Notre Dame RB Josh Adams' desire to excel hasn't changed in new system

Al Lesar
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — New body. New role. New perspective. New offense.

Josh Adams has plenty of reasons to be excited about the beginning of the Notre Dame football team’s spring experience.

Prepping for his third year as a key component of the Irish backfield, Adams has evolved into the unit’s grizzled veteran, while at the same time learning new offensive coordinator Chip Long’s scheme along with everyone else.

This was a guy with a spark in his eye and a hop in his step — far removed from the fella who trudged off the turf in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum after rushing 17 times for 180 yards in his team’s eighth loss of the year.

Amazing what a few months and a new approach can accomplish.

Head coach Brian Kelly brought in Chip Long to orchestrate and direct the offense. The new attack has been billed as being based on an up-tempo approach, in an effort to run the defense off the field.

“Going fast and being sloppy is not the end we’re after,” said Kelly. “We want to be more effective in our execution.”

“We’ve got a new scheme, a new offense,” said Adams. “Now is an opportunity to put what we’ve learned in the meeting room into practice. This is another opportunity for us to grow.

“We did a great job of conditioning in the offseason, trying to get our tempo up. To get used to playing that fast, we have to practice that fast. We did a good job in the offseason to prepare for this. A lot of what it is is being locked in mentally, knowing what to do, and when to do it. Communication makes the offense run smoothly.”

Even though there is so much new right now, the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder (Adams said this is the first time he’s actually played at that weight, though he’d been listed there before. He’d always played lighter in the past) can draw on two seasons of experience — 1,768 yards and 11 TDs on 275 carries — to navigate his way through it.

He’s able to think back to his early days and remember what he needed to hear to survive as a freshman. That allows him to help youngsters Tony Jones, Jr. (sophomore), and C.J. Holmes (freshman) through the adjustment period.

“It feels like I just got here; like I’m that guy just trying to find my spot and trying to do the best I could to get on the field,” Adams said. “It’s great because I know how it feels and I can help some of the young guys coming in. (The leadership role is) a transition that I’m getting used to.

“(A young guy needs to know) to have patience. You’re going to make a lot of mistakes coming in. Just have patience and know (good things) are going to come in time. Be patient with myself; be patient with the coaches; just know that (success) is going to come and the mistakes are going to be limited as you keep getting reps.”

Adams, in no way, claims to be a finished product. Last season was impacted before it even started. On the first day of fall camp, he sustained a hamstring injury that he said bothered him through the first few games.

He reached or surpassed 100 yards rushing four times — Nevada (10 carries, 106 yards), Syracuse (20, 102), Virginia Tech (13, 100) and Southern Cal (17, 180). The strong finish against the Hokies and Trojans has fueled his energy for this season.

“I have to do a better job of starting strong and finishing strong,” Adams said. “I felt like I didn’t do that last year. I’m trying to pick up the little things.

“I felt stronger (at the end of last season). I didn’t feel that strong at the beginning of the season battling (the hamstring injury). I was able to improve. I want to make that carry over into this season.”

New season. Same ol’ desire to be the best.

Notre Dame’s Josh Adams (33) runs the ball during the Notre Dame-Southern Cal NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, Calif. Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN