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Irish show they can run

Notre Dame has a chance for two running backs to reach 1,000 rushing yards this season.

Cierre Wood has run for 907 yards, and Jonas Gray has 730 rushing yards.

Those are numbers Gray said he didn't think would be possible in a Brian Kelly offense when the coach arrived at Notre Dame two years ago.

"Never really thought that," Gray said of the possibility of having two 1,000-yard rushers in Kelly's spread offense. "If he would have tried to use that has a recruiting tool, I wouldn't have believed him."

Kelly said Tuesday that while he had to throw the ball a lot at Cincinnati, his body of work as a head coach would show that he isn't against having a strong running game.

"I think sometimes you have to overcome perception," Kelly said. "I've had multiple 1000-yard rushers when we had the depth at that position and we had an experienced offensive line.

"So yeah, once in a while you have to be able to say look at my entire body of work, not what we had to do to win football games over the last few years. So yeah, sometimes, but I don't think we need to worry about that anymore."

Along with the benefits of what Wood and Gray are doing this season, Notre Dame could reap the rewards of showing that running backs can prosper in its offense down the line.

"It really enables us to be able to go into homes across America and recruit the very best running backs," offensive coordinator Charley Molnar said. "And say listen, 'You'll get not only an opportunity to play football at Notre Dame, but you'll also get the chance to carry the football enough times that you'll feel that it was beneficial in the development of your career.' "