In 2016, Notre Dame will look to build on the success it had last year with the running game.
One encouraging thing we saw from Notre Dame football in 2015 was a commitment to the run game as the Irish averaged 207 yards per game. It was the first time ND reached the 200 YPG mark since the Lou Holtz era. The Irish almost had two 1,000 yards backs last year with C.J. Prosise (1,032) and Josh Adams (835). We should see that same type of commitment in 2016. The Irish will have two very good tailbacks in Adams and Tarean Folston. Because of the commitment to the run game and the talent they have at the position there is reason to believe that the Irish will have two 1,000 yard rushers.
As noted before, Adams almost ran for 1,000 yards last season as he tallied 835 yards at 7.1 yards per carry. He seems to be in line to be one of Notre Dame’s featured pieces on offense this upcoming season. Adams thrived last year as ND’s No.1 back late in the season after Prosise went down with injury. In Adams’ last five games he averaged 114 yards and scored three touchdowns. He looks to make an even bigger leap this season. If there was one back to put your money on to get 1,000 yards it would be Adams.
The other back that I would put my money on to reach the 1,000 yard mark would be Folston. He too almost eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark back in 2014 when he rushed for 889 yards. He is coming off a major knee injury, so who knows how much of a load he can carry this season. But most are expecting him to shoulder the load with Adams and if he can, he should have a good shot of getting 1,000 yards.
Another reason I think we could see Notre Dame getting two 1,000 yard rushers is the strong play we should see up front on the offensive line. They are losing two future NFL picks in Ronnie Stanley and Nick Martin, along with veteran Steve Elmer, but there is talent ready to step in. Offensive line coach Harry Hiestand is one of the best in the country and there is no reason to believe that the Irish won’t have another strong offensive line in 2016.
There are two factors that could hinder from this accomplishment from happening and that is Dexter Williams and whoever is at quarterback. Williams turned heads this spring with his ability and willingness to go between the tackles for tough yards. His strong play this spring could potentially help him take some carries away from Adams and Folston. Also both quarterback candidates, DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire, are both mobile and both known to get yards themselves on the ground. This too could also potentially take chances from Adams and Folston.
That being said, I don’t think Williams and or the quarterback position will steal enough carries from Adams and Folston to prevent them from both reaching 1,000. I really think with Brian Kelly’s newfound commitment to the run game we will see two 1,000 yard rushers. Every championship team is built on a strong ground attack and the Irish sure have the horses up front on the o-line and in the backfield to do that.