The formula for beating Notre Dame this season has not been a secret. Stop the Fighting Irish on the ground, and you have a chance.
That has been much easier said that done.
In Notre Dame’s only loss of the season, against Georgia in Week 2, the Irish were held to just 55 yards rushing. In their eight wins this season, they have averaged 358.5 rushing yards per game.
This week’s opponent, Miami, hasn’t exactly shut down opponents’ rushing attacks, allowing an average of 170 yards per game on the ground. However, against Virginia Tech last week, Miami stymied the Hokies, limiting them to 102 rushing yards on 43 carries — less than 2.5 yards per attempt.
In his Wednesday teleconference, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was asked about the challenge posed by Miami’s defensive front for star running back Josh Adams and the rest of the Irish rushing attack.
Kelly said that, more important than what defense the team is facing, the key for Notre Dame’s rushing attack will be keeping Adams in the game.
“First of all, Josh has got to play,” Kelly said. “He only had five carries last week, so getting him into the game, getting him comfortable into the game is going to be really, really important for us.”
Last week, in Notre Dame’s 48-37 win over Wake Forest, Adams carried the ball just five times for 22 yards. Kelly said after the game that he was not injured, he just didn’t “feel right.” However, throughout this week, Kelly has insisted Adams feels fine and that he will play against the Hurricanes.
Kelly tipped his cap to the Miami defense, saying creating room for Adams to run will be a challenge against the Hurricanes. However, Kelly pointed out that Miami’s defense is no better against the run than some of the teams the Irish have faced this season. He specifically mentioned N.C. State and Georgia.
Against the Wolfpack, the Irish ran for over 300 yards and won by 21 points. Of course, against the Bulldogs, Notre Dame couldn’t establish its ground game and lost.
Kelly’s point: No matter who Notre Dame plays, the Irish will run the ball. Whether it works or not will likely determine the game’s outcome. That’s why having Heisman Trophy-contender Adams in the lineup will be key against Miami.
“That’s who we are,” Kelly said. “We’ve got to be able to run the ball and get Adams going.”
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