Atkinson, Carlisle aim to carry load for Irish


Notre Dame heads into its season-opener against Temple looking for a running back to emerge.

The top two on the depth chart are George Atkinson III and Amir Carlisle, who are both looking to show they can be reliable every down backs. But they have different challenges to overcome.

Atkinson needs to be more than a change-of-pace back with breakaway speed, while Carlisle needs to show his body can take a pounding after missing last season with an ankle injury involving a nerve problem and then missing the end of spring practice with a broken collarbone.

Coach Brian Kelly expects junior Cam McDaniel, freshman Greg Bryant and others to contribute as well, saying the Irish have the most depth at running back he's ever had as a coach.

Massa back to QB

Kelly says wide receiver Luke Massa will be the third-string quarterback for the 14th-ranked Fighting Irish on Saturday because freshman Malik Zaire has not been medically cleared to play against Temple as he recovers from mononucleosis.

Kelly said Thursday that Massa took snaps during practice this week to get him ready to play. Massa was recruited to Notre Dame as a quarterback, but switched to wide receiver in the spring of 2011 when he was fifth among quarterbacks on the depth chart. Kelly says he hopes not to have to use Massa against Temple because of injuries, but says Massa can run the offense.

Kelly says he expects Zaire to be cleared for the game against Michigan on Sept. 7.

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