Notre Dame running back Cierre Wood makes sure he is ready every week for the Irish by going up against some of the best his team has to offer.
The senior, who returned from a two-game suspension last Saturday in Notre Dame's 20-3 road win over Michigan State, would challenge himself by trying to beat safety Harrison Smith last season.
When Smith graduated and was selected in the first round of the NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings, Wood had to go to his No. 2 defender from last season – linebacker Manti Te'o.
"The second person who I had that with was Manti," Wood said of the practice challenges he had with Smith last year. "One time I asked (Te'o), 'Yo, what do you be looking at when you look into the backfield?' "He's like, 'I'm looking at you.' I was like, 'Good because I'm looking right at you too.'
If I'm staring, I'm staring right in his eyes. And I know he is thinking, 'What is he about to do?' And I'm thinking, 'What is he about to do? If he does this, I'm going to do that.'
We play off each other really."
Wood, who ran for 56 yards against the Spartans, said he gets the best of the one-on-one matchups against Te'o.
"He thinks he can guard me, but he can't," Wood said. "I don't care how good he is, he can't guard me."
Wood will need that confidence again this weekend as the No. 11 Irish (3-0) play host to No. 18 Michigan (2-1) on Saturday night.
Last year, the 6-foot, 215-pound senior ran for 134 yards with a touchdown in a 35-31 loss to the Wolverines.
Wood said he looks to have a repeat performance as Notre Dame tries to end a three-game losing streak to Michigan this weekend.
"I'm really excited," Wood said. "I had a great game against them last year. We had a great game plan, and we have an even better game plan this year. I'm excited to see how it plays out."