Emphasis on north-south running helps Irish RB Wood

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Emphasis on north-south running helps Irish RB Wood

LOS ANGELES -- Cierre Wood's 2012 stats aren't eye-popping -- 720 yards, four touchdowns -- but make no mistake, he's the most explosive weapon Notre Dame's offense has.

"He is locked in," coach Brian Kelly said. "He's getting more north and south in his running. The insideoutside zone scheme is set to run north and south. We don't want a lot of cutting."

Wood's propensity to cut and move to his left and right has cost him on some occasions, as did a two-game suspension to begin the season. But in Wood's nine games in 2012, he hasn't averaged fewer than five yards per carry, and has broke off touchdown runs of 62 and 68 yards.

On both those long runs, Wood powered through a hole and took off -- he wasn't trying to juke anyone. That's been a coaching point for Kelly, especially as it relates to Wood in Notre Dame's blocking setup.

"It is much more difficult to make a headon tackle," Kelly explained. "It's easier to run with speed and make an angle tackle. When you're running north and south, we have run through so many tackles this year when we get north and south, and so that's been a point of emphasis going into the fall."

Wood has made it no secret he wants more carries, but knows Notre Dame's crowded backfield -- which includes his roommate, Theo Riddick, and sophomore George Atkinson III -- means he'll rarely get more than 20 carries in a game. He admitted earlier in the year that his decreased carries have led him to try to break big plays every time he touches the ball.

"I see a hole, Im trying to get through as fast as possible and get tot he next level because I know there isnt any secondary out there that can handle me, let alone the rest of the RBs and stuff," Wood said in October. "Once I get to that level its all about just making the next man miss and taking it to the crib."

What Kelly and his coaching staff have tried to drive into Wood's mentality, though, is that the best way to be that big-play guy is to run downhill. He did that against Wake Forest, taking an option pitch from Everett Golson and running through the Deacons' defense for a touchdown.

"He was looking to cut off of somebody, you know, he was resisting the temptation," Kelly said of the option play. "When he runs north and south, we all know what he's capable of."

Rangers win riveting goaltending duel over Blackhawks in overtime

Rangers win riveting goaltending duel over Blackhawks in overtime

Antti Raanta stopped all 26 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season and Nick Holden netted the winner as the New York Rangers beat the Blackhawks 1-0 in overtime on Friday night.

The Blackhawks, playing without Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford, are now 1-2-1 in their last four games. Nevertheless, they remain atop the Western Conference with 38 points.

Scott Darling stopped 36 of 37 shots in the loss.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Two seasons ago Darling and Raanta battled for the Blackhawks’ backup spot. Friday marked their first head-to-head matchup, and it was stellar.

The Blackhawks thought they broke the scoreless tie six minutes into the third period, when Marian Hossa got one past Raanta. But the Rangers challenged for offside and officials agreed, nullifying the goal.

Blackhawks preparing for EPIX all-access look leading up to Winter Classic

Blackhawks preparing for EPIX all-access look leading up to Winter Classic

The 2017 Winter Classic featuring the Blackhawks and Blues is right around the corner.

Players from both sides already squared off in a game of NHL 17 to generate some hype into the game, but nothing compares to behind-the-scenes footage of the two teams leading up to it.

Beginning Dec. 16 at 9 p.m., EPIX will air a one-hour episode each week that provides an all-access look inside the lives of the Blackhawks and Blues, on and off the ice.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The game will be on Jan. 2 at 12 p.m. on NBC, with the final episode airing Friday, Jan. 6.

Here's a two-minute preview involving the Blackhawks, who are labeled "A Good Bunch of Guys."