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Football: Dual threat

Sam Werner | Thursday, September 9, 2010

Most teams would be happy with one reliable running back in the backfield. Notre Dame has the enviable “problem” of having two.

Senior Armando Allen and sophomore Cierre Wood each averaged more than five yards per carry against Purdue Saturday; Allen rushed for 98 yards on 18 carries, and Wood piled up 63 yards on just seven touches.

“We knew we had two really, really good running backs,” offensive coordinator Charley Molnar said. “We left the hot back in and when he got winded, we put the next guy in and then he became the hot guy for the most part.”

While Allen still received the bulk of the carries, he said resting while Wood played allowed him to stay fresh late in the game.

“It was great [getting a rest when Cierre was in],” Allen said.

“It’s nice that whichever one of us is in, we still get great production.”

In Wood’s first four carries, he had three rushes of at least 15 yards. After he came out of the game, Allen busted loose for a 22-yard touchdown run. He said he came on the field even more motivated because of Wood’s impressive performance.

“Without a doubt,” Allen said, “Cierre is a great running back, and we use each other as motivation.”

Allen has been listed as the starter since the first depth chart came out last spring, but Wood only cracked the two-deep in the week leading up to the opener. The sophomore sat out all of last year but looked explosive in his first action in an Irish uniform. Wood only received one second-half carry, though, and Molnar said it might take some time for him to adjust to the college game.

“When you’re playing out there for the first time, you tend to burn up a lot of nervous energy before the game and during the game, and I think that was the case,” Molnar said. “I would expect him to be able to have more carries and more endurance as we go through the season.”

As Wood receives more carries, the level of competition between the two running backs will likely increase. But Molnar said Wood and Allen, along with the rest of the running backs, were always supportive of one another.

“These guys get along great,” Molnar said. “We’re really starting to form the nucleus of a team where guys are really helping each other and rooting for each other.”

Molnar said it was difficult to determine how the running back situation would shake out in the future, but acknowledged that both would get a good amount of carries.

“Really, we have a 1-A and a 1-B, and whoever’s that 1-A and 1B- is probably going to be a week-to-week proposition,” Molnar said.

Allen said that even if he was eventually supplanted by a player two years his junior, it wouldn’t bother him as long as the team played well.

“At the end of the day, we’re here to win,” Allen said. “It’s what we’re here to do, and me and Cierre understand that, no matter who is in the game. There will be times when we both want to get carries, we just have to remember that. Whatever helps us win.”