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RB Josh Adams carrying a load for No. 21 Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Josh Adams was asked what he's working on as No. 21 Notre Dame gets ready for Saturday's game at North Carolina.

The answer from the big running back would make his coaches proud.

"I need to do a better job of playing without the ball, pass protect and run routes full speed," Adams said. "The little things you can always do better at."

So far, Adams is doing a lot right for the Fighting Irish (4-1), averaging 131.6 yards through five games to go with four touchdowns. The 6-2, 225-pound junior is determined to finish every run and get in the end zone, where the Irish are a perfect 22 for 22 in the red zone, one of 12 FBS teams to remain unblemished in that category.

"You don't want to go all the way down there and do that much work to just stop short," he said. "The running back's job is to finish the run and put points on the board."

Adams started last week's game with a 73-yard touchdown run against Miami (Ohio), giving the Irish a lead they never relinquished. He finished the first half, and game, with 159 yards on eight carries along with two TDs.

Adams is the nation's fourth-leading running back with 658 yards on 73 carries — the fewest of any player in the top 10.

After the game, coach Brian Kelly said this of his star back: "Josh has got to start getting national recognition for the kind of season he's having. He is a load. He's a big, physical runner who gets in the open and then runs away from people. This is a special back who's having a special year."

Kelly's commitment to change the focus of the offense toward a more physical approach for running the ball has paid off. Against Boston College, both Adams and quarterback Brandon Wimbush rushed for over 200 yards, the first time two Notre Dame players have done so in the same game.

Adams has taken advantage of this new physical approach, and while he's only averaging 14.6 carries per game so far his usual load will probably be around 18 or 19 carries as he and Wimbush spearhead the rushing attack. Adams already has three games this season of at least 100 yards.

With Wimbush nursing a foot injury and backup Ian Book taking snaps with the No. 1 offense, the game plan might feature a heavier dose of Adams. He said he's not worried who calls the plays on Saturday against the Tar Heels (1-4) behind the Irish offensive line.

"(As an offense), I think we know we can do more. I think we have guys that want to do more," he said.

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