If the Notre Dame football team wants to return to the College Football Playoff, one area they will need to improve is their run defense. Here are the top five running backs the Irish defense will face during the 2020 season.
Notre Dame football’s defense did an exceptional job defending the pass in 2019. Their run defense, however, was pretty average. That will surely be an area of focus for Clark Lea and his staff this offseason.
The Irish defense allowed 3.9 yards per rush attempt last season. On paper, that might seem like a good average, but it was actually the 55th best average in the country.
In power success rate, which is the percentage of times an opponent successfully runs for a first down or touchdown on third/fourth down and short, the Irish defense ranked 53rd. In short-yardage, Notre Dame’s 2019 opponents were able to successfully run the ball 70.4 percent of the time.
The Irish will need to replace some key starters from last year’s defense if they want to do a better job of defending the run. They lost both of their starting defensive ends, a starting linebacker, and both of their starting safeties.
Fortunately, Notre Dame already had some quality depth at both defensive end and linebacker. They were also able to add an experienced strong safety in Isaiah Pryor via the transfer portal.
I do not know for certain if we will see an improved run defense from the Irish in 2020. However, I would not bet against Clark Lea and his staff.