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As Logan Diggs emerges, so does the Irish offense

| Saturday, November 20, 2021

Slowly but steadily, Notre Dame’s offense put together perhaps its most complete performance in years against Georgia Tech this Saturday. In a performance perhaps emblematic of the unit’s performance this season as a whole, the Irish offense progressively grew more dominant as the game went on, stringing together chunk yardage plays and consistently converting key third downs. The showing, which was Notre Dame’s first 50+ point performance since early last season, was a marked improvement from some of the early turnouts in 2021 — most notably an early stretch against Toledo, Purdue, Wisconsin and Cincinnati where the Irish offense seemed to be stuck in first gear for large portions of games.

A big part of that turnaround has been the emergence of Logan Diggs as a true no. 2 running back behind Kyren Williams, offering a different look for offensive coordinator Tommy Rees to throw at opposing defenses, as well as a chance for Williams to get the rest he needs as a bell cow who often sees 15+ carries in a game.

Allison Thornton | The Observer
Freshman running back Logan Diggs celebrates after his five-yard touchdown run in the second quarter during the Irish’s 55-0 victory against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Saturday.

Logan Diggs didn’t have his biggest game in terms of volume against the Yellow Jackets on Saturday (only receiving two carries and one target), but he certainly made the most of his chances, punching in a touchdown run from the 5-yard line in the second quarter and then three minutes later turning a clever screen pass into a 20-yard touchdown reception. 

His touchdown run, which featured some solid power and a nice broken tackle, certainly deserves plaudits. However, Diggs’ reception really highlights why he looks like a future staple in the Irish lineup. The effort displayed both tangible, physical gifts with his speed, as well as patience beyond his years. After taking in Coan’s floated pass (a task easier said than done, which many more traditional running backs can attest to), the freshman out of Marrero, Louisiana looked upfield. Instead of immediately charging forward and trying to beat the defender in front of him down the sideline, Diggs waited for Josh Lugg to get in position to make the block. Once Lugg cleared the way, Diggs turned on the jets and eventually found the pylon for the score.

It’s hard to not draw immediate comparisons to Kyren Williams when watching Diggs — both are crafty running backs who can provide both speed, shiftiness, power and patience to the backfield. And such similar traits have allowed for a natural partnership to emerge between the two backs, both on and off the field. 

When asked about how Williams has helped him improve, Diggs described just how big of an influence the junior has had on him. These effects can be traced back to the team’s fall camp, where the two were partnered together.

“I would honestly say Kyren is the reason why I’m comfortable and why I’m doing what I’m doing,” Diggs said. “He just took me under his wing, all throughout camp. His habits have rubbed off on me.”

He later elaborated how some of those practice habits picked up under Williams’ wing have played an important role in his development as a player, making sure that he was ready when his chance finally came in week six against Virginia Tech.

“I think it’s about practice and reps — and that goes for anybody. The game slows down as you get reps and the coaches begin to trust you and you build your own confidence,” Diggs said. “My attention to detail, my mindset [have benefitted from working with Williams]. The way that [Williams] approaches the game is different than anyone I’ve ever seen. His mindset is very strong, and that rubs off on me and it rubs off on the whole team. We all have that mentality that that first man isn’t going to tackle me.”

Diggs has also fostered strong relationships with team members beyond Williams — he also spoke on his bond with fellow freshman running back Audric Estime, who got his first carries of the season late in the game Saturday.

“Watching him out there play tonight, after all the talks that me and him have had together, I know that he was really excited and really ready to go out and play,” Williams said of Estime. “He’s been ready and he proved that tonight. I’m proud of him.”

Diggs’ mentality also stands out as a trait that sets him on the right track to be a future star for the Irish. Last week the freshman broke Twitter with an incredible hurdle in which he cleared 6-foot-1 Virginia defensive back Anthony Johnson with relative ease on what would prove to be a key drive for the Irish. But in the press conference this week, Diggs played it off as something in the past, making clear his focus is on his future with the team.

“I’ll be honest; I’m tired of seeing it,” Diggs admitted. “But it’s all love, though. I appreciate it.”

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