Another award watch list was released on Thursday, and another Notre Dame football player’s name showed up on that list. This time it’s Josh Adams for the Doak Walker Award, which honors college football’s best overall running back.
In its 27 years of existence, the Doak Walker Award has never been won by a Notre Dame player. Last year’s winner was Texas’ D’Onte Foreman, who the Irish faced in their 2016 season opener. Foreman went for 131 yards on 24 carries with a touchdown against the Irish, and had 2,028 yards and 15 touchdowns on the year.
You’d have to go all the way back to Montee Ball’s 2012 season to find a Doak Walker Award winner who didn’t surpass 2,000 yards. To my knowledge, Notre Dame has never had a 2,000 yard rusher. Even with the outstanding offensive line (more on that later) the Irish are returning, Adams will still have to split carries with at least Dexter Williams, if not Brandon Wimbush (if his number is called on the ground) and Tony Jones Jr.
The list, like most “watch lists”, is rather large. It includes Irish opponents Ryquell Armstead of the Temple Owls, Nick Chubb of the Georgia Bulldogs, Mark Waltin of the Miami Hurricanes, Jon Hillman of the Boston College Eagles, L.J. Scott of the Michigan State Spartans, Ronald Jones II of the USC Trojans and Bryce Love of the Stanford Cardinal.
Good luck, JA, and good luck Irish D.
Irish O-Line a Top Unit
No real news here for anyone that’s followed the team up to this point, but they’ve ranked the “top units” in the nation over at Sports on Earth. While deep down it’s just another fluffy and arbitrary “ranking” post, it’s a unique spin on one, at least.
Not usually are you ranking the effectiveness of say, an offensive line, with that of a linebacker or secondary group. In my mind, this is easy to do if no one has played a down and you’re simply prognosticating. However, bring this list back up at the end of the year and let’s try to see what stats we could adjust for each group to figure out just how good they are in comparison. And how many of these groups will go head-to-head?
Notre Dame’s offensive line, ranked 21st, will face off directly with Miami’s defensive line, ranked 11th, and NC State’s defensive line, ranked 9th. Additionally, the Irish face the 10th-ranked offensive backfield of Georgia, and the 24th-ranked defensive secondary of Stanford. I’m sure you’re looking forward to those exciting matchups.
Notre Dame vs. the SEC part infinity: Auburn?
While the Irish have added the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Arkansas Razorbacks to their future list of SEC foes, joining Georgia, the Vanderbilt Commodores and the Texas A&M Aggies, there’s another SEC school out there that wants to get in on the fun. Apparently, the Auburn Tigers are “continuing to work” on scheduling Notre Dame.
I’ve heard accounts that Jack Swarbrick and Auburn AD Jay Jacobs have a good working relationship, so I’d expect that this is more than just smoke with no fire. The article also mentions Swarbrick’s desire to add the Alabama Crimson Tide to the regular season schedule. That’s where my PTSD kicks in.
Tougher opponents are never bad for the Irish, as long as they can hang. They’ve ridden close losses to good teams to very good positions in the post season before, and were a last-second field goal away from a potential College Football Playoff berth in a season in which they dropped an overtime game at Clemson in 2015. That said, there can also be the adverse affect of your quarterback and head coach completely falling apart mentally after a last-second loss at Florida State, a la 2014.
The Irish will have plenty of marquee games against tough competition with the addition of SEC schools as well as Ohio State and Michigan for future schedules. Meanwhile, the B1G seems to think that games against FCS schools are tough enough. And you know, who’s to say they aren’t? Lookin’ at you, North Dakota State and Appalachian State. I think you know what I mean.