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Running backs get the ball moving in Ireland

| Monday, August 28, 2023

It’s a Notre Dame running back’s world and we’re just living in it. 


Audric Estime: 95 yards on 16 attempts, with 1 touchdown and 26 receiving yards

Jeremiyah Love: 40 yards on 4 attempts

Gi’Bran Payne: 31 yards on 6 attempts

Jadarian Price: 25 yards on 4 attempts, with 1 touchdown


Absolutely dominant. 


In an interview given on August 3rd, Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman discussed his talented, but young running back room. Estime had a stellar sophomore season, leaving no question as to who would start. But with two red-shirt freshmen and a true freshman competing to be next off the bench, fans may have expected to see a few nerves out of Price, Payne, and Love. Instead, the entire room came ready to run. 

“We wanted to rotate all those guys…There’s one ball. It’s a lot of talented individuals. And this is just week zero. And that’s what you have to be able to do is have a team that [is unselfish]. And it’s hard. It’s really hard. But I think coach [Deland] McCullough has done a great job with that room in terms of making sure they understand before the game,” said Freeman. 

And it’s not like the passing game lacked because of the running backs’ success. After his first touchdown pass as a Notre Dame quarterback, Sam Hartman had every Irish fan on their feet, the entire stadium and every ND fan faithfully watching at home cheering and breathing a sigh of relief that the hype was real. 

Navy struggled to even slow the offense down, leaving wide holes for running backs and beautiful passes downfield for Hartman. He threw to eight different receivers, five of whom had more than 20 receiving yards, showing his strong chemistry with teammates even after a short time. And he only threw four incompletions. 

Last year, we were concerned about who would step up to replace the receptions and yards with star tight end Michael Mayer’s departure to the NFL. Well, it was everyone. Everyone stepped up in what was truly a team victory for the Irish. Notre Dame fans had the stadium rocking and kept the Guinness flowing all game long.

The arm strength, accuracy and confidence we saw from Hartman is a result of Notre Dame’s continued commitment to running the ball. The headlines from this game will be about Hartman’s dominance, but it all started with the running backs. 

I thought just the overall operation of our offense, the ability to run the ball helps Sam a lot too. We talked about this in our team meeting, the greatest friend for a quarterback is the ability to run the ball. And that was something that our offensive line and our running game did a great job doing today,” said Freeman. 

The offense that showed up in Ireland was one of Notre Dame’s dreams. Though the matchup was against Navy, Notre Dame had to absolutely dominate. And they did. After so many seasons of nail biters and unspeakable Marshall-like events, this is a team that Irish fans could reliably believe in. With any luck, all Notre Dame games this season will be this much fun. 

The Irish coming home, South Bend. Be ready, get hype. 

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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