Notre Dame running back Cierre Wood feels he has gained a step from last season.
The junior closed 2010 strong when he took over the starting role for an injured Armando Allen. He ran for 306 yards on 64 carries over the final four games last season and finished as the Irish's top rusher with 603 yards.
In the first four games this season, Wood has run 393 yards and four touchdowns on 83 attempts.
"I feel great," Wood said. "I'm taking care of body, getting into the cold plunge, the hot tub. Doing the things necessary for me to maintain and play 12 games."
Wood is averaging 4.7 yards per carry and is being asked to carry the ball at least 20 times per game. It something he admits he couldn't have done last season.
"At that time my body wasn't ready," Wood said. "A lot of things just weren't right for me at that time. As I put another year under my belt, you learn how to take care of yourself. You learn what to do and not to do as far as putting things into your body."
The biggest change for the 6-foot, 215-pound back as far as taking care of himself is accepting the importance of icing down after practice in a tub of freezing water.
He said he avoided last year because it was just too cold.
"I just didn't like it," Wood said. "I would try to sit there and my lower half would just be stinging. I still hate it to this day. When I get in I put a towel over my head. I just bite the towel until I can't feel nothing no more. I'm going to hate it as long as they have a cold plunge."
On the field, Wood has become more patient and is waiting for the right time to strike when carrying the ball.
"Last year, I would get antsy and try to make the home run play at all times," Wood said. "Being in the system and having a year under my belt, you realize you can't do that and you need to take what the defense gives you."