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Chris Tyree Being Healthy, Audric Estime Breaking Out Is Vital To For Notre Dame

With injuries at running back its imperative that Chris Tyree remain healthy and Audric Estime break out in 2022

The latest news about running back Jadarian Price being out for the season with a ruptured Achilles has shaken up the Notre Dame depth chart. This followed up a spring shoulder injury to Logan Diggs, and the once deep running back depth chart has become a bit more shaky.

This news makes the decision to sign Gi'Bran Payne even more important, but ultimate success in 2022 will be determined by what happens with junior Chris Tyree and sophomore Audric Estime.

Notre Dame needs Tyree to stay healthy and for Estime to have a breakout season.

Tyree was a Top 100 recruit coming out of high school, and landing him was a huge coup for the Notre Dame staff. The Virginia native showed off his big-time talent as a freshman when he averaged 6.8 yards on 73 carries (496 yards). Tyree is a dynamic back that has shown he is a legit home run weapon every time he touches the ball.

Tyree's issues last season were two-fold. His running style was severely hampered by the poor play of the line, and Tyree suffered a turf toe injury midway through the season. That hindered his ability to make an impact in the run game, but Tyree still had a pair of 50+ yard touchdown receptions and his 96-yard kick return for a touchdown against Wisconsin turned a fourth quarter deficit into an Irish lead.

If Tyree is healthy in 2022, and if he can stay healthy, he has the tools to have a breakout season for the Irish

Even if Tyree is healthy he's not a back that is going to carry a heavy workload week after week without his overall game taking a hit. He can carry the ball more than often given credit for, but he'll need at least one complementary player in the backfield to take some of the burden off his shoulders .... or perhaps legs would be a better way to phrase it.

The season-ending injury to Price and the potential that Diggs could miss a part of the season opens up a huge opportunity for Estime. Buried on the depth chart as a true freshman, the New Jersey native carried the ball just seven times, but he rushed for 60 yards in those limited carries (8.6 YPC).

Estime was a highly regarded prep back that ranked No. 130 nationally by Rivals after he rushed for 1,857 yards (9.8 YPC) and 22 touchdowns in just eight games of a Covid shortened season. A physical specimen at 6-1 and 228 pounds, Estime surely has the ability to be a hammer in the backfield, but he's a nimble athlete as well for someone his size, which means he can do much more than just run people over.

A backfield that contains a healthy Tyree and an emerging Estime has a unique complementary skillset. Both are legitimate weapons but their games are quite different, which gives offensive coordinator Tommy Rees plenty of flexibility of what he can call in the run game. Their complementary nature should also allow Rees to use them together in some 21 personnel (two backs) looks.

Yes, the depth chart just got thin, but there is still plenty of talent returning if the rest of the group can stay healthy, and with Tyree and Estime taking the lead the Irish backfield has a chance to be dynamic .... and highly productive.

Payne is the wildcard. He's a talented back that I graded out as a four-star recruit following a highly productive sophomore campaign. He missed all but one game of his junior season and was hampered much of his senior season. Payne is now thrust into a role where he might be forced to play this season. If he's healthy the Irish are fine, but if Payne isn't ready for duty the depth chart could be very shaky until Diggs returns.

If Tyree and Estime both stay healthy the Irish should still be in good shape, especially if Diggs does in fact return at some point during the 2022 season. Should he return, good health and production from Tyree and Estime would mean that Notre Dame can slowly work Diggs back into the rotation, which will help limit some of the wear and tear on his shoulder and keep him from being overworked upon his return.

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That would mean Diggs would be starting round into form in November and the postseason, which would then take some of the burden off of Tyree and Estime.

Notre Dame needs some things to go right, but if they do the Irish ground attack should see a breakout in 2022, and it will be led by Tyree, Estime, eventually Diggs and of course, quarterback Tyler Buchner.

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