In the weeks following that early September afternoon, Michael Floyd continued to impress, eventually breaking nearly all Irish freshman receiving records, some of which were set only a year before by teammate, Duval Kamara. The Cretin-Derham Hall High School product went on to grab 48 receptions for 719 yards and seven touchdowns, while sitting out the final three games of the regular season due to injury and remaining limited in action during Notre Dame's 49-21 bowl onslaught over Hawaii.
Now entering his first spring practices in the program, there is still much room for improvement, as the wideout is poised to have an extremely productive sophomore season with the experience and maturation he acquired last year.
His position coach, Rob Ianello, sees some area for development, and senses that Floyd is aware of his faults through a process of self-evaluation — a key, which Ianello feels is essential towards the improvement of younger players.
"If you sat down and talked to Michael he'd tell you a bunch that he could build on," Ianello said. "I want the guys to really examine themselves closely and be their own worse critic as they attack things. Michael's got plenty he can work on and when he gets back out there, we'll keep picking up where we left off."
Part of this process of self-evaluation is brought upon expectations that Floyd has on his performance. Through each practice session, the freshman puts a certain amount of pressure on himself to stay focused on developing.
"Just pressure, like if I miss a ball, I'll get on myself, since it's a ball I should've caught, or a block or something like that, so that's basically it," he said.
To quicken this maturation process that Floyd is undergoing, the receiver spent a great deal of time during the off-season becoming more comfortable with the person feeding him the ball — Jimmy Clausen.
In the months following the Irish victory at the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, the teammates spent time together working on timing routes, watching film and offering suggestions to each other, in addition to the recreational moments they spent together as friends.
"We hung out a lot," Floyd said of his relationship with Clausen. "We watched film and stuff like that. If he sees something that he likes or a way I should run a route, he'll tell me, or I'll tell him, ‘that's the kind of way that I like the ball.'"
The sophomore quarterback elaborated on their training sessions over the off-season, as the two young talents are starting to become accustomed to each other's styles and tendencies.
"Yeah, we did. We threw a lot over the winter," Clausen said. "During the summertime, we'll come in and watch a lot of film. Not only just me and him, but all the receivers, tight ends and the backs and the offensive line, just to get everything down and keep working in the off-season."
With all the cooperative film watching and throwing sessions, a decent amount of communication is needed for both players to be on the same page. In the case of both Floyd and Clausen, a common theme of conversation focuses on taking what defenses give them, and exploiting what they see.
"He doesn't offer tips on throwing the ball, but we talk about, ‘if the defense gives you this, what are you going to do in response to it?'" Clausen said of their conversations. "And that comes along with just watching tape with him and him knowing what he's thinking and coverages and what the DB is going to do, and what he's going to do in different situations, so that's what we talk about."
Although Floyd has greatly benefited from his time with Clausen, sometimes, the productive wideout will take it upon himself to improve on his deficiencies even when his quarterback isn't around to help him.
"Or, I'll just do it myself," he said. "Sometimes you can't get a quarterback, so that's what I'll do. I just work on different moves to get off the line and see how different corners play it so, that's what I'm doing."
That is why Floyd spends as much time as he does in the Gugliemo Athletics Complex watching film on Irish players, both past and present.
"I watch old film," Floyd said. "David Grimes, Jeff Smardzija, [Maurice Stovall], Rhema McKnight, just guys that have been here and seeing how they run things, so I just try to take good advice from them."
With all the experience that Floyd received last season, he comes in as one of the more experienced wide receivers the Irish have to offer, in addition to Kamara and Golden Tate. As a result, players and coaches alike have noticed that Floyd has taken it upon himself to be more vocal amongst his teammates, offering some knowledge when he deems it necessary.
"Yeah, he's done a great job of being a leader with the receiving group," Clausen said of his teammate's leadership qualities. "Helping the younger guys with their technique and studying with them, watching tape with them and when he's on the field, he's working his tail off and that's what we need from him."
For Floyd, his role is to help analyze his teammates' routine and offer suggestions in an effort for the whole receiving corps to develop.
"Yeah, especially with the guys who came in with me as freshman," Floyd responded when asked if his role as a leader had increased after last year. "John Goodman and Deion Walker, if I see something that they do wrong, I try to critique them and make them do it the right way, so helping them out is something that I kind of do."
At the end of the day, if that's what it takes to help the Irish win and return to national prominence, then Floyd is definitely on board.
"I just try to do the best for the team, and make the team win," he said. "That's basically it. So whatever I can do to make the team win, I'll do it."