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Notre Dame Football: Expectations for the Backfield in 2017

Notre Dame’s trio at running back looks extremely promising for the 2017-2018 season.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame Spring Game
Tony Jones Jr. made his presence known during the annual Blue-Gold game this past spring.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

One of the many things you hear fans of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish constantly yell at the television is the classic motto “R.T.D.B.”. This, of course, stands for “run the damn ball” and is something you hear many Irish fans shout from the rooftops over the course of the college football season. The Fighting Irish have failed to have both a consistent and an effective ground game for several years now, which many fans point to as a reason for the team’s shortcomings. Time and time again it seems to ring true, as teams with a strong rushing attack reign supreme in the collegiate football landscape.

Well, this may be the year that Irish fan’s can finally rejoice. This Notre Dame team has three running backs that each exhibit the potential to be very good - if not great - contributors throughout this upcoming fall. This, in combination with Chip Long’s seemingly effective RPO attack, gives fans something to be ecstatic about. Fans’ expectations have good reason to be through the roof.

Notre Dame v Syracuse Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

While the aforementioned RPO offensive system that Chip Long brings to Notre Dame seems to be a potent scheme, it must be stated that Long’s experience as an offensive coordinator is limited. For this reason, expectations should be controlled.

With that said, there is so much to like about this backfield. Josh Adams presents a consistent presence as a guy with the vision and quickness to pick up 5+ yards on every play. Dexter Williams, however, is more inconsistent; rather, he acts as a home run threat who can make a man miss and take it to the house on any given play. And finally there’s Tony Jones Jr., who is a more powerful back than the other two that’s also dangerous out of the backfield. It’s a perfect complementary combination of running backs that gives the defense too many things to worry about, and it would be impossible to account for everything.

Keeping all of that in mind, I expect this backfield to produce just over 2,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in total. This is slightly more than Adams and Prosise produced in 2015 (1,867 yards, 29 touchdowns). With the new scheme, and an embarrassment of riches at running back, I feel like it’s impossible that this Notre Dame team fails to capitalize on such a great opportunity.

Ideally, with an effective running game and an efficient aerial attack, this Irish offense should be a force to be reckoned with. If that occurs - and the defense gets it act together under Mike Elko - then the sky’s the limit. How well do you think Notre Dame’s ground game will do in 2017?


What should expectations be for Notre Dame’s ground game in 2017?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    2500+ yards, 35+ touchdowns
    (265 votes)
  • 33%
    2000 yards, 30 touchdowns
    (313 votes)
  • 17%
    1800 yards, 25 touchdowns
    (169 votes)
  • 2%
    1500 yards, 20 touchdowns
    (25 votes)
  • 17%
    If Kelly won’t run the ball in a hurricane, we have no chance to surpass any of these expectations!
    (167 votes)
939 votes total Vote Now