Notre Dame defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, a former assistant for the Falcons and the Georgia Bulldogs, stands with his players in action during a game between Notre Dame and Texas at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, IN. (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

Notre Dame defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, a former assistant for the Falcons and the Georgia Bulldogs, stands with his players in action during a game between Notre Dame and Texas at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, IN. (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

In the bullpen

Harrison Butker’s next field-goal attempt will be his first of the season. Of Tech’s 25 drives thus far, the Yellow Jackets have reached the end zone 19 times, fumbled the ball away twice, punted three times and took a knee to end the game once.

“Obviously, I would like to have some field goals under my belt, but that’s a good problem to have,” Butker said.

Without any 3-point tries, the author of two clutch field goals last season — the game-winner against Virginia Tech and the overtime-forcing make against Georgia — has tried to stay ready for the possibility of a pressure kick by doing visualization exercises before games. He also stays sharp by treating each extra point like a game-winning field-goal try. He said sometimes, extra points can be taken without much concentration, but “I’m trying to treat it like a pressure situation and (try) to hit the ball perfect down the middle.”

Butker is 18-for-18 on extra-point tries (he was not assessed a miss on the lone failed conversion try) and also is 18th in average kickoff distance (64.67 yards, about to the goal line) and 33rd in touchback percentage (61.9 percent).

Bobinski an alumnus and opponent

No one at Tech is more familiar with Notre Dame than athletic director Mike Bobinski, who graduated from the school in 1979 and later got his start in college athletics administration at his alma mater. Bobinski assures that he has zero ambivalence regarding his loyalties.

“My focus is on Georgia Tech,” he said.

As a student, Bobinski pitched for four seasons for the baseball team, starting for three seasons while battling arm trouble. He earned a degree in business administration, which he was able to later put to use working in the athletic department’s ticketing office.

As he’ll do Saturday, albeit this time as a visitor, attending football games was a significant part of his student experience. Notre Dame won the national championship in 1977 during his time

“It’s just what you did,” he said. “Nobody even had to ask, ‘Are you going to the game?’ It was assumed you were going to be at the game.”

One of those games, in fact, was the “Rudy” game in 1975. Bobinski said the movie, which culminates with underdog walk-on Dan “Rudy” Ruettiger sacking a Tech quarterback (Rudy Allen in real life), was “loosely based on a true story.” Asked if he was chanting “Rudy!” from the stands, Bobinski said, “I’m pretty certain I wasn’t doing that.”

Blocks on linebackers key

Tech pounded Tulane for 439 rushing yards Saturday — the Yellow Jackets’ 15th consecutive game with 250 rushing yards or more — but coaches were not enthused with the offensive line’s challenges in blocking linebackers. It likely will be even more of a trial Saturday, as the Fighting Irish boast perhaps the best linebacker in the country, Jaylon Smith. On his radio show, coach Paul Johnson said Smith might be the best defensive player Tech has faced in his tenure, no small compliment given the slew of All-Americans and first-round picks the Jackets have played in that time.

“I don’t know about for anybody else, but my challenge this week is making plays in space,” left tackle Bryan Chamberlain said. “That may be getting a linebacker in space or getting a safety in space, so that’s my key to the game this weekend.”

The linebacker- and safety-level blocks are often the ones that can turn a 5-yard run into a 50-yard gash. Those explosion or chunk plays, as they’re called, would be useful against a Notre Dame defense studded with NFL prospects that could be difficult to consistently move the ball against in small increments.

Studying up on Kizer

Tech coaches didn’t have much to go on, but were impressed by what they saw of Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer, the redshirt freshman who replaced starter Malik Zaire after his season-ending ankle injury Saturday against Virginia.

Defensive coordinator Ted Roof said that Kizer can move well in the pocket to keep plays alive, as attested by his game-winning 40-yard touchdown pass with 12 seconds left in the game.

“I don’t think the moment’s too big for him,” he said. “He’s done a good job, and we have our work cut out for us.”

The bigger worry may be wide receiver Will Fuller, who is averaging 22.2 yards per reception on 12 catches and “runs by everybody he plays on tape,” Roof said.

Expect Tech to mix coverages and blitzes against Notre Dame. Stopping the run is Roof’s first priority, but upsetting Kizer will be important, too.

Lots of time on the option

Notre Dame has made no small investment of time and effort into preparing for Tech’s spread-option offense. After a former assistant coach moved to an off-field role following last season, coach Brian Kelly gave him the assignment of studying Tech and Navy’s offenses and also past opponents to help develop an effective game plan. Kelly also recruited a walk-on quarterback who ran the option in high school to run the scout-team’s option offense, took personal charge of that scout team in the preseason and also began practicing against the defense in the preseason.

Notre Dame has reason to be wary. When Notre Dame played last season against Navy, coached by coach Paul Johnson’s former assistant Ken Niumatalolo, the Midshipmen gained 454 yards of offense in a 49-39 loss.

Kelly downplayed the benefit of having seen Navy last season.

