Especially if the Irish have to play without suspended star receiver Michael Floyd.
Riddick, converted from tailback to slot receiver, caught 40 passes last season, three for TDs, despite missing four games with an ankle injury.
“We’ll put him in position like we did with Mike to get the ball in his hands,” coach Brian Kelly said Saturday after a two-hour, 15-minute spring practice attended by former Florida coach Urban Meyer.
“We’ll simply call plays and get him situated so he doesn’t get doubled like we did with Mike,” Kelly added. “If Mike is not back with us, Theo Riddick will pick up that slack and we’ll make sure he gets the touches.”
Floyd, who made 79 catches for 1,025 yards and 12 TDs last season and then decided to pass on the NFL draft in favor of returning for another season, was suspended after his arrest last weekend on a drunken driving charge.
That means Notre Dame’s multidimensional spread offense could be missing its most reliable player. Floyd has a court date in May.
Backing up Armando Allen last season and then stepping in when Allen was injured, Wood showed the ability to break off big runs and make tacklers miss. He gained 603 yards, averaged 5.1 yards per carry and had three TDs.
Notre Dame lost some depth Saturday when reserve running back Cameron Roberson suffered a knee injury early in the practice. Kelly said Roberson _ who was on the scout team as a freshman last season _ would have an MRI to determine the extent of the injury.
To add some depth during the spring, the Irish may turn to walk-ons to beef up the running back position that includes 5-foot-10, 230-pound Jonas Gray, who had 100 yards on 20 carries a year ago.
Linebacker Manti Te’o, who led Notre Dame with 133 tackles a year ago, was suited up on the first day of pads but had limited participation as he recovers and rehabs from arthroscopic surgery on his knee.
Te’o sprained his knee in the Sun Bowl win over Miami and then aggravated the injury, thus the decision to have the surgery.
“It’s great we get a chance to just talk about the game and talk about the intricacies of a program like Florida and Notre Dame,” Kelly said.
By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
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