When No. 13 Notre Dame faces 11. USC on Saturday night, it will be a chance for one of the country’s top running backs to showcase himself once more.
Josh Adams has been a key to the Fighting Irish’s four-game winning streak, a streak during which they have averaged 43 points a contest. It’s been a great season for the junior as he’s picked up an eye-popping nine yards a carry thus far this year. Despite an injury that has slowed him down in a couple of games and a poor showing against Georgia, Adams has rounded himself into a significant weapon for Brian Kelly’s offense.
But a strong running game begins with a strong offensive line.
Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Martin have enjoyed improved play during the win streak and have been slotted by some mock drafts as top five picks in the spring. For Adams, he feels that there’s another gear for the offense and another step they can take to continue to get better, and also knows that his line has played a big part in his success.
I think as an offense… I think we know we can do more. I think we have the guys that want to do more. We’re never just satisfied with where we’re at…Anybody can run the ball, especially behind this fantastic offensive line.
As for USC, they have gotten better against the run after a rough start where they gave up 263 and 170 to Western Michigan and Stanford to open the season. They allowed an average of just over 106.2 yards in their next four games, and while Utah gained 169 yards last week, they did it on 41 carries. Still, the Trojans are 57th in FBS against the run.
USC coach Clay Helton recognized that stopping Adams will be important if they are to leave South Bend with a win, and that with the Irish clicking in that area means everything doesn’t rest on the shoulders of the passing attack.
[Brian Kelly] knows he has an unbelievable offensive line and a terrific running back. So, he’s really married up where they were kind of more pass game last year, he knows their strength is that running game and he’s leaning on it.
It’s not just Adams. Quarterback Brandon Wimbush, who has also been hampered by injury but is expected to play on Saturday night, has showcased his dual threat tendencies throughout the year. Sophomore Deon McIntosh had a strong 2-touchdown showing against North Carolina last Saturday alongside Adams.
This is a pivotal game for Notre Dame if they are to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive. And with another critical matchup against a much-improved No. 16 NC State looming, they will need to take of business against the Trojans first.
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