Notre Dame suspended starting tailback Cierre Wood two games for violating team rules, leaving the Fighting Irish without their 1,000-yard rusher against Navy and Purdue.
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Wood led the Irish in rushing last year with 1,102 yards and scored nine rushing touchdowns while averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Wood, a senior, played in all 13 games in 2011 with nine starts. Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III will likely be the Irish’s top two ball carriers now that Wood is out.
Coach Brian Kelly also announced Sunday that junior defensive end Justin Utupo was suspended for the games against Navy in Dublin, Ireland on Sept. 1 and the home opener the following Saturday against Purdue.
"Our players are aware of the standards I set for our program and that failure to meet my expectations will result in consequences," Kelly said in a release. "Justin and Cierre violated our team rules so I’ve suspended them for the first two games of the season."
Utupo played in 12 games in 2011, primarily on special teams, and was a reserve defensive end on the most recent Notre Dame depth chart.
Earlier, Kelly suspended quarterback Tommy Rees and linebacker Carlo Calabrese for the season opener for their roles in a skirmish with police following an off-campus party in May.
The Irish have also lost starting cornerback Lo Wood for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. He underwent surgery on Wednesday.