Notre Dame Football: Why Majority of Pressure Rests on RB Cierre Wood and Not QB
As popular opinion in Notre Dame football circles states, the fortunes of the 2012 Fighting Irish squad rest solely upon the shoulders of yet-to-be-announced starting quarterback.
But as Lee Corso would say, "not so fast, my friend."
Because of the combined lack of experience between Andrew Hendrix and Everett Golson, the pressure has naturally shifted to the running game. I'm looking at you, Cierre Wood.
Last season, Wood had the best season any Notre Dame running back has had since Darius Walker in 2006.
Wood accumulated 1,102 rushing yards on 217 carries to go along with nine touchdowns. Those numbers would have been even larger had former Irish back Jonas Gray not torn his ACL during the latter portion of the regular season.
Those sparkling figures also came during a season in which opposing defenses were forced to respect the Irish passing game because of former wide receiver Michael Floyd's presence on the field. Floyd has since graduated and joined the NFL's Arizona Cardinals.
Floyd's departure leaves Notre Dame with All-American tight end Tyler Eifert as the lone true weapon in the passing game, heaping enormous amounts of pressure on an Irish rushing attack that finished last season ranked 51st nationally at a clip of 166 yards-per-game.
And with Cierre Wood stepping into the role of feature back for Notre Dame, the Oxnard, California native will feel the bulk and weight of that pressure to produce gaudy numbers on a weekly basis.
Will it make him or break him? That subplot to the story of the 2012 offense ranks as, perhaps, the most intriguing behind the battle for starting quarterback duties.
Wood has faced seemingly insurmountable odds before, mind you.
The 6'0", 215-pound Wood, who was rated as a 4-Star prospect as a prep phenom at Santa Clara High School, turned down scholarship offers from the likes of Florida, Auburn, Nebraska, UCLA and USC to attend Notre Dame.
Upon committing to Notre Dame during the weekend of the 2008 Blue-Gold Game, Wood likely expected playing time as a freshman, particularly due to his billing as a Top 100 recruit. Unfortunately for Wood, he was redshirted as a freshman in 2009.
He could have transferred, especially after the coach who recruited him to South Bend, Charlie Weis, was fired immediately following the season finale at Stanford.
Yet, Wood chose to stay at Notre Dame and climb his way up the depth chart, where he currently finds himself as the starter.
The spotlight is finally glowing upon you, Mr. Wood.
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