RB Jafar Armstrong Set For Full Return Against Michigan

Bryan Driskell

In his press conference previewing Notre Dame’s upcoming matchup against Michigan, Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly announced that junior running back Jafar Armstrong is back to full speed and will be an important part of the game plan against Michigan.

Armstrong entered the season as Notre Dame’s top back, and he carried the ball twice for 10 yards and hauled in a 16-yard reception on the season-opening drive against Louisville. That would be it for Armstrong, as a groin-area injury cost him the remainder of that game and all but four snaps of the USC game.

The bye week has given Armstrong a chance to get back to full strength and full speed, and it afforded the offensive staff the time to work him back into the lineup.

Armstrong’s return means Notre Dame’s offense will get to play at full strength for the first time all season. Standout tight end Cole Kmet and starting receiver Michael Young missed the Louisville game, and sophomore receiver Lawrence Keys III did not play against USC, a game in which Armstrong was limited to just four snaps.

With Armstrong back in the lineup expect to see Notre Dame get back to using its two-back alignment more frequently, which gives offensive coordinator Chip Long even more tools in his arsenal. With Armstrong’s background as a wideout and success catching the ball in 2018 (14 catches, 159 yards) he provides the offense with a great deal of versatility.

The season-opening series against Louisville showed how diverse of a weapon Armstrong can be.

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On Notre Dame's first series against Louisville we saw both Armstrong and Tony Jones Jr. in the starting lineup. The clip above was the first play of the season, and Armstrong is lined up in the slot with Jones in the backfield.

Later in that series we saw Armstrong lined up outside.

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On this particular snap, Armstrong was isolated backside as the W receiver, and Long used the three receivers to the left to run the defense offense, which opened up the crossing route for Armstrong, which resulted in a 16-yard gain.

On the very next play Armstrong was in the backfield.

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The emergence of sophomore tight end Tommy Tremble and the presence of sophomore wideouts Braden Lenzy and Keys now combines with the return of Armstrong to give Notre Dame the flexibility to be explosive in a variety of personnel groupings. 

Notre Dame will need them all to be effective to get a road win against the Wolverines.

Comments (6)
No. 1-5
thomasna33
thomasna33

Reading this made me realize that ND has quite a few weapons in the pass game. Kmet and Claypool are obvious. Lenzy, Young, and Keys all combine to give ND the best speed at receiver since 2015. Tremble is the one that needs to be used a bit more. No LB or S is going to be able to defend him. Armstrong just makes this offense even more dynamic. Glad Armstrong is back.

Thrillhouse
Thrillhouse

I think this has really hurt the offense having him out of the lineup. With Book being a short throwing QB it should be a huge weapon having Jafar running the underneath routes. It also seems like Book is more willing to throw the wheel route to Jafar rather than throwing deep to our WR's so hopefully he can stretch the field a bit. Hoping for a strong showing from the offense this week!

maloy49
maloy49

Coach D, I feel like Kmet really surprised Georgia. Do you think Armstrong can have the same impact?

TDJesus1986
TDJesus1986

One of the biggest flaws of the offense lately has been the screen game. I know timing and lineman getting out to block and Book putting the ball on the receiver are all factors as well, but Jafar has been sorely missed in this area. I keep thinking about that Kmet screen where he just got tripped up. The plays have been there, just no one to exploit them. Some guys have dropped the ball, or lost in the wash, or other things but this HAS to be improve.

I also think back to Jafar's first drive against this Michigan defense last year. He seemed to have the burst and vision to attack a much stronger defense as well.

Pjtdomer
Pjtdomer

Coach, Since Jafar got injured so early in the Louisville game, does that mean that there is very little tape of Notre Dame using these two back sets and schemes for Michigan to prepare for us? Just wondering if we have used the two back stuff enough without Jafar during the season, or whether this (hopefully) gives our offense an early season edge in a mid season game.


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