The program's recently set records for total receptions (he needs 88 to pass Jeff Samardzija) and total yards (needs 1,193 to pass Golden Tate) are within reasonable reach with a strong year, or at least a year on par with Brian Kelly's top receivers at Cincinnati in 2008 and 2009.
- Mardy Gilyard (2009): 87 receptions, 1,191 yards, 11 TD
- Gilyard (2008): 81 receptions, 1,276 yards, 11 TD. Dominick Goodwin paced the Bearcats with 84 receptions in '08.
Floyd's red zone acumen (16 TD in 18 games) makes Jeff Samardzija's career touchdown mark (27) approachable somewhere near Week 10. In 18 career games, Floyd has exceeded 100 receiving yards on nine occasions. Similar production will put him on pace to break Golden Tate's program record of 15 100-yard outings by season's end.
With the notable exception of Tate's 97 receptions last season, a number of single season records could fall by the wayside if Michael Floyd accomplishes something he's yet to do at the college level.
Stay on the field.
Greatness DelayedFloyd dominated the season's first 2.5 games in a manner reminiscent of Tim Brown, Rocket Ismail, and Reggie Brooks before him. He was arguably the best player in the nation, undoubtedly its most dynamic pass-catcher, and on a course to re-write Notre Dame's single-season record books
From the season opener vs. Nevada through the midway point of the second quarter against Michigan State, Floyd totaled 13 receptions for 358 yards and 6 touchdowns. Floyd had just corralled his seventh touchdown grab of the season (overturned by replay) at the 4:48 mark of the 2nd Quarter. He suffered a season-altering shoulder injury on the play, one that kept him out of the next five contests.
Feared lost for the season with a broken clavicle, Floyd returned six weeks later vs. Navy (detailed at the conclusion of the column). His numbers were again impressive, but Floyd was understandably not the same physical force we witnessed prior to the September 19 broken bone:
- Navy: 10 receptions, 141 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT that bounced off his back, 2 passes ripped out of his hands, 1 dropped bomb (six total incomplete passes were intended for Floyd).
- Pittsburgh: 7 receptions, 107 yards, 1 dropped pass
- Connecticut: 8 receptions, 104 yards, 1 touchdown (leaping grab in overtime), 1 penalty, 1 lost fumble
- Stanford: 6 receptions, 85 yards, 2 TD
Notre Dame's 0-4 finish coincided with Floyd's return. Somehow, the Irish recorded a 2-5 record when Floyd played and a 4-1 mark without him.
As an aside, Notre Dame finished 0-8 when Floyd and Golden Tate exceeded 80 receiving yards in the same contest (2008-09).
Floyd's 2010 Season OutlookAs a freshman in 2008, 32 of Floyd's record-setting 48 receptions occurred outside the hash marks. Last season, 50 of the 73 passes intended for Floyd were likewise *outside.
That noticeable pattern and the tendency to have Floyd aligned on the **near sideline (and in November, almost exclusively on the offense's right) arguably made Floyd an easier player to track and cover for opposing defenses; impressive statistics notwithstanding.
Expect a departure in 2010 with Floyd lined up in multiple positions (slot included) in an effort to make the most of his imposing frame and ability to run through would-be tacklers as well as aggressive zone defenders.
His proven red zone skill set will be augmented by the developed talent of Kyle Rudolph as the duo must be accounted for by at least three defenders as the Irish offense approaches pay dirt.
Though Floyd is a much different player than Golden Tate, expect similar bouts of dominance – a healthy, dialed-in Floyd cannot be covered if he receives adequate support from the players around him. The spread offense, the emergence of Rudolph, and the Irish running game should at the very least, protect Floyd from true double coverage, at least until he renders initial opposing coverage schemes ineffective on a consistent basis.
Michael Floyd will set records this season. Should he remain in school for his senior year, there won't be a WR-related mark, sans Jim Seymour's 276-yard single game effort, left standing in Irish annals.
But like former teammates Golden Tate and Jimmy Clausen, those records will mean little if he can't finally help his team win more than it loses over the course of a regular season.
Only one record matters in South Bend and to Notre Dame fans. Michael Floyd can lead Brian Kelly's first squad toward its goal in 2010 with a chance at team greatness in 2011.
Floyd at his Best in 2009
- Nevada: Floyd put forth one of the most physically dominant and efficient efforts in team history, catching four passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns. The aggregate yardage total of the scoring passes: 181 yards.
- Michigan: Seven receptions which resulted in six first downs and one touchdown on a 131-yard afternoon.
- Pittsburgh: With the Irish trailing 20-3 and facing a 4th and 1 from their own 40-yard line, Floyd beat the Panthers defense for a 45-yard post-route and a key first down, setting up the team's first touchdown and giving the squad life heading into the final quarter. It was Floyd's third 3rd/4th down conversion of the evening (another occurred on a 23-yard grab on 3rd and 19).
- Connecticut: Though not yet back in football shape, Floyd accounted for 104 yards on 8 receptions, the last of which was a leaping back corner touchdown catch to tie the score at 27 in the first overtime. Floyd set up his heroics with a 21-yard catch on 3rd and 10 the previous snap.
- Note: Of Floyd's 44 receptions last season, 36 resulted in an Irish first down or touchdown.
Floyd's moments to forget from 2009
- Michigan: With the Irish trailing 31-26 midway through the 4th Quarter, Floyd leapt for a Clausen pass in the deep right corner of the end zone. Upon landing out of bounds, Floyd suffered a deep gash in his knee – one that sidelined him for the remainder of the contest.
Two series later, with the Irish clinging to a 34-31 advantage, Floyd's replacement, freshman Shaquelle Evans, erred in his pass route on an open 3rd down conversion attempt that would have sealed the Irish victory in Ann Arbor.
- Connecticut: With the score tied at 17 at the 3:30 mark of the 3rd Quarter, Floyd hauled in a square-in pass from Jimmy Clausen. He failed to protect the ball on the 23-yard gain, fumbling at the Huskies 14-yard line to kill the drive. The Irish did not score a touchdown until Floyd's leaping grab in the game's first overtime to tie the contest at 27.
- Navy: Though healthy, Floyd appeared to be the focal point of the Irish game plan before he was fully prepared. He responded with 10 receptions for 141 yards and one touchdown, but also had a pass bounce off the middle of his back for an interception (he missed an audible and blocked as if it were a run); had two fade passes ripped out of his hands, the first of which would have resulted in a touchdown on a drive in which the Irish failed to score, and, late in the contest, dropped a key deep ball on a great throw from Jimmy Clausen.
Floyd should have been eased back to action; vexing because the Irish offensive staff had Golden Tate at its disposal. (The first pass thrown to Tate occurred two series after the Irish had fallen behind 14-0 late in the 2nd Quarter).
*Note: A number of pass receptions by Irish players were recorded directly on the hash marks last season. I determined those as either inside or outside by the direction the player was headed (toward the inside of the field or out to the sidelines) while catching the ball.
**Alignment: Floyd was not hamstrung as near-side/right side receiver in his 4-catch, 189-yard, 3-TD effort in the season opener vs. Nevada.
Michael Floyd's 2008 season breakdown, which includes a look at each of his 48 receptions, can be found here.