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Searching for 'The guy'

Notre Dame's season-opening 28-6 victory over Temple wasn't a big enough sample size for coach Brian Kelly to be able to sort out how best to use his running backs going forward.

"Obviously, we played five because we're still trying to find out who that guy is," Kelly said during his Tuesday news conference. "We're not at that point where later in the year, last year, we knew when we were going to close out the game, Theo Riddick was in the ballgame, and we're not there yet. We're still searching for that. Everybody is going to have an opportunity to show that that's their job.

"All of them are very versatile. They all can do the things that we're asking them to do. We're still searching for that guy to close out ballgames."

Juniors George Atkinson III, Amir Carlise and Cam McDaniel along with freshmen Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston could all get another chance to prove they can close games when the No. 14 Irish (1-0) play at No. 17 Michigan (1-0) at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Carlise led Notre Dame's rushing attack against Temple with 68 yards on seven carries. He also caught two passes for five yards.

McDaniel had 65 rushing yards on 12 carries, and Atkinson ran for 34 yards on eight carries and caught a pass for 11 yards.

Bryant had two carries for 12 yards, and Folston gained 14 yards on five carries.

While Bryant's and Folston's playing time came late in Saturday's victory, Kelly said it's too early to tell how far the newcomers are behind his veteran running backs.

"We really I think they all have things that they need to work on," Kelly said. "I don't think we left the game going, you know, we know everything about all these guys. I think it's going to take some time for all of them to continue to work and continue to progress.

"Last year, we had arguably two seniors, if you will, two experienced players (Riddick and Cierre Wood). None of these guys have a lot of experience. So it's going to take us some time to kind of work through it. We've got some growing pains a little bit at the position, but they're all gifted players. But I think it's going to take us a little time as we grow. We're willing to play them all, and we're willing to take all of them and their strengths and try to make it work at that position."

The Journal Gazette's Assistant Sports Editor Tony Krausz covers The University of Notre Dame. Krausz, a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a native of St. Louis, has been assistant sports editor since October 2005. Prior to joining the JG, he worked at two papers in Mississippi covering high school and college athletics.