Just as Notre Dame welcomes back one running back, it will be without another when No. 7 Stanford arrives Saturday night (7:30 ET; NBC). A knee infection will sideline sophomore Jafar Armstrong for at least one week, per multiple reports. Irish Illustrated’s Tim Prister first broke the news Friday evening.
Armstrong has taken 47 carries for 245 yards and five touchdowns this season, his first in collegiate action and his first at the position. In last week’s 56-27 victory at Wake Forest, he needed only eight attempts to rush for 98 yards before spending most of the second half enjoying the rout from the bench.
Without Armstrong, No. 8 Notre Dame will turn to junior Tony Jones, senior Dexter Williams and possibly sophomore Avery Davis. Jones is the most proven of the bunch, with 46 rushes for 263 yards and three touchdowns this season to go along with four catches for 88 yards. He has already surpassed his season totals from 2017 of 44 carries for 232 yards and three scores.
Williams has not yet played this season after serving an unofficial suspension that Notre Dame never confirmed due to student privacy concerns. Irish head coach Brian Kelly did indicate during the week Williams would return to the field against the Cardinal. Arguably Notre Dame’s best big-play rusher, Williams’ return was long anticipated even before Armstrong’s injury.
Something of a work in progress as he transitions to running back from quarterback, Davis looked to be an afterthought this week with Williams knocking him down a notch in the pecking order. Davis has needed 13 carries to gain 41 yards, though he appeared a bit more comfortable in the position last week, rushing nine times for 43 yards.