Notre Dame football: Carlisle sets aside feelings for father

Bob Wieneke


Early last week, Notre Dame running back Amir Carlisle was jokingly asked if he had discussed the Irish game plan for Purdue with his father, Duane, who is the Boilermakers' Director of Sports Performance.

"No," Carlisle said. "No, no, I did not."

That game plan Saturday night in 21st-ranked Notre Dame's 31-24 survival in front of 61,127 at Ross-Ade Stadium included Carlisle making his second start in three games.

It also included a number of touches going Carlisle's way early, although they came with mixed results.

The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Carlisle was the most active of the Irish backs in the first half, but a fourth-quarter fumble with Notre Dame looking to ice the game sent him to the bench in favor of Cam McDaniel.

Carlisle carried 11 times for 16 yards and added another 16 yards on three receptions.

Early on, it looked like there may be a change in Notre Dame’s approach of sharing the carries in the backfield after Carlisle gained the majority of the snaps.

As the game wore on, the time in the backfield veered back to a more shared approach before McDaniel finished it.

Change or not, there was no change in how Carlisle and his father handled game week.

"Nothing has really changed," Carlisle said one day last week after practice. "We talked about it at the beginning of the week and he said we'll leave the business on the field."

Carlisle transferred to Notre Dame from USC in January 2012 after his family moved to West Lafayette, Ind., from the San Francisco area, where Duane Carlisle was the head strength and conditioning coach of the San Francisco 49ers from 2005 to 2010.

Duane Carlisle also has held similar positions with the Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Rays and Penn State.

"I've never competed against my father," Carlisle said, "but at the end of the day it's still another game and it's a game that I've got to prepare for and I'm not going to let that distract me."

A good dose of the credit goes to his father, who not only worked with Carlisle, but also exposed him to a handful of co-workers who know a thing or two about carrying the ball.

Thanks to his father, Carlisle got to know former Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook and Frank Gore, now the 49ers’ lead back.

"That's teaching that I really embrace and have taken with me throughout my football career from my high school years," Carlisle said of the tips he's learned from Gore, who he hopes to catch up with Thanksgiving weekend when the Irish play at Stanford.

Returning to that former home, though, is a long way off. Saturday it was about a feeling of home on the road as Carlisle played in front of his family.

Earlier in the week he didn't know which colors his family would be sporting.

"Rooting for Purdue, but also rooting for me, so it's a weird situation," he said with a smile, "but it is what it is."

Notre Dame running back Amir Carlisle (3) runs the ball during an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, in West Lafayette, Ind. SBT Photo/JAMES BROSHER