Some may call them a stable of running backs, but others may call them The Legion. You will see George Atkinson III, Cierre Wood, and Theo Riddick run at each other when one of them scores and stop right before they would jump to celebrate, put their hands together and bow. These guys have a comradery among themselves, which is what makes them special. They are not selfish and will do anything to win. Between Atkinson III, Wood, and Riddick they have amassed 1,981 rushing yards and all of them averaging over 4.8 yards a carry.
With Cierre Wood suspended the first two games of the season, Theo got his shot to be the number one running back. Against Navy he rushed 19 times for 107 yards and two touchdowns a 5.63 yards per carry average. He then struggled against Purdue, Michigan State, and Michigan and only received 5 carries against Miami, but scored a touchdown. After these games I was ready for Cierre to be the number one running back again, but I was wrong. Over the last seven games Riddick has shown what he is capable of, juking defenders, quickness, and running through defenses to the point they can’t bring him down. He didn’t play much against Wake Forest, but that wasn’t a game from the start. Theo led the team in carries with 180 for 880 yards a 4.89 average and 5 touchdowns. Then he added 35 receptions for 364 yards and 1 touchdown, bringing his total yards to 1,244. For Notre Dame to have a chance at winning a national championship they will have to expect Theo to make plays on the ground and in the air.
Overall Grade: B+
After being suspended the first two games of the season, he has produced as expected in all but one game he has played. That being against USC carrying the ball 8 times for 20 yards, but he didn’t look 100%. Wood had 3 100 yard affairs against, Miami, BYU, and Wake Forest. He also had a big game against Oklahoma running 62 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. After rushing for over 1,000 yards last year, he took a step back when he was suspended, but he has still had a good season. With 110 carries 740 yards averaging 6.73 yards per carry and 4 touchdowns. It isn’t set in stone who gets more carries Wood or Riddick, it just depends who is performing better during the game. You get pros and cons with both and it just depends who is on fire.
Overall Grade: B
George Atkinson III
The true sophomore that lit it up last year in the return game and has been the 3rd back on the depth chart this season. He only averages 4.64 rushing attempts per game, but rushed for over 100 yards against Miami and had 99 against Navy. He has the highest yards per carry average with 7.08 yards per carry. GAIII has rushed 51 times for 361 yards this season and 5 touchdowns. His return game hasn’t been like last year, simply because the blocking hasn’t been very good. On 19 kickoff returns Atkinson III has amassed 394 yards a 20.74 yards per return average. Adding those together he has 755 total yards this season, which is contributing a lot as a young player. They have used him in motion when Golson is under center as a decoy to keep the defense honest when playing the inside run. His speed alone makes him a good player, but he has potential to be a great player. He is still a liability when it comes to pass blocking, but look for him to improve a lot in the offseason and become a more complete back.
Overall Grade: B-