Notre Dame Could Get RB Jafar Armstrong Back for USC

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly provided Irish fans with an optimistic update on starting running back Jafar Armstrong on Sunday.  Kelly indicated that there is a strong chance the Irish offense will have its last missing playmaker return to the lineup this weekend for USC’s visit to Notre Dame Stadium.

Jafar Armstrong has been missing from the Notre Dame lineup since the first quarter of the season-opener against Louisville as he has dealt with a groin injury.  Brian Kelly told reporters on Sunday, however, that Notre Dame will put him through a vigorous test on Tuesday to determine if he can play this weekend.  As of today, Kelly is optimistic he’ll have his RB1 back.

Tony Jones Jr has been starting in Armstrong’s absence over the last month and has made the most of his opportunity.  Jones has three 100 yard rushing performances on the season, including 102 yards on just seven carries yesterday in Notre Dame’s 52-0 blowout of Bowling Green. Jones has 381 yards on 55 attempts (6.9 ypc) with four touchdowns.  Jones only had 392 yards all of last season.

Despite Jones’s impressive yards per carry total, his lack of a top gear is something that has been a limitation of the Irish offense to date. To replace some of the top-end speed that Armstrong usually gives the offense, Notre Dame moved Avery Davis back to offense.

Getting Armstrong back for this weekend’s contest with USC would be a massive boost for the Irish offense. Notre Dame has also been missing Armstrong’s receiving capabilities out of the backfield.  Should he return, Notre Dame would be at full strength on offense for the first time this season.

Notre Dame played the first two games of the season without Cole Kmet and Michael Young.  Kmet returned against Georgia while Young made his return last week against Virginia.  Adding Armstrong back in the lineup would give Ian Book all of his top playmakers at his disposal just in time for a make or break stretch of the schedule for Notre Dame.  After hosting the Irish this weekend, they get a bye week before making the short trip to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan.

RELATED
Beyond the Boxscore of Notre Dame's Sloppy 18 Point Win Over Louisville

For Armstrong, this most recent injury is just the latest setback for the junior who battled through multiple injuries in 2018.  To date, we still haven’t even really seen Armstrong’s full potential, given how injuries slowed him as a sophomore.  He ran for seven touchdowns a year ago while averaging 5.3 yards per carry on the season.  In minimal action in the opener, Armstrong ran for 10 yards on two carries and hauled in one reception for 16 yards.

Having a healthy Armstrong in the lineup could play a big difference in whether or not the Irish can get back into the playoff mix.  He adds another dimension to an improving Irish offense that still has not played its best football this season.  Keeping Armstrong healthy, who has been plagued with injuries, will also be critical once he does return – even if it is not this weekend.

Videos

You may also like

5 comments

  1. Subway Alum 1 week ago

    I guess most of the ‘commenters’ here missed the stellar performance by Tony Jones in the last two games. I’m speaking of his pass blocking as well as his back-to-back 100+ yards gained rushing.

    Although I like the speed of his back-up, C’Bo, I’m a little suspect of the way he carries the football, I believe he’s more likely to get stripped then Tony.

    On the other hand, I suspect the OL will not be as dominant vs USC as they’ve been over the last two games and maybe a RB who can find a crease faster might be more valuable this Saturday night…still, my guess is Saturday’s gameplan will stress passing first, which puts Tony as the primary running/blocking back.

    Reply Like Dislike
  2. duranko 1 week ago

    a rational outcome would be to have Armstrong play, but not extensively, against Michigan, restoring his own confidence in his
    health.

    And then prepare like a bat out of hell for the tilt in Ann Arbor on October 26th. We have enough weapons to pound the Trojans without Armstrong.

    On Armstrong’s pass protection, I think it was an ancient philosopher, perhaps Lao Tzu, who said “the best way to disguise a running back’s deficiencies as a blocker is to flare him out
    or run him on a wheel route.” I think he may have borrowed that from Sun Tzu….

    Reply Like Dislike
  3. Jeff 1 week ago

    Dexter Williams has not suited up yet for the Green Bay Packers reason being is he’s very poor in pass protection. Seems like he had this same issue while it Notre Dame. That’s the main reason Tony Jones sees the field so much at Notre Dame even though he’s the least talented because he’s great in pass protection.

    Reply Like Dislike
    1. ChrisJ 1 week ago

      Yeah let’s play the guy who pass protects better rather than the guy who consistently breaks long TD runs and can change the game in one play. That is prototypical Brian Kelly for you. Good call. The NFL is different because how often do you see long TD runs by backs. It’s very rare. In college, it’s a different story.

      Reply Like Dislike
  4. pete calco 1 week ago

    Need Armstrong Lenzy Keys Young.Got to get speed explosive playmakers on the field. The offense needs to really start to pick it up if Notredame wants to win out.

    Reply Like Dislike