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Notre Dame could have two 1,000 yard rushers in 2016

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The talk around the water cooler concerning the Notre Dame Fighting Irish offense has been almost 99-percent dedicated to the quarterback battle. Will head coach Brian Kelly go with Malik Zaire, who lost his starting position due to a broken ankle injury in the second game last year, or DeShone Kizer, who played well as a freshman last season for the Irish.

Although it is fun to talk about quarterback battles, there are other things to talk about concerning this Notre Dame offense. In fact, this quarterback dilemma has overshadowed the possibility that the Irish may produce a pair of 1,000 yard rushers by the end of the 2016 season.

Former starter C.J. Prosise opted for the NFL after playing his one and only season as a collegiate running back. And it was no surprise why. In his lone season as a running back, as he started his Notre Dame career as a wide receiver, Prosise rushed 1,032 yards and 11 touchdowns on only 156 carries. But despite Prosise leaving for the pros early, the Irish return two talented running backs in sophomore Josh Adams and junior Tarean Folston.

Originally, Prosise wasn't the first choice at running back. In fact, Folston was originally "Plan A" out of the backfield. However, it only took little over a half of football for that plan to change.

Folston entered the 2015 season as the Irish's leading, returning rusher after he tallied 899 yards and six touchdowns. But in the opening game against the Texas Longhorns last year, Folston tore his ACL after making a routine cut back on run.

With that injury to Folston, that opened the door for Prosise. However, late last year, Prosise started feeling the injury bug. With that, it opened the door for then-true freshman Josh Adams to see the field. And Adams captured the opportunity in front of him.

Adams came on strong last year. In the last five games, Adams totaled 570 yards on the ground and scored three touchdowns. Altogether, Adams finished his freshman year with 835 yards and six touchdowns. And he did that on 117 carries, which gave Adams a 7.1 yards per carry average.

Now Folston did not practice with the team this Spring, but is expected to be ready for the season opener at Texas on Sept. 4.

A healthy Folston and a now experienced Adams give the Irish hope to produce a pair of 1,000 yard rushers in 2016.

The two talented running backs compliment each other quite well.

Adams is 6-foot-1 and Folston is 5-foot-9, but they both fall in the 215-220 weight range. Folston possesses shiftiness and speed out of the backfield which is expected out of a player his size. While Adams is a north and south type back that can hit a second gear in open space--which was put on display when he exploded for 98 yard touchdown run against Wake Forest last year.

Both backs certainly do possess the talent to each produce 1,000 yards on their own, but they will also benefit from running behind one of the best offensive lines in all of college football. In fact, Pro Football Focus named the Irish offensive line the best line in college football in 2016. And Notre Dame just lost talented tackle Ronnie Stanley and center Nick Martin along the line, so the 2016 unit could be a dominant force and allow Folston and Adams to top 1,000 yards each.

The dominant line isn't the only factor that could allow Folston and Adams to become 1,000 duo. Looking at the Irish's schedule this upcoming season, the teams they play this year that were good against the run last season have lost a ton of talent.

This upcoming college football season, Notre Dame will face four teams that had top-50 rush defenses and two teams barely out of the top-50 in: Michigan State, Navy, Duke, North Carolina State, Stanford and USC. However, each of those six teams lose at least six or more starters from their defenses a year ago. So, these strong run defenses a year ago could digress and could benefit Folston and Adams' chances to top 1,000 yards each.

Now the likelihood of Notre Dame producing a pair of 1,000 yard rushers is extremely rare. But it doesn't mean it couldn't happen. Just take of the look of the 2014 Arkansas Razorbacks. They had did it with Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams and they faced SEC defenses. So never say never on the Irish's possibility of doing so, especially with backs like Folston and Adams leading the way.