The way Brian Kelly sees it, Cierre Wood doesn’t change anything in the Notre Dame running game. He simply enhances it.
“No, I don’t think Cierre makes the difference in the running game,” Kelly said. “He definitely gives us more weapons in the offense that we can utilize. We’re going to have to do a great job as a staff of utilizing him. It gives us great depth, but I wouldn’t say, ‘Well, Cierre is back, you’re going to run the ball well this week.’ It just gives us more versatility and more weapons on offense.”
The Irish rushed for 293 yards in a 50-10 win over Navy, with Theo Riddick rushing for 107 yards and George Atkinson III gaining 99. But against Purdue’s stout front four, the Irish relied more on the pass, mustering just 52 yards on 36 carries. Riddick had 53 on 15 carries, and Atkinson had just one carry for zero yards. Saturday’s opponent, No. 10 Michigan State, has allowed only 109 rushing yards in its two games combined, holding Boise State and Central Michigan to an average of 2.4 yards per carry.
Kelly thinks Wood’s return can only help. Though he has lost his starting spot to Riddick, Wood averaged 5.1 yards per carry in each of the last two seasons, rushing for 1,102 yards last season.
“Great versatility,” Kelly said when asked what Wood brings to the offense. “We have to get George some more touches,
as well. Because we think we have got really three backs that have
equal starting ability. They all can be stars and starters. We have to
make sure that we integrate them all into the offense.”