Finishing Strong?

5th-year senior John Goodman knows he didn't meet expectations in his senior season of 2011. And he knows whose fault it is as well…

Notre Dame's former "W" wide receiver had little issue translating his off-field confidence and skills between the lines.

Of course, 38 touchdowns, more than 2,600 yards, and nearly 275 catches tends to boost a guy's confidence and approach.

That's the void the team's new "W" wide receiver must fill as John Goodman step's into his former classmate's role.

"When you lose an All-American and the team MVP, you definitely need someone to step up. I definitely took that role into play," said Goodman of record-setting star Michael Floyd. "I thought about that since he left. That's one of my closer friends on the team, it's hard to see him go, but somebody has to fill in that role. I was accountable for my own actions and taking that leadership role from him."

What Goodman won't take from Floyd are any of his receiving records: single-season or otherwise. He doesn't have to, but he does have to improve drastically on a shaky senior season last fall, one in which he caught fewer passes for fewer yards than in his junior year (2010) under then first-year Irish head man, Brian Kelly.

"It was definitely my fault last year: the playing time, the catches, and how many minutes I had total," Goodman admitted. "Eventually I worked my way through the season, just working on the small things to get better and better. I think that's what coach was looking at throughout the season: ‘Is he going to fight through all those little things and fight through the mental aspects (in which) he was lacking before'?

"And that was my (approach) as well. It was all mental for me. I think that was the reason my minutes diminished last year. Hopefully they'll increase this year."

Goodman pulled a hamstring during August camp 2011, missing what he estimated was six practices. "When I came back, I didn't do so well. When you get off to a bad start, things don't work out because other guys get in front of you and they (coaches) get their depth chart for the season. It was my job to fight back and at the beginning I didn't, but I fought through the whole season and got my opportunity."

Speed to Burn?

4.45...

There's but one moment in John Goodman's college football career in which he showed such speed on a Saturday: his first, and only, touchdown for the Irish, a 64-yard catch-and-run on a post pattern from then backup Dayne Crist during the latter stages of a Washington State beat down in San Antonio.

He hasn't had a chance to flash that open field speed since, though he has impressed one of the nation's most forgiving defenders: the stop watch.

"I feel like I've always had that speed," said Goodman of the stunning 4.45 forty-yard dash time released by Notre Dame media relations earlier this spring. "I'd like to gain strength; I'm not too worried about speed because through college, even through a couple of hamstring injuries, I still have that speed. It's not a worry. I can use it on the field but its more (needing) strength for me, I think."

More than strength, speed, or even his next touchdown on say, September 1, Goodman needs consistency, the missing ingredient in his first four seasons at the school.

"That's what happened last year, actually. I'd have a good practice then I'd come out and have a bad practice," he offered. "That consistency is such a determining factor in whether you play or not. I realize that; I've grown to know that. Coach Kelly and Coach (Chuck) Martin try to instill that within each one of our minds, the guys that are consistent will play.

"I was persistent through that process," Goodman continued of the late portion of 2011, the off-season, and this spring session. "Things are working out now. I'm getting in the groove and I won't go back to that inconsistent practice style."

He also doesn't plan to go back to the bench. Time on the pine was his reality during 2011 and it likely put his status for a 5th-season with the squad in doubt in the eyes of the coaching staff. But a return to the Irish was never in question for Goodman.

"I'm a Notre Dame guy. I wouldn't go anywhere else," he said of the recent trend of less heralded 5th-year players finishing their careers elsewhere (most from that lot are not asked to return by a team's staff). "I wouldn't love it anywhere else. That's what I'm here for, because I love the game here. I grew up a Notre Dame fan. I wouldn't be able to do any other school so I guess I'd just be going into the work world like you guys."

Straight-line sprinter's speed, unwavering confidence, love for the school, the trust of his teammates and finally it appears, the coaching staff. For Goodman, only consistency is missing from the equation – and not the kind exhibited during Saturday's in the spring.

A finishing flourish might be on tap.


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