Notre Dame’s much-touted depth at running back is going to be tested
early, as coach Brian Kelly announced Sunday that first-string tailback
Cierre Wood and reserve defensive end Justin Utupo have been suspended
for the first two games of the season for violating unspecified team
“Our players are aware of the standards I set for
our program, and that failure to meet my expectations will result in
consequences,” Kelly said in a release. “Justin and Cierre violated our
team rules, so I’ve suspended them for the first two games of the
The pair will miss Saturday’s opener against Navy
in Ireland and the home opener on Sept. 8 against Purdue. They’ll stay
home with Tommy Rees, last year’s starting quarterback, and linebacker
Carlo Calabrese, both of whom are suspended for the Navy game after
their arrests in May following an off-campus party.
rushed for 1,102 yards and nine touchdowns last season, starting nine
games while splitting carries with Jonas Gray. In his absence, the
official Irish depth chart lists Theo Riddick as the starter, with
George Atkinson backing him up. Riddick only carried 14 times last year
for 63 yards, as he spent most of the season at receiver, where he
caught 78 balls over the past two seasons. Atkinson only had nine
carries as a freshman last year, but the dynamic runner returned two
kickoffs for touchdowns. USC transfer Amir Carlisle is recovering from a
broken ankle, and likely won’t be ready in time for the Navy game. With
redshirt freshman Everett Golson making his first collegiate appearance
at quarterback, there won’t be much experience in the Irish backfield.
Utupo played in 12 games last season, mostly on special teams.
Also noteworthy on the depth chart, Louis Nix III will start at nose
guard ahead of Kona Schwenke, junior Prince Shembo and sophomore Ben
Councell will start at outside linebacker, and Nick Tausch is listed as
the starting kicker.