointed to 6-foot-3, 220-pound Juanyeh Thomas and 6-foot-2, 226-pound Tariq Carpenter.

“Two big, physical safeties, great size and both corners are really instinctive,” he said, referring to Tre Swilling and Tobias Oliver. “I like their size, I like their savvy. Swilling has obviously got a great pedigree, coming from a former All-American. His dad (Pat Swilling) played there and in the NFL. Two really good corners there, two physical safeties.

“It should be a great football game and one that we need to continue to ascend and play at the level we played at last week against Pittsburgh.”

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