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Irish Insights


Pinstripe Bowl could help settle Notre Dame's running game

NEW YORK – Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly may have given a little insight to the future of the team's running game in the final press conference before the No. 25 Irish (8-4) play Rutgers (6-6) on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

After being asked about running back Cam McDaniel at Friday's press conference, Kelly opened by talking about freshman running back Tarean Folston

"We started with a rotation there and I think we've kind of settled on Folston as somebody that would start the game," Kelly said.

Folston had double-digit carries in four of the final five games of the season, with his best performance coming in a 38-34 win over Navy on Nov. 4 when he ran for 140 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.

If Folston performs like that against Rutgers, it could set the depth chart for next season when freshman Greg Bryant returns to the mix along with McDaniel, George Atkinson III and Amir Carlisle.

The Irish will also have a threat at quarterback with Everett Golson returning to the team.

"I thought that our running game was one that certainly needed to match with who the running back situation ended up being," Kelly said. "We were trying to find out who that back was, whether it was Folston or Atkinson."

However Saturday's game plays out for the running backs, the Irish will be going into the bowl with a very different looking offensive line.

The Irish will have three new starters in guards Conor Hanratty and Steve Elemer as well as center Matt Hegarty. Saturday will feature the sixth offensive line combination for the Irish, who used the same starting five linemen in last year's run to the BCS championship game.

"That has kind of made it an uneasy situation relative to the continuity, but we have to be able to run the football to be an effective offense," Kelly said. "I think the running back situation has provided us a little bit more clarity. Going into this game, we've had plenty of work with the unit."