The true sophomore running back is having a breakout season and making himself a household name in the ACC.
Kyren Williams finished 2019 with just 23 rushing yards. However, through 10 games this fall the former four-star prospect has 1,011 yards on the ground to go along with 13 total touchdowns. Williams is the first Fighting Irish running back to rumble for over a 1,000 yards since 2017, and he currently ranks sixth in the Power Five in rushing entering the last week of the regular season.
Not too shabby for the Saint Louis native, who has six 100-yard games under his belt, including a career-high, 185 in the win over Florida State. Williams is tied for second in the ACC in rushing scores and averages 101.1 yards per game on the ground.
Notre Dame (10-0) is approaching its’ biggest game of the season in a rematch against Clemson and Coach Brian Kelly is going to need Williams to deliver again. The five-foot-nine, 195-pounder shredded the Tigers defense for 140 rushing yards and three scores in the first clash. Not to mention he outshined Clemson’s All-American running back Travis Etienne.
Now Notre Dame fans are pondering what Williams can do for an encore. His rare blend of speed, vision and quickness is what makes him a special player in the Fighting Irish’s offense. Williams also has soft hands, with 24 catches out of the backfield this season. He’s vital because he keeps the pressure off of quarterback Ian Book, plus he requires attention from opposing defenses on every play.
Notre Dame is out to prove its’ first win over Clemson was no fluke. Naysayers aren’t giving Kelly’s team much of a chance against a Trevor Lawrence-led Tiger team, but that’s why the games are played on the field and not on paper. A win over the Tigers would keep the Fighting Irish in that No. 2 position in the Playoff rankings, but a loss would likely drop them out of the top-four.
Still, Kelly’s team has a ton of momentum, while all the pressure will be on Dabo Swinney’s squad. Texas A&M, Iowa State and Cincinnati are all knocking on the door for that Playoff glory, so Notre Dame can’t afford to have a lackluster performance Saturday afternoon.
Clemson’s Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables will try to have his unit stop Williams from getting into a groove like last time. Which means Kelly will have to find more creative ways to get Williams touches. Notre Dame led Clemson in total plays, yards and time of possession a month ago.
That game plan worked to perfection and if the Fighting Irish want to walk away with their 11th win on the season, Kelly is going to need his young running back in all hands on deck mode again.