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August 26, 2012
Notre Dame suspended running back Cierre Wood and defensive end Justin Utupo on Sunday for a violation of team rules. Both will be suspended for the season-opener against Navy and for the home-opener against Purdue.
Irish Illustrated reported the news of Wood's suspension earlier in the day, although at the time the length of the suspension appeared unclear.
"Our players are aware of the standards I set for our program and that failure to meet my expectations will result in consequences," Brian Kelly said in a statement. "Justin and Cierre violated our team rules so I've suspended them for the first two games of the season."
Wood led Notre Dame with 1,102 yards rushing last season, becoming the program's first 1,000-yard back in five years. He was expected to challenge for that mark again this season. Theo Riddick is expected to start at running back in Wood's place. That would make George Atkinson III the likely back-up.
Utupo is a reserve defensive end and not expected to make an impact for Notre Dame this season aside from potentially on special teams
The suspensions should presumably cap a tumultuous off-season for the Irish as Kelly enters his third season in South Bend.
The Irish have also been hit by a rash of injuries during camp, losing starting cornerback Lo Wood (Achilles) and tight end Alex Welch (knee) for the year. Offensive tackle Tate Nichols (knee) and linebacker Danny Spond (migraines) have also missed time. Starting receiver John Goodman has been battling an injury in the past week, likely elevating DaVaris Daniels into the starting lineup.
Wood's availability to the program has been a nagging question throughout training camp when he missed the opening practices due to "paperwork" issue, according to Kelly. Wood has been off-limits to the media throughout the pre-season, the only projected starter not to speak to reporters.