Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 24, 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 5 of 55

6 OCT. 24, 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI N otre Dame's run n in g game achieved a first in its 134-year his- tory during the 42-26 victory versus Florida State Oct. 10. It marked the fourth consecutive game that a different member of the backfield eclipsed 100 rushing yards. • Freshman Chris Tyree's 103 rush- ing yards on 11 carries were second in the contest to sophomore Kyren Williams' 185 on 19 attempts, but it was the first game in which Tyree achieved the century mark for the Fighting Irish, who moved up to No. 4 in the Associated Press poll. • In the previous game, a 52-0 romp versus South Florida, junior C'Bo Flemister did the honors with 127 yards on 13 attempts. • A week earlier in the 27-13 win against Duke, Williams' starting de- but saw him amass 112 rushing yards on 19 carries. • Last year 's season-ending 33-9 conquest of Iowa State in the Camp- ing World Bowl had graduated se- nior Tony Jones Jr. rush for 135 yards on 11 carries, highlighted by an 84- yard touchdown scamper on what has become the signature play dur- ing that four-game stretch: the out- side zone run. Is it merely a coincidence that those are the only four games that Tommy Rees has held the title of offensive coordinator and Lance Taylor run- game coordinator? "People would probably look at my background and think 'passing game,'" Rees said this spring of his time as the Notre Dame quarterback from 2010-13 in which his 61 career touchdown passes are second on the school's all-time chart (soon to be passed by current signal-caller Ian Book). "But I am a firm believer in running the football, and I am a firm believer in that you are only as good as you run it. "I truly believe in establishing the line of scrimmage. There's a toughness that comes with that. We're smart, and we have tough guys and the best damn coach in the country. We're strong up front, and I think we are going to be able to take advantage of that." It was no secret by the end of last year that disharmony within the ranks resulted in the December depar- ture of Chip Long, who had his own share of success as the Irish offensive coordinator from 2017-19, including a robust 269.5 rushing average his first season when top-10 NFL Draft picks Quenton Nelson and Mike Mc- Glinchey spearheaded a veteran line. For his part, head coach Brian Kelly repeatedly emphasizes the "collab- orative" efforts by the staff on offense this year that includes third-year line coach Jeff Quinn, tight ends coach John McNulty and wide receivers coach Del Alexander all sharing an esprit de corps. Quinn and McNulty have been college coordinators in the past, and the blocking of Alexander's receivers — especially fifth-year senior Javon McKinley — has been an essential element of their job description. IT STARTS UP FRONT The 114 career starts that returned along the 2020 offensive line, with all five starters plus reserve Josh Lugg, is a school record. All are "in line" to have future NFL careers, and they are augmented by willing and capable blocking tight ends with senior Brock Wright, junior Tommy Tremble and freshman Michael Mayer in "jumbo" packages. "There's five guys up front," Kelly said of where the running game suc- cess begins. "There's receivers block- ing for them. There's tight ends that are blocking for them. We got a lot of guys that are doing a lot of pretty good work for the backs." Augmenting that veteran experi- ence up front has been the emergence of the young but explosive tandem of Williams and Tyree in the backfield. Tyree became the first Rivals top- 100 running back to sign with Notre Dame in six years. Williams did not arrive with nearly the fanfare of Tyree, and he was redshirted last season after carrying only four times for 26 yards while adjusting to the college game and before reshaping his body with a much better commitment to nutrition and weight-room dedication. "It doesn't start until self-aware- ness and what you need to do," Kelly said of Williams' metamorphosis. "And I think it started with Kyren un- derstanding that he had to change the way he was living and how he was UNDER THE DOME TURNS OF THE CENTURY MARK A unique running game exploit was achieved in the victory versus Florida State Sophomore Kyren Williams (No. 23) and fresh- man Chris Tyree are the top rushers on the team, leading an Irish backfield that has seen four dif- ferent running backs eclipse 100 rushing yards in four consecutive games dating back to last year's bowl win. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Oct. 24, 2020