Notre Dame announced the suspension of their leading rusher, Cierre Wood, and defensive end Justin Utupo for the first two games of the season for the violation of team rules.
Wood and Utupo will miss Saturday’s season opener vs. Navy in Dublin, Ireland and the home opener vs. Purdue on September 8.
This is a disturbing trend for Notre Dame, who will start the season without last season’s starting quarterback Tommy Rees, who was suspended for the opener following his spring arrest after an off-campus party.
The suspension of Wood is especially troublesome for Brian Kelly’s team, who were counting on the 1,000 yard rusher to be a consistent and reliable option as sophomore Everett Golson matures as a college quarterback.
The Irish will now travel to Dublin without last season’s starting quarterback and lead running back with less than a week to find a viable option to replace Wood in the backfield. Although Navy is not exactly Alabama, they have dropped two of the last three games to the Midshipmen.
Although playing more of a receiving role during his time in South Bend, Theo Reddick has some experience as a ball carrier and could be in line to receive the carries in the season opener. Reddick had eight carries vs. Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl last season for 36 yards.
Perhaps, the Irish go with a running back by committee approach as they try to cope until Wood rejoins the team for the September 15 game at Michigan State.
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Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports and college football fan and the host of “The Wake-up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here.