Grading The Notre Dame Running Backs vs. Florida State

Handing out grades and providing analysis of the Notre Dame running backs from the win over Florida State
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Notre Dame did some very good things on offense against Florida State, scoring 41 points and racking up over 400 yards of offense. Florida State spent a lot of time trying to slow down the Irish running backs, but the unit performed well in the game.

Notre Dame's backs combined for 73 rushing yards on 25 attempts, averaging a combined 2.9 yards per attempt. That is far from impressive numbers but the issues were more up front than with the backs. The versatility of the backs stood out in this game, with the backs combining for 10 catches for 93 yards and a score.

Even though the yards were few I graded the backs out well in the run game. Both backs maximized opportunities and ran with authority, and the duo did a good job making plays on snaps where the line got whipped.

One thing I noticed in this game is that the backs got out into their check down routes much quicker than last season, which was absolutely a positive in the game. Florida State didn't blitz much in the game, relying on the front four to get pressure. In recent seasons the backs would wait way too long to get out when no pressure came and they weren't options as check downs nearly enough. That wasn't the case in this game.

Overall Grade: B

Let's look at the individual player grades and analysis.


Grade: B
Rush Stats: 18 carries, 42 yards, 2.3 YPC
Receiving Stats: 6 catches, 83 yards, 13.8 YPC, 1 TD
Totals: 24 touches, 125 yards, 5.2 YPT, 1 TD

Williams ran hard for the Irish but there just wasn't much room to work. Far too often he was forced to make moves deeper than normal because of how much penetration the Irish line was giving up. Williams had at least four reads I questioned but I didn't ding his grade too much because he had to make the reads so quickly because of that penetration.

Williams ran hard and did a very good job maximizing yards in the game, cutting back quickly when needed and hammering forward to get the most of his yards opportunities when he had to stay playside.

Where Williams had his biggest impact was in the pass game. He caught six passes for 83 yards, most of which came on a 55-yard gain on a third quarter screen. Williams was patient getting out and then taking off for a big gain once he made the catch. Williams was used on free release routes throughout the game, much more than we saw in the past and it worked quite well.

When he got in space against the Seminoles Williams was very effective, including doing a great job making defenders miss and finding his way into the end zone on a swing pass in the third quarter.


Grade: B-
Rush Stats: 7 carries, 31 yards, 4.4 YPC, 1 TD
Receiving Stats: 4 catches, 10 yards, 2.5 YPC
Totals: 11 touches, 41 yards, 3.7 YPT, 1 TD

Tyree did the dirty work in the run game for Notre Dame and he had the only 10+ yard gain in the game. I can't believe I'm writing those words, Notre Dame had one rush - out of 25 - that went over 10 yards in the win. That says a lot more about the line than it does the Notre Dame backs.

Tyree was decisive in the backfield, and his quick decisions allowed him to rip off positive yards on several snaps where there was initially no room to work. Other than the 12-yard draw play, many of his yards didn't come as part of the play design but by Tyree just finding room and using his speed to get there.

I want to see Tyree explode more to the sideline on some of the runs and passes that he got the ball on the perimeter. The one time he did that he got outside the defense and picked up nine yards on a swing screen. Tyree could stand to be a tad more decisive getting out into his check down routes, but his timing was good, he just needs more urgency.

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