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Watch: Folston anchors the running game

Nov 5, 2013, 1:46 PM EDT

Tarean Folston AP

Looking for a highlight reel of Tarean Folston‘s breakout performance? Our friends at UND.com and Fighting Irish Digital Media have you hooked up.

Their Turning Points feature took a closer look at the Notre Dame running game, a unit that finally got on track against a Navy defense that was actually a lot better against the run than you’d expect.

While the ground attack hasn’t been as good as last season, the Irish gouged the Midshipmen for 268 yard on Saturday, with Folston carrying the load in the second half.

When the Irish needed touchdowns in the second half to keep pace with Navy, Brian Kelly ran the ball behind two-tight end sets and used the run to set up the pass. While Tommy Rees connected on a few clutch throws (a 3rd-and-8 to Troy Niklas being one of the most important plays in the game) it was the ground game that took over.

With the Irish heading to Pittsburgh and the defense banged up, taking possession of the clock with a strong ground game wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world. And after eight weeks of bouncing between running backs, it looks like the Irish might have found a guy that can carry the load down the stretch.

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  1. ndgoldandblue - Nov 5, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    Man, I loved the offensive approach in the Navy game. That was indeed fun to watch. Let’s do it again against Pitt.

    • 4horsemenrideagain - Nov 5, 2013 at 2:38 PM

      boy, you can say that again. when the running game effectively sets up the pass, it’s just plain enjoyable to watch and must be awfully frustrating to coach against. the only thing wrong with the waggle (the bootleg where koyak had his td and niklas had a nice first down) was that they only ran it twice.

      if you ever wondered what commentators mean when they say a blocker got his assignment “on roller skates,” watch the clip in this article and pay attention to niklas. it’s a first down run and niklas locks onto the linebacker, pushes him back to the first down marker (10 yards downfield in case you weren’t paying attention) then dumps him and drives him into the soggy turf.

      • ndgoldandblue - Nov 5, 2013 at 8:43 PM

        Just…wow. Beautiful football offensively. Ya know, there’s a belief among some that, in order to have a good running game, the quarterback needs to be a running threat. I don’t know if I subscribe to that mentality. There are a lot of very immobile quarterbacks out there who lead offenses that can run the ball superbly. It’s not just in the NFL; college, too. I know that Navy isn’t a good litmus test for the running game, but I believe the approach employed by Kelly and co. against the Midshipmen can work against better defenses. I think we could even run successfully against Stanford. The question is, will Kelly and Martin stick to that approach if things don’t start out splendidly.

      • danirish - Nov 6, 2013 at 10:00 AM

        Are you talking about the play where Folston ended up on the bench? I did focus on Hercules an dyou are right 0 He pushed him like a sled and then dropped him like 1st period calculus!

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Nov 6, 2013 at 10:51 AM

        that was the play all right!

        that poor Navy LB looked just like the blocking sled from that clip last year-driven back and back and back and then dumped over. you just hope the LB’s parents weren’t watching that play.

        now i have a tendency to get ahead of myself, i admit that, but i was watching gronkowski’s highlights and i kept thinking “this guy’s got nothing on niklas” and gronk has been playing TE forever. i think as far his potential goes, the sky is the limit for niklas.

    • mtflsmitty - Nov 5, 2013 at 4:20 PM

      Good to have you back, NDG&B. Glad we didn’t have to wait to see you in another life.

      • ndgoldandblue - Nov 5, 2013 at 4:26 PM

        Yeah, yeah. Empty threats, I know.

  2. 808raiderinparadise - Nov 5, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    Troy Niklas. All I have to say.

    Best BLOCKING TE we have ever had and he still improving on that and becoming sure handed 3rd down target.

    • 808raiderinparadise - Nov 5, 2013 at 2:42 PM

      Also Tarean Folston ironically reminds me of PITT and EAGLE great LeSean McCoy “Shady”

      Very similar games/styles …

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Nov 5, 2013 at 4:32 PM

        good call. i hope he can be as effective of a receiver out of the backfield as mccoy.

