Notre Dame running back George Atkinson III is listed as starter when the 14th-ranked Irish open Saturday against Temple.
The ex-Granada High star was third on the team last year with 361 yards rushing and had an impressive 7.1 yards a carry.
Atkinson said he focused last season on trying to make big plays because he knew he wasn't going to get a lot of carries.
"Now, just maturing as a player, realizing not every play is going to be a big one. ... You just have to keep pushing the ball," said the son of former Raiders great George Atkinson Jr.
The Fighting Irish are adding a new wrinkle this season, installing the pistol formation.
"He's got great speed and acceleration. We felt like the pistol could fit him very well," coach Brian Kelly said of Atkinson.
USC transfer Amir Carlisle will also get carries against the Owls. He could also see some action as a slot receiver.
Former Saint Mary's College player and current Oakland A's farmhand Anthony Aliotti hit a walk-off home run in the ninth inning to give Sacramento a 4-3 Triple-A victory over Fresno at Raley Field on Wednesday night.
Wire services contributed to this report.