Notre Dame Football: Why Theo Riddick Is Irish's Most Important Player vs Purdue

Justin Goldman@JGoldmanASUCorrespondent ISeptember 4, 2012

Notre Dame running back Cierre Wood
Notre Dame running back Cierre WoodBarry Cronin/Getty Images

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are coming off of a big Week 1 victory against Navy in a game that saw them put up 50 points and amass 490 yards of total offense. In Week 2, the Irish will face a tougher opponent in Purdue, and must be at the top of their game. Running back Theo Riddick had a great performance against Navy, and he will need to build on that for Week 2. Riddick is Notre Dame's most important player against Purdue.

The Irish are looking to prove that they are a team that can contend for a BCS berth. Everett Golson played well in his debut and the defense shined, giving up only 10 points to a stingy Midshipmen team.

The biggest surprise in their opening game was the play of receiver-turned-running back Theo Riddick. He collected 107 yards on 19 carries and even found the end zone twice.

In Week 2 against Purdue, Riddick will need to be at the top of his game, especially since the return of original starter Cierre Wood draws closer.

The Fighting Irish are going to have to run the ball often against Purdue in order to continue to help ease Everett Golson into the starting spot. So it is on the legs of senior Theo Riddick to help the sophomore find his.

Purdue gave up over 100 yards on the ground to a weak Eastern Kentucky team, so it seems logical that Notre Dame should have more success on the ground.

Riddick looked solid against Navy. He displayed great power and vision, and he had no issue finding holes to run through.

He is also a threat out of the backfield. With a background as a receiver, he understands coverages and where to exploit them. As a security blanket for Golson, he could end up with more catches in Week 2 against the Boilermakers.

It should also be mentioned that Riddick will have some help in the backfield. Sophomore George Atkinson III had a strong showing against Navy to complement Riddick's. Atkinson put up 99 yards on just nine carries, and he punched it into the end zone twice.

Riddick will continue to get the reps at starter, however. Still, any and all help is welcome for an Irish team that is still without regular starter Cierre Wood. Wood's return in a couple weeks will give Notre Dame a formidable attack on the ground.

Against Purdue, though, it will be on Theo Riddick to be at his Saturday best for the Irish to come out with a victory.