Robert Hughes Establishing Himself

NOTRE DAME, IN ( ) – Robert Hughes’s freshman year at Notre Dame certainly hasn’t been an easy one for the talented Chicago native running back. For most of the freshmen on the Notre Dame roster, the biggest disappointment this season has been suffering through the pain of a 2-9 season. For Hughes, the disappointment of losing a few football games pales in comparison to what he’s been through after suffering the loss of his brother a few weeks ago. On the football field, however, things seem to be looking up for this rising Notre Dame star after his first career 100 yard performance this past weekend.

Hughes rumbled through the Duke defense to the tune of 110 yards on 17 carries after Charlie Weis decided to give him the bulk of the carries during the rain soaked second half of Saturday’s “showdown” with the Blue Devils.

The performance was probably the best single game performance from a Notre Dame running back since Julius Jones torched a couple defenses for over 200 yards back in 2003. Yeah it was against Duke and yeah such performances should be the norm against opponents like Duke.

Whatever. Have you seen a single Notre Dame running back run harder or break more tackles in the last five years? I certainly haven’t. Hughes legs never stopped churning as he accumulated 66 of his 110 yards after first contact.

His teammates took notice as well.

“He had one heck of a game, busting plays. And on the third and short, he just busted out there. I tip my hat to him. He did a great job,” said sophomore left tackle Sam Young of Hughes’s performance on Saturday. John Carlson added, “Robert (Hughes) ran hard and made some great plays.”

Said Duke head coach Ted Roof of Hughes, “I thought he ran really hard. Thought he ran well.”

With the emergence of Robert Hughes, Armando Allen, and James Aldridge this year, the Irish are clearly going to have plenty of options at running back next year, especially with the addition of speedster Jonas Gray who is currently committed to Notre Dame.

Said Weis on Sunday of his trio of backs, “I do know that going into the off season, the combination of James and Robert and Armando will give you a lot of reasons for – a huge reason to be optimistic in the running game.”

It’s not clear where Hughes will fit into the short term plans against Stanford this weekend though. He is still currently listed as 4th on the official depth chart released on the official website today, but that doesn’t mean Weis won’t feed him the ball this week – especially if James Aldridge’s ankle bothers him again this week.

What is clear is that Hughes gives the Irish a bulldozing option at running back that they have been missing for years.

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