Notre Dame knows how to close the deal against Georgia football

(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will visit with Georgia football this weekend. It will be all business, and Brian Kelly knows how to close the deal.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly wants to see the Irish version of Road Warrior’s at Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium this weekend.

Kelly even risked injury with a by-week scrimmage two weekends ago to get Notre Dame prepped for the 2019 edition of Georgia football, and his team has picked up a little attitude.

“Teams are very scared of our pass rush, so a lot of times they don’t give us a lot of drop-back opportunities,” Irish defender Daelin Hayes said. “They’re getting the ball out quick, speed option, hard count — anything they can really do to try to neutralize our pass rush.”

Maybe they’ve picked up too much attitude as Notre Dame ranks 87th in sacks. Irish pass rushers Julian Okwara, Khalid Kareem, and Hayes will have to back up their bold talk better than they have so far this season against opponents far inferior to Georgia.

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Still, Kelly believes he has a national championship caliber talent. He also knows Notre Dame on the road.

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The Irish are 2-4 on the road against top -10 teams during the Kelly era, with both wins coming long ago in 2012 against number 10 ranked Michigan State and number 8 ranked Oklahoma.

That makes this trip to Athens bigger than a mere top-ten matchup.

Kelly knows what he needs to close the deal: something special from his offense.

“You’re not going to beat Georgia by just three yards here, four yards,” Kelly said in a teleconference. “You’re going to have to make some explosive plays. We needed to see that happen.”

Can the Irish cream Georgia’s offense?

As for the Bulldog offense, Kelly no doubt sees an opportunity for his defense to be a difference maker.

You can bet he’ll bring extra in his pass rush to hurry Jake Fromm. He’ll stack the box to stop D’Andre Swift. To do this, he will count on his talented secondary to squash Georgia’s youthful wide receivers, and that’s where this football war between top-ten teams will play out.

With Tyler Simmons and Demetris Robertson banged up and Kearis Jackson sidelined, this game, like the season, will fall to pass catching pups George Pickens and Dominick Blaylock. Both, like the Irish defensive front, will need to play at a higher level than they have so far against inferior competition.

“All people see is the catches,” Smart said of Pickens specifically. “You don’t see what he does when he doesn’t have the ball or when he has a busted route. He had several things today that he didn’t do right, so he has a lot of improving to do.”

The young Georgia receivers need to transform themselves from playful pups to Frisbee catching – grown man blocking dogs this week.

“You’re not going to beat Georgia by just three yards here, four yards.”

Familiar Irish tune

Kelly’s words may sound familiar to Georgia football fans.

[Notre Dame football] is like being on Broadway—it’s a Broadway show. You’re on stage every game you play, it’s on national TV,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “They don’t see it as pressure; they see it as a privilege.”

The lights are bright on Broadway, and maybe Kelly was referencing Dawg fan’s famed 2017 light up of South Bend. Maybe he’s got a little attitude about a game he feels he should have won.

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In any case, it’s the biggest game of the 2019 season for both teams. The outcome will decide which team has a bigger game in November.

Keep an eye on the Irish pass rush and the Georgia wide receivers. If the Dawgs win those two battles, the war will go to the men in red.