Kelly: Bryant not buried in Notre Dame backfield

Kelly: Bryant not buried in Notre Dame backfield
September 24, 2013, 9:00 pm
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- For now, Greg Bryant is out of the loop in Notre Dame's backfield.

Coach Brian Kelly said Sunday he's seen a four-man running back rotation develop, comprised of Amir Carlisle, Cam McDaniel, George Atkinson and Tarean Folston. That leaves Bryant on the outside looking in, although Kelly said it's hardly a permanent status.

"We just got to four. I'd like to get to five," Kelly said Tuesday. "Greg certainly has a skill set that we just haven't gotten into the game yet."

It's apparently a skill set, though, that hasn't been conducive toward carries as Notre Dame's backfield continues to search for solutions.

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Notre Dame's running back breakdown has been as follows through four games: Cam McDaniel has 45 carries and 165 yards (3.7 yards/carry average), Amir Carlisle has 33 carries and 157 yards (4.8 yards/carry), George Atkinson has 24 carries and 121 yards (5.0 yards/carry) and Folston has nine carries and 26 yards (2.9 yards/carry).

Bryant has just three carries for 14 yards. As a unit, Notre Dame running backs are averaging 3.7 yards per carry, which ranks among the bottom third of FBS teams.

Kelly has turned to Folston more than Bryant among the freshman running backs, giving him four carries against Michigan State. Despite entering with a less hype than Bryant (a five-star recruit, as opposed to Folston's four-star rating), he's impressed Kelly enough to vault Bryant on the pecking order for now.

"Just like his vision, his size," Kelly lauded on Sunday. "He's a guy that's always going forward. I guess more than anything else, you can see that he's got a nice forward lean. Very talented kid out of the backfield, as well."

Notre Dame's only played four games, so it's still early into Bryant's career and there's plenty of time for him to crack the backfield rotation. Notre Dame needs answers out of the backfield, though, so an improvement by the highly-touted freshman could be a major boon for the Irish offense.

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That hasn't happened, as Bryant hasn't yet broken through in a crowded backfield.

"It's about scripting five and trying to get five (backs) into the game more than anything else," Kelly offered. "We have him scripted into certain plays, it's just really the flow of the game and the circumstances in trying to get him in."