    • mtflsmitty - Nov 5, 2013 at 4:35 PM

      He is looking pretty darn good. We’re all reminded of his impressive size 3-4 times a game by Mayock. Sure, that creates a great mis-match vs the OLBs he usually faces. But what isn’t discussed is that his agility, speed, and footwork allow him to avoid being beaten by those smaller guys.

      But how things have changed…

      Remember how bad TN looked last year against Stanford? TN was just 5-6 games into his career at TE. He was taken to the woodshed in that game. What a difference a year makes!

      • mediocrebob - Nov 5, 2013 at 7:07 PM

        Don’t tell people on here, but I think he’s been coached up!

  3. 4horsemenrideagain - Nov 5, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    boy, you can say that again. when the running game effectively sets up the pass, it’s just plain enjoyable to watch and must be awfully frustrating to coach against. the only thing wrong with the waggle (the bootleg where koyak had his td and niklas had a nice first down) was that they only ran it twice.

    if you ever wondered what commentators mean when they say a blocker got his assignment “on roller skates,” watch the first play in the clip in this article and pay attention to niklas. it’s a first down run and niklas comes off the line, locks onto the linebacker, drives him back to the first down marker (10 yards downfield in case you weren’t paying attention) then dumps him and drives him into the soggy turf.

  4. sdemp - Nov 5, 2013 at 3:51 PM

    Bout time!!!

  5. irishaggie - Nov 5, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    Tarean has the agility of Cierre Wood and the power of Theo Riddick. Amir is probably seeing him in his sleep, but I don’t feel any sympathy for the upper classmen, they had their chance.

    • onward2victory - Nov 6, 2013 at 1:36 AM

      No one can argue that Folston looks awesome, and I can’t wait to see Bryant. But I think Amir hasn’t gotten a fair shot.

      Re-watch the Michigan game and Amir was running like a boss. Its kinda hard to judge a guy when he only gets 2-3 looks per game. The sample size is just too small to write him off yet.

  6. rdw71 - Nov 5, 2013 at 7:53 PM

    Folston and McDaniels’ success makes it apparent that the problem with the running game is more with GAIII than any other element. This offensive line is one of the best at protecting the passer in the country, even with an immobile guy back there, so these guys can block. They can at least give the back a crease, and we have backs who don’t need any more than that. When Cam is running, he gets his yards, even when the other team knows it’s going to be a running play. We should stick with the guys who will get us at least 3-4 yards and use our passing game to hit the home runs. If we’re playing a defense where we can create big holes, then GAIII is the guy I want in there, but if we can only get a crease, give me Folston and McDaniel. GAIII’s yards per carry look big, but if your average is built on 1 home run and 9 plays where you only pick up a yard or two, then you’ll get maybe one TD and a lot of punts when he’s in. That’s not how you build a dominant running game, or use the run to set up the pass.

    I’m not faulting Kelly to this point – GAIII has potential, Kelly needed to see if he could develop – and he still may. He would not be the first RB to finally become a weapon in his senior year. But it’s hard to imagine it happening this week.

  7. getsome99 - Nov 5, 2013 at 8:23 PM

    GAIII is a homerun hitter. Still needs to get his 7-8 touches per game (not including kickoffs) but he is not an every down back. Carlisle just provides depth for us at this point.

    • ndgoldandblue - Nov 5, 2013 at 8:47 PM

      I hate to agree with you about Carlisle, but I’m afraid that’s where the Irish may be headed. It’s a shame, too. I think Carlisle’s got a boatload of talent. I hope the staff can find ways to get him involved in the game where he can make a regular contribution. The slot, maybe.

      • getsome99 - Nov 5, 2013 at 9:14 PM

        Too bad they haven’t been training him to field punts. Would have liked to have seen Carlisle and Chris Brown both worked in to the return game.

