SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame tailback Josh Adams has tried to help set the tone in practice for the Fighting Irish as they prepare to face Duke following a disappointing loss that knocked them out of the playoff race.
''That's what we can control is how hard we work and how fast we play. That's something we can control,'' the 6-2, 220-pound sophomore said. ''Hopefully that affects everyone else by our example and our setting the tone as a group, other people will follow.''
When the Irish (1-2) faced Michigan State last week , Adams wore a jersey bearing No. 1, awarded each week to the player that coach Brian Kelly believes best represents the ideals of the program on and off the field. Kelly said Adams, the first underclassman to wear the jersey, earned the honor for the way he's worked since arriving on campus.
''It's been a championship level kind of work ethic. To have the all-time winning percentage for college football, you have to have players that are your best players. Also, they've got to be your best workers. He's one of clearly our best workers in practice. So he sets a high bar,'' Kelly said.
Adams was expected to compete last season with fellow freshman Dexter Williams for playing time as the No. 4 running back. But after Greg Bryant left school because he was academically ineligible and Tarean Folston sustained a season-ending knee injury in the opening game, Adams emerged as the No. 2 back behind C.J. Prosise.
Adams had four 100-yard rushing games, tying a school record for freshmen. He fell a yard shy of tying the school freshman record for yards in a game when he ran for 147 yards on 20 carries against Pittsburgh. A week later, he had the longest run ever in Notre Dame Stadium on a 98-yard touchdown against Wake Forest. He set the school freshman record with 835 yards rushing.
Heading into the game against Duke (1-2), Adams is leading the Irish in rushing this season with 178 yards on 33 carries, although he has yet to score. Folston has rushed for 129 yards on 32 carries and quarterback DeShone Kizer has run for 126 yards on 32 carries.
The rushing game struggled last week in the 36-28 loss to Michigan State, managing just 57 yards. Adams finished with 29 yards on 12 carries, although six of his seven carries in the first half were for three yards or more.
Kelly said he wasn't disappointed in the Irish running game.
''I believe our running game is going to be where it needs to be. I think we made some mistakes and then never got in the kind of committed run flow in the second half that we needed to because we got down so quickly,'' he said.
Adams said he is focused on becoming a better pass blocker. He failed to see a linebacker rushing in unblocked against the Spartans, leading to Kizer being sacked.
Adams also is working on trying to break through the first tackle.
''Not getting tackled by one man is something you definitely have to pride yourself in in being a running back,'' he said. ''A running back makes a play out of nothing, so I definitely have to do a better job of that.''