“Each and every year certainly helps you, but the ACC sees Georgia Tech each year, and that doesn’t seem to help them much,” Kelly said. “They’re a difficult offense because of the players as well as (Johnson) has been doing it and seeing it and know what it looks like. Their efficiency and execution is outstanding.”

Opposing view

Al Lesar, columnist for the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune, answers three questions about the Fighting Irish.

Q: What’s your sense of how DeShone Kizer will be used?

A: Stepping in at quarterback for the injured Malik Zaire could be a daunting task, but the Irish offensive system will try to make the transition easy for the redshirt freshman. Heck, in June, he was No. 3 on the depth chart. Everett Golson was a graduate transfer to Florida State, and now Zaire is done.

At 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, Kizer is a power guy. Strong arm. His comfort zone is throwing to receiver Will Fuller, who caught the game-winner against Virginia last week. Look for him to be a popular target Saturday. Kizer will run, but likely not outside the tackles. He’s a power runner, who doesn’t have Zaire’s speed. He bulled his way up the middle for a first down on fourth-and-2 on that game-winning drive. Takes some confidence to do that.

Q: ACC teams that play Tech annually typically don’t stray too far from their defensive game plan. Do you suspect (defensive coordinator) Brian VanGorder will do likewise, or has the investment of time/energy in defending the spread option given coaches the ability to try something different?

A: Notre Dame has been studying the way it defends the triple-option all summer. Bob Elliott, a former secondary coach who is now a consultant, spent the entire summer researching different ways to defend it, comparing it to Notre Dame's normal approach. The media was allowed into five preseason practices. Each one of those had at least a few periods (five minutes per period) devoted to defending the option. The Irish have made a concerted effort to be ready for what the Yellow Jackets will bring.

Q: Where is Notre Dame strongest and most vulnerable?

A: Notre Dame's offensive line doesn't have any holes (it was weak at right guard last season). It has given up three sacks in two games, while rushing for 233.5 yards against Texas and Virginia. That should give Kizer some added confidence. Last week's escape from Virginia exposed problems in the Irish secondary. Corners KeiVarae Russell and Cole Luke, and safeties Max Redfield and Elijah Shumate, all are experienced and were expected to be a positive area of the defense. Virginia quarterback Matt Johns (26 of 38, 289 yards, 2 TDs) is hardly Justin Thomas, in terms of talent. The secondary will have quite a challenge Saturday.

The last time they met

Last game: Sept. 1, 2007, Notre Dame Stadium

Score: 33-3, Georgia Tech

Star of the game: Tech running back Tashard Choice ran for a then-career-high 196 yards in Tech's most decisive win over Notre Dame in the 34-game series.

Stats that matter: Tech sacked three Fighting Irish quarterbacks nine times. … With the sack yardage, Notre Dame rushed for minus-8 yards. … The game began Notre Dame's worst season in school history (3-9), which also included Navy and then-coach Paul Johnson ending its 43-game losing streak to the Irish.

Play of the game: On Notre Dame's fifth play of the game, Tech safety Jamal Lewis forced quarterback Demetrius Jones to fumble, which linebacker Philip Wheeler recovered at the Irish 33-yard line. A field goal gave Tech a 3-0 lead it never relinquished.

Quote from game: "I'll be honest with you, folks. I did not see this coming." — Tech coach Chan Gailey

Active big eight

The eight active power-conference coaches with the most career wins includes Saturday’s opposing coaches.

Coach, Current school; Seasons; Schools; Wins

Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech; 35; 2; 274

Steve Spurrier, South Carolina; 26; 3; 227

Brian Kelly, Notre Dame; 25; 4; 218

Bill Snyder, Kansas State; 24; 1; 189

Gary Pinkel, Missouri; 25; 2; 188

Nick Saban, Alabama; 20; 3; 184

Bob Stoops, Oklahoma; 17; 1; 170

Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech; 19; 3; 168

Ranked foes

Tech is 4-5 under coach Paul Johnson against teams ranked in the Associated Press top 10. Notre Dame is ranked No. 8.

Team (Rank); Site; Date; Result; Score

Mississippi State (7); Neut.; Dec. 31, 2014; W, 49-34

Florida State (4); Neut.; Dec. 6, 2014; L, 37-35

Georgia (9); Away; Nov. 29, 2014; W, 30-24 (OT)

Clemson (6); Away; Nov. 14, 2013; L, 55-31

Georgia (3); Away; Nov. 24, 2012; L, 42-10

Virginia Tech (10); Home; Nov. 10, 2011; L, 37-26

Clemson (6); Home; Oct. 29, 2011; W, 31-17

Iowa (10); Neut.; Jan. 5, 2010; L, 24-14

Virginia Tech (4); Home; Oct. 17, 2009; W, 28-23

By the numbers

245 Consecutive sellouts at Notre Dame Stadium, including Saturday's game, dating to the 1974 season

4 Teams that have not had a three-and-out this season — Tech, Ole Miss, Arkansas and Connecticut

134 Points that Tech has scored in its first two games, an ACC record