Just In Time

Florida graduate Cody Riggs has been invaluable in a Notre Dame secondary hit with attrition through a 3-0 start.

In sports, depth is often the key.

It's true of ground strokes in tennis, post position in basketball, and of course, on a college football roster.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has developed this key component for his 2014 squad, a reality no better demonstrated than in the Irish defensive backfield.

During a still-competitive second half of Notre Dame's 30-14 victor over Purdue in Lucas Oil Stadium, secondary coach Kerry Cooks was without the following from his 12-player active unit:

Cornerbacks Keivarae Russell and Cole Luke; Safeties Eilar Hardy, Austin Collinsworth, Max Redfield, and Nicky Baratti.

On hand, and omnipresent since he first donned the blue and gold on August 30 against Rice was 5th-year senior transfer Cody Riggs. State of Florida product, University of Florida graduate, and Godsend in South Bend's 2014 secondary.

"Being an older guy, I'm able to mentor them and tell them about my experiences, what to expect in situations and how that can benefit them," said Riggs of the youth-filled group.

That was in August, when leaders such as Russell and Collinsworth were still in the fold. Last time the Irish took the field, it was Riggs and mostly newbies. Notre Dame's Medoza School of Business graduate student though learned early in his collegiate career that youth is no excuse.

"Having young guys come in and step up like that is really important," said Riggs of the unit's fourth quarter effort against the Boilermakers. "I haven't seen too many really good teams that haven't had freshmen and sophomores have an impact."

Riggs noted the key to thriving as a relative rookie is to learn how to fight through the season's inevitable grind.

"The most important thing is to use your time wisely. Use your off time to watch film, to rest your body, to get your legs back every day," he said. "That's the most important. You have to stay away from extra-curriculars such as staying up late, watching TV late. Get your rest and be very disciplined."

When did Riggs learn this reality?

"Early. Very early," he laughed. "I had to play some tough games my freshman year so I figured that out pretty early, that you can't burn the candle at both ends."


Collinsworth is expected back this weekend after a three-game, four-week absence following an MCL injury in his right knee, an injury suffered on the team's last day of practice prior to the season opener.

"He just got back," said Riggs following Wednesday's practice. "It feels good to have our leader back there. Our captain, we all respect him. He's a smart guy. His knowledge of the defense is very helpful."

Redfield is back after his first-half ejection (a personal foul for targeting Purdue quarterback Danny Etling) and Luke will return after suffering a concussion against the Boilers, the off-week doubtless helping his recovery.

Luke's return puts Devin Butler back to No. 3 CB status. Butler recorded his first pick in Luke's stead to help seal the deal vs. the Boilermakers.

""Dev is a longer, bigger corner," said Riggs. "He played that ball really well today. He's talented, he's young, and he has a bright future. We need Dev to play well this season to get where we need to go."

They need it from Riggs, too. In his case, more of the same will suffice.

IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories