Instant Observations: No. 4 Notre Dame takes care of Georgia Tech, 31-13

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

Quick hitters from Saturday's game that saw No. 4 Notre Dame move to 6-0 overall, 5-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference...

• Bring on No. 1 Clemson. Nothing more needs to be said, but a lot will be the next six days.

• Covering college football in an open-air press box is just different. Everything about it. A cool breeze aside, it's a cool way to spend a fall day. Anywhere. But the media being the media, we'd find something to complain about. It's just enjoyable. Chilly at times, but enjoyable.

• Saturday's crowd of 11,000 was the largest crowd to see the Irish play in person this season. Bobby Dodd Stadium holds 55,000, so it was right at 20 percent capacity.

• The Irish led 17-7 at intermission, but it felt a whole lot more lopsided, like, 27-0. Notre Dame just kind of controlled everything — the clock, their emotions, the first two quarters.

• Once expected to be the first-string running back this season, Jafar Armstrong took some warmups snaps at wide receiver. From a possible main guy to anything he can do to get on the field. The way Kyren Williams and Chris Tyree run, Armstrong's running back days are effectively over.

• Third-down security blankets for Book? Michael Mayer and Javon McKinley. Book it.

• Total yards in the first half — Notre Dame 240, Georgia Tech 66. That shouldn't happen. Not on the road. But it does.

• Consider tight end Tommy Tremble as a sixth offensive lineman. He's bought all in on blocking, another aspect that will make him intriguing at the next level.

• This one flipped in a hurry as the Irish looked to be headed to a 14-0 lead. Then a Williams fumble, a Zamari Walton return for a touchdown and it was 7-7. It was the longest fumble return in Tech history. It also was fumble No. 2 by the Irish running backs the first 23 plays.

• The more Williams plays, the more you see his God-given ability to run the ball. He made one run in the second half that looked like it was going nowhere. Instead, he spied a hole that seemingly wasn't there and picked up nine yards. Can't coach or teach that.

• A forgotten guy since the opener against Duke, Joe Wilkins Jr., caught his first touchdown to start the day, which also capped a 15-play, 81-yard drive that was about as methodical as methodical can be. A penalty and a fumble and a couple third downs didn't really bother the Irish all that much. Neither did the Tech defense as Book completed all seven of his passes. Crisp and clean.

• It was more of the same early for the Irish defense, which allowed the Yellow Jackets all of six yards on six plays in their opening drive, which ended in a punt. Defensive end Daelin Hayes was everywhere on that drive, even if he did miss a sure tackle off a screen play. Knocked to the ground late in the first half, Hayes stayed down for a beat, then decided to knock out a couple pushups before getting back to the huddle.

•Hayes' first sack and subsequent strip of the ball flipped the entire game around. It looked like the Yellow Jackets were going in to make it 17-14. Instead, the Irish recovered the fumble, drove down and scored to make it 24-7. game-changer.

• First targeting call of the year against Notre Dame goes to buck linebacker Marist Liufau, who was ejected late in the third quarter. It was an easy call. Liufau will miss the first half of Saturday's game against Clemson.

• The Irish might have to spend a few more practice periods on how to better prepare for on-side kicks.

• While the college football world was set on its ear early Saturday afternoon with a certain top-ranked team missing a certain top player on the ropes to a certain former Irish quarterback, Notre Dame announced about 90 minutes before kick in Atlanta that no Irish would miss Saturday's game for COVID-related issues. The only player ruled out was wide receiver Braden Lenzy, who's sidelined for at least the next two weeks with a hamstring injury.

• Anyone have a Trevor Lawrence update? Kidding. Surprised that the news of him being out for Notre Dame didn't break Twitter when it broke around halftime of the Notre Dame game. Look on the bright side, maybe he'll be around for Clemson-Notre Dame II in Charlotte. Maybe.

Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams (23) celebrates with teammates after he scored during the first half of Saturday's game at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta.