Notre Dame's Wood gets his swagger back

Notre Dame's Wood gets his swagger back
September 20, 2012, 9:18 pm
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Three weeks ago, Cierre Wood sat at his South Bend apartment, only able to watch from his couch as his teammates rumbled by Navy in Dublin, Ireland.

"I actually got up to watch it, I like to sleep in and stuff like that," Wood deadpanned. "I woke up and I watched it. I had to cheer on my teammates. Thats what a good leader does, thats what a good teammate does and thats what I was doing."

That's all Wood could do. He was serving the first of his two-game suspension that week, stuck in northern Indiana while Notre Dame traveled thousands of miles to play in Dublin.

"It was terrible," Wood said. "I was cheering on my teammates, being a great team player, and stuff like that. But just not playing was terrible. You practice all summer, put in so much work and so much time, and to not play those first two games was heartbreaking, especially for me. But I remain positive, my teammates kept me up and I just cheered them on from afar."

But in making the best of a bad situation, Wood had a little fun with the game on Twitter:

Well that scrimmage is over! ND

DUBB (@stadium20status) September 1, 2012
When he wasn't on twitter, Wood was texting fellow running back and roommate Theo Riddick, who gouged Navy for 107 yards and two touchdowns.

"I was just critiquing him, I was basically laughing at him because a couple times I know he got hit and it hurt," Wood said with a grin. "I texted him, I was like I know that hurt.'"

"I said yeah," Riddick laughed. "It was the truth."

Wood started taking those hard hits in game action last week in East Lansing, gaining 56 yards on 10 carries against Michigan State. He led Notre Dame in rushing last year with 1,102 yards and an average of about 18 carries per game.

Both numbers will certainly be lower this year, with Wood missing the first two games and the Irish featuring three running backs instead of two. Wood admitted he had trouble getting into a rhythm against Michigan State as he, Riddick and George Atkinson III were cycled into the offense, but sees employing the three backs as a positive.

"The way we come in and come out, its basically fresh legs on the field at all times, so its like nobody never really came out as far as the running backs go," Wood said. "All three of us have a great amount of talent, so them putting us around different positions on the field is going to make our team that much better."

Wood normally exudes confidence, but kept his gaze downward while talking to media for the first time this season on Wednesday, seemingly bracing for the first question about his suspension. But once he got past that, Wood's usual swagger showed through.

When asked about his practice rivalry with Manti Te'o -- the pair are close -- Wood quickly responded with plenty of bravado, and a straight face.

"He thinks he can guard me, but he cant," Wood said. "I dont care how good he is, he cant guard me."

And in discussing last year's last-second loss to Michigan, Wood offered another proclamation.

"In any game you cant be too sure about anything, you cant take your foot off the gas pedal," he explained. "Thats what I feel we did, the results were what they were.

"This year, theres gonna be a different outcome."