You see it every season, some rotation player or backup from the previous season steps up and has a breakout season. Last season the biggest breakout on the squad was sophomore running back Kyren Williams, who went from four carries in 2019 to over 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2020.
Another running back is poised for a similar breakout in 2021, and that would be sophomore running back Chris Tyree.
The presence of Williams will make it challenging for Tyree to match the same level of production in his second season, but Tyree can and should be given the opportunity to become more than just a "give Kyren a breather" type of player this season.
Tyree had good numbers for a freshman, especially as the No. 2 back, rushing for 496 yards and four touchdowns. A deeper dive shows that much of his production came in mop up minutes, as Tyree rushed for 168 yards in back-to-back blowout early season victories over South Florida and Florida State, and 109 yards in a blowout win over Syracuse, most of which came on his 94-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
There were four games where Tyree carried the ball three times or fewer, including both matchups against Clemson. In the ACC title game Tyree didn't carry the football until the fourth quarter, when his only carry of the game went 21 yards for a touchdown.
Tyree caught eight passes for 65 yards, with four of them coming in the Rose Bowl loss to Alabama.
WHAT A BREAKOUT LOOKS LIKE
Williams is poised to establish himself as one of the very best backs in the entire country now that he goes into his second season as a starter. The key for Notre Dame is finding ways to use both Williams and Tyree together, both as part of a rotation and also together.
Why can't Notre Dame have a one-two punch like what we saw at North Carolina in 2020, when both Javonte Williams and Michael Carter both rushed for over 1,000 yards on the season? Why can't Tyree and Williams both be focal points of the offense and not just using your most explosive athlete on the roster as more than a "breather" guy?
That's what I am predicting will happen in 2021. Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees is going to make both running backs key factors in the offense. We'll see Tyree get more touches at running back early in the game as part of the rotation, but the more exciting part is going to be when Tyree and Williams are on the field together.
Williams is a unique player that can line up outside and play slot receiver at a high level for a back. Tyree also brings unique pass game potential to the offense. That should allow Rees to use them both together without sacrificing the threat of the pass game.
Tyree carried the ball just 73 times last season but averaged 6.8 yards per carry. As he continues to improve his decision making and gets another year in the weight room Tyree will become even more efficient, which will only add to his big play ability.
If Tyree breaks out it makes the Irish offense so much more dangerous, as it keeps opposing defenses from keying on Williams or tight end Michael Mayer. His breakout is going to create a more explosive Notre Dame offense in both the run game and pass game, and it's going to be fun to watch.
Part of the prediction of Tyree as a breakout also involves a prediction that it will be Williams and Tyree that emerge as the nation's best one-two punch at running back.
Irish Breakdown Content
Become a premium Irish Breakdown member, which grants you access to all of our premium content, our premium message board and gets you a FREE subscription to Sports Illustrated! Click on the link below for more
Be sure to stay locked into Irish Breakdown all the time!
Join the Irish Breakdown community!
Subscribe to the Irish Breakdown YouTube channel
Subscribe to the Irish Breakdown podcast on iTunes
Subscribe to our Irish Breakdown Rumble channel
Follow me on Twitter: @CoachD178
Follow me on Parler: @BryanDriskell
Like and follow Irish Breakdown on Facebook