Sep 1, 2012; Dublin, IRELAND; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back George Atkinson III (4) celebrates with running back Theo Riddick (6) after Atkinson scored a touchdown in the first quarter against the Navy Midshipmen at Aviva Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

Bye Week Grade: Notre Dame’s Running Backs


Theo Riddick

Riddick has played in all four games and has been the ‘feature’ back so far this season. He leads the team in carries with 63 and a team high 251 yards rushing with 2 touchdowns. His yards per carry average is only 3.8, which is okay but not great. Riddick also leads the team in receptions with 14 for 117 yards. For Theo’s entire college career he has moved back and forth between running back and receiver, in my opinion this makes him dangerous. He is fundamentally sound at both positions and gets a lot of playing time. Riddick is a good player, but now that Cierre is back, he should not be getting most of the load at running back. Splitting Theo Riddick out to the slot is when he is most dangerous, since he will have more open space to work with. At running back, he is confined to a certain space and I do not think his vision is that good compared to Wood or Atkinson. Riddick should still get some carries, but the slot is where he belongs.

Overall Grade: B-

Riddick is an important part of our success on offense and with his development over the years at receiver and running back he should be in most downs. The reason he should be in the slot is that his downhill running isn’t very good. He is more of a go around you type guy. This is why Wood should start and get the bulk of the carries.

Cierre Wood

As we all know Cierre was suspended for the first two games of the season. What we don’t know is what he did to receive that suspension and it must have been bad. Since Wood has come back he only has 17 carries for 99 yards, with an average of 5.6 yards a carry. Last year he rushed for 1,102 yards on 216 carries for a 5.1 average with 9 touchdowns. By far the best running back Notre Dame has and he only has 17 carries on the season? Cierre sees the holes in the defense and runs downhill much better than Theo. Each of those qualities gets him 2 or more extra yards per carry, which is what I have seen so far this season. Since the Navy game the offensive line has been struggling a little bit and it is because the lack of their veteran running back. I said at the beginning of the year, if Notre Dame wants to be successful you have to get the ball to Wood and Eifert.

Overall Grade: B+

The limited time I have seen him in the game he looks crisp on his carries cutting with precision and finding an opening in the defense. The B+ grade reflects his talent and what everyone knows he can do, which is carry this offense to some points. I hope the coaches see it in the bye week, because we need Cierre to be the guy that carries the load on offense.

George Atkinson III

The speedster that returned two kickoffs last year for touchdowns is finally seeing very limited time at running back. This guy is the real deal and with Theo and Cierre being seniors, he could be our guy next year. Atkinson has the elite speed that Notre Dame has lacked in the past. He has added some good technique to his speed this year. We already knew he had good vision going back to last year, but he needed time to mature to play running back and his time is coming. Atkinson has 19 carries for 151 yards a 7.7 yards per carry average to go along with 2 touchdowns. With Cierre and Theo it’s hard to work him into the offense at running back, but he will continue to receive limited carries throughout the year. Atkinson is the future for the Notre Dame backfield, the future looks fast.

Overall grade: B

Look for him to be a spark on special teams, but as of now he will not get much time at running back. Look for him late in games with a good lead or if Wood and Riddick get fatigued. The time we have seen Atkinson he has been good, which is why he receives a B.

Slap the Sign Grade: B

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