Junior running back Josh Adams is having an outstanding season, leading many Notre Dame Fighting Irish fans — including this site — to suggest he’s worthy of national accolades.
Adams was named to Sports Illustrated’s Midseason All-America Second Team on Tuesday, passed over for first team honors by two running backs having remarkable seasons: Stanford Cardinal’s Bryce Love and Penn State Nittany Lions’ Saquon Barkley.
Here are five tweets that help make the case that Adams belongs in the conversation of the greatest backs this year.
#5: JOSH ADAMS HAS MADE THE MOST OF LIMITED TIME
Josh Adams ranks 6th in the FBS in rushing w/ 776 yds, despite the fact that he's not played in 8 quarters (33% of season)...#BertschyBits— Michael Bertsch (@NDsidBertschy) October 11, 2017
Adams and the Irish were on bye Saturday, so he now ranks 10th in the FBS with 776 yards. Michael Bertsch, the sports information director for Notre Dame football, makes a valid point: Total rushing yards are an imperfect metric to gauge a running back’s effectiveness because it doesn’t take into account actual opportunity.
Adams’ 86 carries are by far the fewest among the top 10 running backs. Love has 135 carries. The second and fourth sports are occupied by the Hawaii Warriors’ Dicoemy Saint Juste and the Navy Midshipmen’s Zach Abey, who both have 183 carries. Phillip Lindsay, of the Colorado Buffaloes, is fifth in total rushing this year. He has 178 carries.
Adams’ workload so far is more akin to the Alabama Crimson Tide’s quarterback, Jalen Hurts. He has 79 rushes...for 218 fewer yards than Adams does.
Unfair to compare to a quarterback? OK. The UNLV Rebels’ Lexington Thomas has 60 fewer yards on 10 more carries.
Unfair to compare to a Group of 5 player? OK. Justin Crawford of the West Virginia Mountaineers has eight more carries this year and 167 fewer yards.
#4 JOSH ADAMS IS HAVING A BETTER STATISTICAL SEASON THAN SAQUON BARKLEY*
By these cherry-picked metrics, Adams is a more explosive and more efficient runner than Barkley.
Now let’s give Barkley his credit.
- Barkley has six rushing touchdowns to Adams’ five.
- Barkley has 29 receptions for 395 yards, a 13.6 yard per catch average, and two receiving touchdowns. Adams has nine catches for 84 yards, a 9.3 yard per catch average and has not scored on a catch.
- Barkley has a 258 kick return yards, including a 98-yard return for a touchdown, on eight attempts. Adams does not return kicks.
- Barkley has thrown a 16-yard touchdown pass. Adams has not attempted a pass.
#3 BARKLEY AND LOVE ARE RUNNING WILD ON TERRIBLE RUSHING DEFENSES
Interesting stat I came across today while looking at Saquon Barkley vs. Bryce Love. Both have played just one top 30 defense: pic.twitter.com/GfA36YinX2— Chantel Jennings (@ChantelJennings) October 17, 2017
Bryce Love ran for 301 yards, averaged 12 yards a carry and scored three touchdowns against the Arizona State Sun Devils, who rank among the worst rush defenses.
Saquon Barkley exploded for 172 yards, averaged 12.3 yards a carry and scored two touchdowns against the Akron Zips, who boast a pedestrian 85th best rush defense (in terms of yards/rush). Barkley ran for just 75 yards against the Northwestern Wildcats, who have a much more stout defense. His real test is this weekend against the Michigan Wolverines, who have an elite rush defense.
#2 OK, JOSH ADAMS IS DOING THAT TOO
Adams had his worst statistical outputs against the Georgia Bulldogs and Michigan State Spartans, who are the only two rush defenses worth mentioning. He racked up 229 yards and a 12.7 yards per rush average against the Boston College Eagles, who are as bad as the aforementioned Sun Devils in terms of rush defense.
#1 JOSH ADAMS MAXIMIZES HIS GAINS
Most breakaway yards since 2014:— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) October 17, 2017
'14 Melvin Gordon- 1325
'14 Tevin Coleman- 1156
'15 Dalvin Cook- 1066
'17 Bryce Love- 1018 (7 games) pic.twitter.com/9FlQspdicO
Ranked by breakaway yards/rush...— Michael Bertsch (@NDsidBertschy) October 17, 2017
*Adams hasn’t played in 8 quarters https://t.co/jXQNbtFDzu
Josh Adams has 10 runs of 15 yards or more, which pales in comparison to Love’s 24. When Adams hits 15 yards on a run, he’s most likely not going to be stopped for another 35 or so yards (if then). His 51.9 yards per breakaway rush is better than Love’s 42.4 yards.
If Adams has a 160-yard, two touchdown game against the USC Trojans, who are ranked 61st in rush defense, the clamor from Irish fans will surely intensify.
I will be far more interested in what he does against the N.C. State Wolfpack the following week, since they sport the seventh best rush defense in the nation. This is Adams’ Achilles heel. He hasn’t played remarkably against stout rush defenses.
If Irish fans want Adams to be considered for myriad postseason accolades — including the Heisman trophy — he needs outstanding performances for the remainder of the season. And he also needs Barkley and Love to be a little less impressive.
* I hate when headlines say “in five tweets” and the actual posts contains six tweets. I just included @PFF_College’s tweet so that context for Bertsch’s stat could be understood.