NCAA FB

RBs Riddick, Wood give Notre Dame 1-2 punch

Share This Story

   
 

MIAMI (AP)

(Eds: Edits short headline. With AP Photos.)By TIM REYNOLDSAP Sports Writer

Notre Dame tailbacks Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood showed how interchangeable they are in the final two games of the regular season for the Fighting Irish.

Game 11 against Wake Forest, Wood ran for 150 yards, while Riddick had 20.

Game 12 against USC, it was Riddick running for 146 yards, and Wood for 20.

And so has been the theme for the Irish this season: Two running backs - and sometimes three - are better than one. That approach has served Notre Dame pretty much since training camp, and the top-ranked Irish (12-0) are hoping it holds true once Monday night when they face No. 2 Alabama (12-1) in the BCS title game.

Riddick has run for 880 yards and five touchdowns this season, Wood 740 yards and four scores, and George Atkinson III - who got only 51 carries, compared with 180 for Riddick and 110 for Wood - added five touchdowns and 7.1 yards per carry.

''We try to utilize all their strengths,'' Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin said. ''The truth be told, they all could be a feature back, they all could do all the things. Everybody is like, `He plays more, what's wrong with him?' There's nothing wrong with any of the three. We'd like to get George 20 carries a game but there's one football.''

Notre Dame was unranked to start the year, which means not many - well, very few - people thought the Irish would be in the national title game against the reigning champion Crimson Tide.

Among those who thought the Irish would play in the season's last game: Riddick, Wood and Atkinson.

''We've had RB meetings where we talk about what we want to do and what we all want to accomplish,'' Wood said. ''In the beginning of the season, what we said normally was, `We want to win them all.' That was word-for-word what we said. We want to win them all. And up to this point, we have. So we took that upon ourselves. We think we're one of the more skilled groups on the whole team. That's just how we go about our business.''

Martin was asked in the days leading up to the BCS title game to describe all three backs in rapid-fire style. His responses:

On Riddick, ''pound for pound as good a football player as they make.''

On Wood, ''as explosive a player as they make.''

On Atkinson, ''really explosive athlete.''

Notice any trends there? The Irish love their backs, and Alabama is raving about what they see from them all as well.

''Riddick is probably quicker than the other two,'' Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart said. ''Great one-step quickness, the ability to make you miss, good stiff arm. Didn't think a former receiver would run with that much power, but he does run with power. They're really good backs.''

Riddick came to Notre Dame as a running back, then primarily played wide receiver for two years and returned to the backfield this season. He said he never complained, said he never wondered which position better suited him.

Whatever it took to win was fine with him, Riddick said.

''What can I say? I feel like I'm at ease,'' Riddick said. ''Everything slows down tremendously and I think it's just helped me.''

Ask anyone on the Notre Dame offensive line how Riddick has handled his return to running back, and they'll say they believe he's hitting his best stride at the perfect time.

That being, title game.

''He's been unbelievable,'' offensive lineman Zack Martin said. ''Especially in the last three or four games of the season, he's been great. To have a guy like that behind you, he's fun to block for.''

That probably can be said for Wood and Atkinson as well.

''It's a credit to all three of them that they've stuck with it and prepared hard every week, and some weeks they've gotten more touches, but that's the nature of the beast,'' said Chuck Martin, the offensive coordinator. ''But we're very fortunate to have three very talented kids at that position.''

Tagged: Alabama, Notre Dame, Cierre Wood, Zack Martin, Theo Riddick, George Atkinson III

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by

College Football Pick'em on FOX


NCAA FB Videos

AJ Pasquale's journey back to UCLA Posted: Jun 17, 2014
UCLA football ops intern AJ Pasquale describes his own personal journey after th...

Winston issued adult civil citation Posted: Apr 30, 2014
Get the latest news surrounding Jameis Winston's recent shoplifting fiasco.

Mark Emmert against unionization Posted: Apr 06, 2014
NCAA president Mark Emmert comments on unionization for student-athletes.

Get Inside the Locker Room with Scout.com

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/759777/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_759000/ff_759777_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Michigan_State_Spartans/browse/featuredproduct/760171/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_760000/ff_760171_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White
    Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_USC_Trojans/browse/featuredproduct/761373/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_761000/ff_761373_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/829709/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829709_xl.jpg&w=100 64.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimso..
    Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_LSU_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/829740/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829740_xl.jpg&w=100 49.99 Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple
    Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oklahoma_Sooners/browse/featuredproduct/830935/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_830000/ff_830935_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/861243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861243_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue
    adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Nebraska_Cornhuskers/browse/featuredproduct/861247/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861247_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapback Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1087345/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1087000/ff_1087345_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapba..
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1093431/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1093000/ff_1093431_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash