Irish Running Backs vs. USC Linebacker Cameron Smith
The Irish running game has had an up and down season this year, but has steadily improved as the season has progressed. A large part of this success has been the big play ability of Dexter Williams and supporting roles Jafar Armstrong and Tony Jones Jr. have played.
The running game for the Notre Dame has a great opportunity in front of them this week after the Trojans were gashed on the ground a week ago. Though it is up to the offensive line to get to the second level and block linebackers, the countless times running backs meet linebackers in one-on-one situations make the matchup important for both teams.
Senior linebacker Cameron Smith is the epitome of an inside linebacker. After a 112-tackle, 11-tackle-for-loss performance last season, Smith earned All-PAC 12 honors in 2017. Smith’s return for his senior year was somewhat surprising as many saw him as one of the better inside linebacker NFL prospects. Regardless, he is this team’s defensive leader that is a tackling machine.
At 6-2, 250 pounds, Smith is a wrecking ball between the tackles. In 2018, he’s recorded 69 tackles with 5.5 for loss. There’s no doubt that he can cause problems between the tackles for the Irish run game. Notre Dame’s running backs will need to use their athleticism and take advantage of opportunities they have in space to get away from Smith and pick up nice chunk plays on the ground.
No matter the score Saturday night, you will hear Smith’s name called on multiple occasions. It will be up to the Irish backfield to keep Smith from being a thorn in the ground game all night long.