      • dillonbigred - Nov 5, 2013 at 9:52 PM

        The problem is Amir has dropped a few when the passes are thrown to him.

  8. viktory2013 - Nov 6, 2013 at 3:58 AM

    Atkinson particularly, and Carlisle to a lesser degree, seem to lack the aggressiveness necessary when they hit the line, as if they’re running scared. When Kelly jumps on Atkinson, he mans up and pounds it for a few plays but then seems as though he wants no part of punishment after a while. Carlisle just seems afraid of another injury and doesn’t want to risk it again.

    On the other hand, Folston and McDaniel just lower their head and bull their way forward, even after two or three hits. Get the feeling the line senses it and blocks a little harder for those two boys. That’s where dudes like Bettis and Hughes were so nasty, to the point where linebackers dreaded taking them on. Their toughness is infectious.

  9. yaketyyacc - Nov 6, 2013 at 6:18 AM

    the four horsemen are back: Folston, McDaniels, George Atkinson III, and Carlisle. can’t argue with this lineup!

  10. steincj36 - Nov 6, 2013 at 8:58 AM

    Full house backfield, anyone?

    • rdw71 - Nov 6, 2013 at 9:44 AM

      I’ll take a second tight end over a fullback any day.

  11. 4horsemenrideagain - Nov 6, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    Two years from now, I’d love to see Bryant and Folston be the one-two combination that Lacey and Yeldon were last year. Two years from now I also suspect Folston will readily admit that one of the best things about his freshman and sophomore years was playing with McDaniel because of how technically sound Cam is with waiting for the hole to develop, reading the block and making his cut right off the butt of the blocker and getting upfield rather than bouncing outside at the first sign of daylight.

    If “winning cures all ills,” I’ll offer that running the ball effectively cures plenty of ills in the passing game and on defense.

  12. danirish - Nov 6, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    All running backs (except Lee Becton) fumble but the only thing that makes me mervous is it seems that Folston runs with a loose ball (quit laughing). After watching the video it looks like the ball may pop out any minute! Ihope it is just me b/c obviously he is the future of Notre Dame’s running game, he looks like he has tons ofpotential I hope he doesn’t have a bad case of fumblitis.

    Give him the start and first carry this weekend, then a good dose of McDaniel/Folston with some over the middle stuff to Hercules and GET JONES A TD!

    Love the play calling lately!

    Is pitt any good?

    • 4horsemenrideagain - Nov 6, 2013 at 9:57 AM

      loose ball (not laughing) running is dangerous. how about koyak swinging it all around on his touchdown run? he looked like walter payton!

  13. runners00 - Nov 6, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    That’s what I have been craving all season. I wanted our Big Guys to move their big guys so that our speedy backs could drive ahead. And this video is so much fun to see how this happened on Saturday. It’s a great accomplishment — even if it’s Navy. Establishing a really strong and powerful run-game is not easy and we did this on Saturday.

    And I was probably wrong to whine and moan about only beating Navy by a field goal given the number of injuries we’ve had on defense this year. While the quarterback thing can be a challenge, on offense, we really took the fight to Navy as the video above shows. Fun stuff.

  14. twebb2 - Nov 6, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    Should we start calling him “First Down Folston“? I love his running and hope to see more of the same!

  15. fitz79 - Nov 6, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    In terms of Amir how long are we supposed to wait to see this supposed “boatload of talent,” when we got a kid like Fulston who is ready to go? The season is 3/4th over, Amir got the chance to return a punt versus Air Force and snuffed the ball. Amir had a beautiful screen set up for him in the first half of the Navy game, where he could’ve probably walked in for his first touchdown but, again, he dropped the simple, short ball. A couple plays later Rees was picked off and Navy was driving the field to take the lead. I don’t think Kelly has ever truly forgiven Amir for putting the ball on the turf against Purdue. I’m confident enough to have Amir as a 4th running back on the depth chart but that’s about it.

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