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Irish Insights

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Plenty of talent at running back

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly may not know for certain who will be his starting quarterback, but he does know the quarterback will have plenty of help in the offensive backfield.

Cierre Wood will look to build on last season when he ran for 1,102 yards and nine touchdowns.

And even though the Irish lost Jonas Gray and his 791 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns to graduation, there is plenty of talent behind Wood.

Theo Riddick returns to running back this season. Riddick ran for 160 yards as a freshman, but he has spent the last two seasons primarily at slot receiver.

Riddick will still have some slot receiver duties, but he bolsters a running game that will also include George Atkinson III, who had 915 return yards and scored two touchdowns on kick returns last year, and Amir Carlisle, who transferred from USC after gaining 118 yards on 19 carries as a freshman.

"We feel very good about the depth at that position," Kelly said. "All of them have unique qualities at the position, and, again, another group of players that as coaches we have to find ways to get them on the field and get them involved in the offense.

"Yeah, we like the guys we've got there."

Carlisle had to sit out spring practice because of a broken ankle, but Kelly said he expects big things from the USC transfer.

"I think if you take what he did at USC as a true freshman, and now his summer workouts an explosive player. He's somebody that can get big‑chunk plays at the position. A kid that wants to be the best," Kelly said. "He's just got a great make‑up and desire to want to be the guy. You love that.

"When you have a number of good players at the position, and he's not discouraged one bit that he's going to come in and be the guy. You like that confidence in his ability."