Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 9, 2015 Issue

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

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Page 29 of 118

BY LOU SOMOGYI A frequent criticism of Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly by Fighting Irish followers dur- ing his first five seasons was "he gives up too easily on the run" because he is "pass happy." With 200 yards rushing per game generally the barometer of strong rush- ing seasons, Kelly's teams averaged only 144 yards rushing in the four sea- sons when the Fighting Irish lost four or five games. One of the ironies of the Kelly era is the running game has been at the fore- front the most when there is an inex- perienced quarterback at the helm and Notre Dame is "forced" to lean on the ground attack. • When freshman Tommy Rees had to take over the final four games in 2010, the offense went to a more physi- cal, double-tight-end set (with Tyler Eifert and Mike Ragone) for the first time under Kelly to emphasize the run, and Notre Dame finished 4-0. • In 2012, sophomore Everett Gol- son mainly managed the game, while the Irish posted more than 200 yards rushing in a regular season for the first time in 12 years — and finished 12-0. A two-tight-end system was the base with Eifert, plus Troy Niklas starting next to him eight times. • In last year 's Music City Bowl, sophomore quarterback Malik Zaire received his first career start, requiring the Irish to go to a more power and zone-read look. Against an upper-tier defense, Notre Dame rushed for 263 yards and 5.2 yards per carry in that 31-28 victory. • This year with sophomore signal- MAKING A RUN A strong ground game is a top requirement to contend for a national title

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