Ready to stand alone – Michael FloydFloyd set the program's touchdown reception record (28) with two TD grabs in the Sun Bowl last December, breaking a tie with Golden Tate (2007-09) on his first scoring grab, and surpassing Jeff Samardzija (2004-06) with his second.
The All-America candidate should break three more major receiving records prior to the first fallen leaf next September. But that's assuming he's fully reinstated to the squad by head coach Brian Kelly following a well-publicized spring suspension after being arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.
Career receptions: Floyd has 171 receptions in 30 career games (29 starts), one more than Rhema McKnight (2002-06) to rank second on the Irish list. Look for Samardzija's career mark of 179 to fall early in Week Two at the Big House.
Career receiving yards: Floyd's 2,539 ranks third behind Samardzija (2,593) and former teammate Golden Tate (2,707). Floyd passed Irish legends Tim Brown and Derrick Mayes' career totals during the 2010 Sun Bowl win over Miami, and should take over Tate by Week Two in Ann Arbor, if not the second half of the season opener vs. South Florida.
100-yard games: Tate holds the record with 15 thanks to a record-setting nine 100-yard outings in 2009. Floyd tied Irish legend Tom Gatewood (1969-71) with a 109-yard effort in the Sun Bowl and needs three 100-yard outings to supplant Tate atop the list. Not yet healthy for an entire collegiate season – Floyd came close last year, playing a career-best 12 of 13 contests – the senior's single-season best was five 100-yard outings in 2009. Look for three contests in exceeding the century mark by mid-season 2011.
Scrimmage BattlesAt least four defensive upperclassmen are poised to move up the ranks in key statistical categories this season.
Sacks: Seniors Ethan Johnson and Darius Fleming enter their final seasons with 12.5 career sacks, good for 11th on the all-time program list (sacks were first recorded in 1982). In their sites Game One is former defensive tackle Wally Kleine (1983-86) with 13, while Bert Berry, 16.5 sacks as outside linebacker and drop end from 1993-96; Anthony Weaver (17 as a defensive lineman, 1998-2001),; and defensive tackle Bryant Young (18 during his standout 1990-93 career) could each move down a notch by mid-November.
Should either Fleming or Johnson reach 20 career sacks, they'd surpass Ryan Roberts (1999-2002) and Renaldo Wynn (1993-96) for fifth-place on the all-time list. Johnson and/or Fleming would have to double their career best single-season outputs to replace Justin Tuck (24.5 from 2002-2004) atop the program list. The standing of the program's remaining top four: Kory Minor (22.5), Victor Abiamiri (21.5), and Mike Gann (21) also appear safe.
Career tackles: The program's career mark of 521 tackles by Bob Crable (1978-81) is unlikely to be challenged by a modern-day, four-year player, but junior Manti Te'o, thanks to a sterling 133-tackle season last fall, has quickly moved within range of the school's Top 10 list. Te'o 196 stops are but 101 away from Brandon Hoyte's 297, recorded from 2002-2005, while Tom Zbikowski (300, 2004-07), and Maurice Crum, Jr., (306, 2005-08) are also within range this fall.
Should Te'o remain with the Irish as a senior in 2012, the following program legends would be within range/shouting distance:
- Ross Browner (340 in 1973, 1975-77)
- Mike Kovaleski (353 from 1983-86)
- Tony Furjanic (361 from 1982-85)
- Bob Olson (369 from 1967-69)
- Steve Heimkreiter (398 from 1975-78)
Bob Golic (479 from 1975-78) and the aforementioned Crable (521), would be difficult to catch – the latter implausible in the program's modern era.
Movin' on upSenior safety Harrison Smith could conclude his career among the program's Top 10 in one mark (interceptions) and Top 5 in another (Passes broken up). Smith recorded the first seven interceptions of his Irish career last fall; with four more he'll tie Todd Lyght (1987-90) and Shane Walton (1999-02) for 9th on the all-time list. Both Lyght and Walton were first-team All-America selections during their time at the program (Lyght twice, 1989-90).
Also within range of Smith are Dave Duerson (12, 1979-82) and John Lattner (1951-53), Clarence Ellis (1969-71), Ralph Stepaniak (1969-71), Mike Townsend (1971-73), and Joe Restic (1975-78), each with 13 career picks.
Tom MacDonald's 15 INT's ranks second on the program's list behind record-holder Luther Bradley (17, 1973-77). Mike Townsend is the only player in team history to record 10 picks in a single season, the number Smith would need to tie Bradley at season's end.
Smith's seven pass break-ups last season matched his career best; he has 18 career entering 2011, tied with Vontez Duff (2000-03) for 9th-place in team history. In immediate range for Smith are #8 Thomas O'Leary (19, 1965-67), #6 Ralph Stepaniak (1969-71) and 2010 teammate Darrin Walls (both with 20); as well as #5 Todd Lyght's mark of 20.5.
Dave Waymer (22, 1976-79) and Walton (25) will both be threatened as well, though Smith would need double-digit pass breakups to supplant Bradley (27) or career-leader Ellis (32) for the top spot.
Of note: Smith enters 2011 with 219 total tackles in 38 games (34 starts). He needs 82 to break Tom Zbikowski's program-record by a defensive back. Zbikowski recorded 300 stops in 48 games (48 starts). One caveat: Smith started at strong-side linebacker in 2008, and played six games at the position in 2009.
Odds and EndsDavid Ruffer set the program mark with 23 consecutive made field goals, finally missing his last attempt of the 2010 season. Should he connect on a field goal in each of the first five contests, he'd pass Nick Setta with 17 consecutive games with at least one successful field goal. Setta connected in 16 straight games from the end of 2000 through the early portion of 2002.
The last Irish runner to eclipse 100 rushing yards in a single game? Armando Allen, who fought for 106 in a November 2009 Senior Day loss to Connecticut.
Notre Dame has not won five straight games since it prevailed in eight straight from Week Four 2006 through Week 11. The Irish enter 2011 with a four-game winning streak.
Notre Dame has not allowed two or fewer offensive touchdowns in six straight games since the first seven contests of 2002. The Irish enter 2011 with a streak of five from 2010: Tulsa (1), Utah (0), Army (0), USC (1), and Miami (2 in garbage time) to conclude the season.
Finally, Notre Dame has not concluded (or entered) a season ranked since 2006, and has exited a season with a higher national ranking than which it entered since 2005, and have done so only four times since 1993 (1998, 2000, 2002, 2005).
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