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Cierre Wood runs roughshod over Purdue

Eric Prister | Sunday, October 2, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Irish sophomore running back Cierre Wood did not receive his first carry until the 4:15 mark in the first quarter in Saturday’s 38-10 victory over Purdue. He took the handoff from sophomore quarterback Tommy Rees and scampered 19 yards for the first down.

And that was just the beginning.

Wood carried the ball 19 more times, finishing the game with 191 yards on 20 carries, most of which he credited to his offensive line.

“My line just opened up everything — it was a free-for-all out there,” he said. “We were moving the ball exceptionally well. I just ran off their blocks and it’s just a speed boost after that.”

Wood’s 191 rushing yards from scrimmage, a career high, were the most for an Irish back since Julius Jones ran for 218 yards at Stanford in 2003.

“It felt great,” Wood said. “We always talk about ‘just another day in the office.’ I need to give a big shout out to my offensive line — it wouldn’t have been possible without them. They opened up the holes, and I just read their blocks perfectly and just got the yardage.”

Despite not receiving a touch in the first 10 minutes of the game, Wood ran for 101 yards in the first half, the best half of his career and his third 100-yard rushing game of the season.

“We just got rolling early, and we kept it going from there,” Wood said. “Our momentum was built up, and it never came down. Blocks were being made, our tackle was capping off the edge, and our tight end was capping off the edge, and we just read off our blocks. I just wanted to make an imprint in the game and keep it going in the second half as well.”

The Irish offense was clicking on all cylinders, racking up 551 yards in total offense, something Irish coach Brian Kelly said all started with the running game.

Wood said Notre Dame came into the game prepared to run the football, especially to the outside edge of the Purdue defense.

“[Getting the ball to the outside edges] was the plan coming in, but like I said, it’s all about reading the blocks and taking what the defense gives you,” he said. “I took everything — I was like a kid eating candy out there. Whatever they gave me, that was what I was going to take. It feels good [to see so much open space.]

“You just have to work on your moves, have to make the first person miss. But that’s what we’re here for — we’re football players.”

Wood’s longest run of the day came midway through the second quarter, when he took a Rees handoff 55 yards for the score. Rees said it helped the entire offense to have such a productive running game.

“It’s been working like that all year, but especially tonight, having them running and the offensive line do a great job and having both backs running hard and the receivers making blocks downfield, it’s awesome to have big chunks coming out of your running game,” Rees said.

Wood said he was satisfied with the outcome of the game, but that the Irish now must keep up the intensity for the rest of the season.

“We have to be more consistent with it,” he said. “We have to bring that for the rest of our games throughout the rest of the season, and everybody’s eyes will start to open.”