Aldridge Makes Anticipated Debut

SOUTH BEND - Walking over to the student section following a 31-10 win over Stanford, Notre Dame football players were talking about James Aldridge amongst each other.

"What about James!"

"That was a nice one for James!"

It seemed like even they were in anticipation of the freshman running back's debut.

Though it was short and quick, Aldridge added excitement to the final two minutes of the game, excitement that was mostly missing during the 58 previous minutes. In four carries, Irish players and everybody else was impressed.

The 6-foot, 209-pound Aldridge gained 25 yards, showing a burst, the ability to cut on the once injured knee and being able to carry tacklers in averaging 6.2 yards per carry. With the Stanford defense loaded up in the box, the Crown Point, Ind. product looked close to hitting a homerun.

Aldridge actually lost a yard on his first carry, but gained 11, 10 and five on the next three.

"Yeah James, that was real nice to see," starting running back Darius Walker said. "We were all jumping and hollering on the sidelines. We're happy."

It doesn't seem like there is any reason to worry about how Aldridge is going to comeback from the knee injury that kept him out the spring and most of the season. He doesn't seem worried about it as he carries the football.

Weis obviously has plans for Aldridge the second half of the season. There was a chance he could have saw action for the first time last week against Purdue, but the wet conditions vetoed any thoughts of him seeing the field.

"Last week when that situation presented itself, we had a sloppy field the kid is coming off a knee, the last thing I wanted to do was pound him inside for a few runs which is what we did today, we pounded him inside for a few runs, and have a sloppy field the first day out, the kid is a little bit scared the first time anyway," head coach Charlie Weis explained. "So today I had an opportunity to give him a few carries, I'm certainly not going to throw the ball in that situation, I'm certainly not trying to score.

"I think it's important in his case to go ahead and get, the coaching analogy, just get his feet wet, get in there and get a couple reps in there where he gets tackled by the bad guys. I think that will only have a positive residual effect."

Well Aldridge's feet are wet for the second half of the season, as the 12th-ranked Irish (5-1) try to make a charge for the National Championship. It isn't clear how Weis plans to use him, but we know he likes to use two backs over the course of a game and season, and freshman Munir Prince hasn't stepped up and assumed the role through six games.

After hearing the amount of reps Aldridge has been getting in practice, following the bye week, his role could very well be larger.

"He was in a lot of our offense for the game plan, we just didn't really get to it," receiver Jeff Samardzija said. "He's going to play, he is going to make some plays and it's good to see him running around."

"He's been practicing and what not and really getting some work in," quarterback Brady Quinn said. "He's looked great so far so hopefully we will get to see a little bit more of him in the future."

There is no doubt that's what Notre Dame fans are saying across the nation.


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