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Notre Dame Football: The Running Back Rotation Is Here To Stay

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Notre Dame’s ground game carved Temple’s D to the tune of 422 yards, and it was fantastic.

Temple v Notre Dame Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Following a fantastic season opener for the Irish, Brian Kelly’s Sunday Presser provided some clarity and immediate takeaways from Saturday’s game. Let’s get right into it.

The Irish Backfield’s Three Headed Monster

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish opened the season this past Saturday, in case you missed it. In fact, they opened with a win. I could get used to those.

In that win, the Irish tore apart a Temple defense by putting up an impressive 422 rushing yards. It was the first game in which the Irish had put up that many yards on the ground since 2015 - in Brandon Wimbush’s freshman debut, coincidentally - against the UMass Minutemen.

This was in large part due to the exemplary play of Dexter Williams, Josh Adams, and Brandon Wimbush on the ground. Each of these three put up over 100 yards apiece. However, it was the rotation at running back that continues to be a main focus for the Irish offense, despite Tony Jones having a less impressive day than his two counterparts. This rotation did a great job of keeping the running backs fresh and well rested so that they could continue to rip off long runs on the Owls.

NCAA Football: Temple at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

According to Brian Kelly, this is a rotation that Irish fans will continue to see all season long, and I don’t know about you but that’s music to my ears.

Kelly stated in his Sunday presser that the rotation deployed against Temple will continue to start with this team’s most consistent back in Josh Adams, but that “all three of them are going to get a chance to contribute to the run game.” If Saturday was any indication, the ground game is the key to making this offense fire on all cylinders. After many fans calling for Kelly to #RTDB last year, it seems that the message came through loud and clear.

Let’s hope it stays that way.

Other Takeaways:

  • Micah Dew-Treadway is expected back for Week 2’s game against Georgia. This looks to be a physical match-up that will inevitably wear both teams down, so any added depth is a plus for the Irish.
  • Kelly lauded the physicality and efficiency of his team this past weekend. With some small errors cleaned up, games like that are sure to make everyone around the program happy.
  • Brian Kelly commented on Kizer’s upcoming season-opening start in Cleveland, “In a very short period of time he's gotten himself into a great position to be the starting quarterback. We're thrilled for DeShone. We're big fans. Hopefully he's surrounded with guys that can get Cleveland back into championship caliber.”
  • Additionally on Deshone, he said, “Look, there's going to be some good days and bad days. Just keep fighting through it. On the other side of it, there's going to be some great success. I think he's definitely somebody that will be able to get through those tough times.”
  • Kelly acknowledged the ability that Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm possesses, but added that it will ultimately come down to Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.
  • The offense’s play calling is handled by Chip Long, if there were any doubts left about that. Kelly makes recommendations, but focuses more on the big picture scheme while Long calls the plays to fit with the aforementioned scheme.
  • Robert Hainsey and Tommy Kraemer will continue to rotate for the time being, but that situation is still up to evaluation.
  • Durham Smythe went through the team's concussion protocol, and showed no symptoms indicative of a concussion. That’s definitely encouraging for the Irish offense which looks to run a plethora of multiple tight end sets this year under Chip Long's direction.