After three games Notre Dame has seen marked improvement from the play of its running backs. Despite legitimate depth questions entering the season, Irish 'backs have proven their worth early, with increased production compared to the same juncture last season.
Behind the running of junior Cierre Wood, production for the Irish offensive attack has increase by 101 yards and a whopping three touchdowns after the first three games.
When asked about running backs coach Tim Hinton, head coach Brian Kelly had nothing but praise.
“He's a great ball coach,” said Kelly. “You know, first of all, he's a great person to be around. I enjoy coming to work every day and working with Tim. He's just got an upbeat personality. The glass is always half full. You know, he takes it upon himself, if the ball is on the ground, it's a personal accountability for everything.”
Wayne Litmer, IrishEyes.com
One area Kelly was adamant about when talking about Hinton was how he works with his players and his role in each week's game plan.
“He never blames the player,” said Kelly. “He always takes responsibility for himself in terms of our running backs.
“He plays a huge role in what we do in terms of developing our protection schemes, blitz pickups; he's outstanding at diagnosing those things.
“So he's a very valuable part of our staff, but also somebody that I really enjoy being around.”
Early indications suggest Wood and Jonas Gray agree with Kelly, as both players are averaging 5-yards or more per carry.
Prior to his final season, the senior Gray said fondly of of his position coach, "Coach Hinton does a great job of instilling that (physical) mentality in me, even in practice...that’s a big thing for me."
Gray noted in August that he hears Hinton's reminders echoing each time he hits the field, sometimes even off it.
“Always, it’s a good voice and it’s a voice that I need. It’s a positive thing.”
While the Irish may be thin at the running back, Hinton's respected approach has them ready to compete each week.