With the Notre Dame Fighting Irish’s running back position already thin, head coach Brian Kelly moved receiver C.J. Prosise to the backfield to help during the spring. All though he wasn’t expected to play that much as a running back, it was mainly as a backup plan – Prosise was one of the stars of spring practice.
Behind Tarean Folston and Greg Bryant, at best Prosise was still going to be the third option, and still play on the outside regularly. But when Bryant was ruled academically ineligible for the season, later leaving the school, Prosise looked to become a permanent fixture in the backfield.
After rushing for 889 yards as a sophomore, Folston was looking again to be the team’s top back, but after just three carries in the opener against Texas, he would leave the game with a knee injury. He would not return, and was later seen on the sideline on crutches.
Tarean Folston has returned to the ND bench, on crutches and in street clothes. He left in the first quarter with a right knee injury.
— Observer Sports (@ObserverSports) September 6, 2015
So a year after being one of the team’s receivers, Prosise now found himself as the go-to guy in the backfield.
C.J. Prosise Answers Bell After Folston Injury
Running with a violent style you may not have expected out of a former wide receiver, the senior used every bit of his 6’0”, 220 pound frame and lowered it into the Longhorn defense. When it was all said and done, Prosise ran for 98 yards on 20 tough carries.
As every good power back does, Prosise ran stronger as the game went on – running for over 60 yards on his nine second half carriers. The Petersburg, VA native was averaging less than three yards per carry at half-time.
No update has been given on Folston, but it didn’t look good. With the Irish breaking in Malik Zaire as a first year starter, Kelly was hoping to lean on the running game to get his quarterback acclimated in the role (didn’t look like he needed to against Texas). If Folston is out for an extended period of time, it will be Prosise the Irish will look to lean on.
Not the worst of starts for a guy who just picked up being a running back a few months ago.
Great Debut For Freshman Running Back
Notre Dame had their fare share of freshman that could have made an impact in the opener and running back Josh Adams wasn’t one of the ones that came to mind. But with Folston down, that slid Adams up on the depth chart, and the Warrington, PA native responded by scoring twice – including the very first time he touched the ball.
After taking the ball, Adams cut up field to elude a defender before turning on the afterburners and heading straight into the endzone from 14 yards out.
He ended the night with 49 yards on five carries – including the two scores. He became the first freshman running back to run for two touchdowns in a game since Darius Walker did so in 2004
With Folston out, Adams now slides into the backup role and could see a much more expanded role that was not previously expected.
Dexter Williams got some mop up duty after the Irish were possibly looking to redshirt him. Williams finished with seven carries for 24 yards.
Notre Dame used their tight ends in a way that hasn’t become what most are use to. Although Troy Niklas was drafted mainly due to his blocking ability, when you think Notre Dame tight ends you think of the receiving Tyler Eifert, Kyle Rudolph and Jon Carlson.
Some of the more successful running plays were set up by deploying two tight end’s double stacked next to the tackle. Both Durham Smythe and Tyler Luatua were used mostly as blockers, although the former caught a ball and was targeted one other time, helping the Irish run for over 200 yards as a team.