Though the offensive issues in South Bend are likely the best-documented, the special teams trouble including two missed field goals by Harrison Butker is an equally worrisome development. When asked about this frustrating inconsistency in the kicking game by a reporter on Wednesday, coach Paul Johnson responded with one of the deepest, most emotionally-charged responses you can hope to get from a man of his personality: "Just go kick the ball." I certainly can't say that this is bad advice by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm not sure what it really solves either. It seems like Butker has probably been "just kicking the ball" for roughly three years now. I still have confidence in him, but his struggles from close range have been perplexing to say the least.
In the absence of veteran wide receiver Micheal Summers, true freshman Brad Stewart will be expected to step up and make his first career start for the Jackets in what will be just his fourth college game. Stewart, a late addition to the 2015 recruiting class, has shown some flashes of brilliance during his limited playing time so far this season. Though his only catch versus Notre Dame was a late-game touchdown which would be reversed and called an incomplete pass, his other showings versus Tulane and Alcorn State have been more than encouraging. It hurts to lose Micheal Summers so early, but I think Brad Stewart is equipped to fill the void as well as anyone.
While Notre Dame and Duke are hardly comparable in terms of defensive talent, it is important to remember that the Jackets will not be going up against any old Blue Devil run defense this weekend in Durham -- Duke features a much improved defensive front this season compared to last season. Most people seem to have written off the Blue Devils for the most part in this game, but that is just about as unwise as predicting a win in South Bend. Though the venues are obviously nowhere near the same, the concept that neither team will just roll over at home still stands. Duke and its defense could give Tech's offense another rough day if we aren't careful.
Today is Thursday and that means that today is also Georgia Tech hype video day! Man, we really need to get this win at Duke...
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Are you afraid that Duke could do to Georgia Tech exactly what Notre Dame did next week?