Prediction #8 – The Notre Dame Receptions ChartIf you're scoring the predictions at season's end, I'm aiming for the actual players slotting on the list – their projected receptions represent an educated guess.
- Michael Floyd (76): The total would rank as the fifth-highest in program history behind Golden Tate's 97-catch explosion last fall (as well as Jeff Samardzija in '05 and '06 and Tom Gatewood in 1970). I originally had Floyd pegged in the 85 range, but there's enough talent around him to tempt Kelly and Charley Molnar to spread the wealth over the course of the season.
- Kyle Rudolph (60): The number would break Ken MacAfee's position record of 54 set in the latter's 1977 championship season.
- TJ Jones (27): With 27 receptions, Jones would record the fourth-highest total for a true freshman in program history (Floyd had 48 in '08; Duval Kamara 34 in '07; Tim Brown 28 in ‘84). I lowered the final number for Jones (and Kamara below) from my original projections due to what I believe will be the mid-season emergence of Shaquelle Evans. I recognized that Jones is also the fly in the ointment – the player that could produce far below his projected level.
- Duval Kamara (24): After posting 34 grabs as a true frosh, Kamara managed 20 and 23 over the last two seasons. I'm tempted to go higher, but he's had a tendency to disappear from games throughout his career. Kamara will top 30-35 if TJ Jones is beaten out, by anyone, as the team's third starting receiver.
- Armando Allen (20): 20 would mark a career low (24, 50, 28, respectively), but that's a reflection of the Running Back-by-Committee approach I'm nearly certain Kelly will employ this fall.
- Shaquelle Evans (18): Why 18? I feel Allen will catch more balls than Shaq (not exactly the Scientific Method at work). Look for the bulk of Evans' catches to occur after Week Three in East Lansing.
- Mike Ragone (12): Nearly doubling his career total. Ragone could be the Robby Parris of 2010 (see concluding chart).
- John Goodman (11): The Goodman/Riddick/Toma trio is tough to forecast. I'll give Goodman the slight edge with Riddick doing more damage with backfield plays and in the return game.
- Theo Riddick (10): 10 receptions, but about 20 carries from scrimmage and the lead return role by season's end (punt and kick).
- Jonas Gray (9): I was tempted to give Gray more, because I think he's second only to Allen in the screen game, but there's quite a bit of competition at RB this fall.
- Robert Hughes (8): Hughes had 19 receptions last season; I feel his playing time will be cut in half this year. Eight catches might be low for the senior, but that gives the Irish RB unit 43 total receptions.
- Cierre Wood (6): Could double this number if he emerges as halfback 1A earlier than I've predicted (October).
- Robby Toma (5): The type of player that could catch four passes in one game to help the team; then just two or three for the rest of the season.
- Deion Walker (3): Someone has to be receiver No. 8 in the rotation. It's Walker until I see otherwise in August.
- Tyler Eifert (2): If Ragone produces it will be hard for Eifert to get quality time when the Irish are still slinging it around the yard.
- Bobby Burger (1): One out of the backfield for six points.
- Barry Gallup (1): The 5th-year senior records his first career catch, likely in South Bend.
Note: I don't think an incoming freshman skill position player will catch a pass this season. However, look for special teams contributions from at least two of Bennett Jackson, Cameron Roberson, Austin Collinsworth and Daniel Smith.
The player list above shows 293 receptions, a number close to Kelly's 2008 Bearcats in a what was pass-first offense (In Prediction #7 linked below, I called for a balanced offense slightly favoring the running game for the 2010 squad).
Considering the pace Kelly and Molnar set for the offense in the spring, the Irish offense could exceed 900 plays next fall (Weis' '09 squad totaled 848 snaps in 12 outings; his '08 unit finished with 883 total snaps in 13 games).
That leaves plenty of room for about 425 passes – and 293 completions – over the 13-game season for Kelly's first squad.
IrishEyes Accountability: 2009 ChartI'm in favor of accountability to one's projections. Below is last summer's projected receptions chart, the first number is my pre-season guess; the second is the actual total:
- Michael Floyd – 65 (44 in 7 games)
- Golden Tate – 60 (97…way off, but directly related to Floyd's absence)
- Kyle Rudolph – 40 (33)
- Armando Allen – 35 (28)
- Duval Kamara – 25 (23)
- Robert Hughes – 20 (19)
- John Goodman – 13 (6)
- Robby Parris – 10 (25 – The largest disparity outside of Tate's projection)
- Mike Ragone – 8 (6)
- James Aldridge – 5 (0 in 6 games. The shoulder injury likely limited his ability as a pass-catcher)
- Deion Walker – 5 (1)
- Shaquelle Evans – 4 (7)
- Theo Riddick – 4 (6)
- Bobby Burger – 3 (2)
- Cierre Wood – 2 (redshirt)
- Steve Paskorz – 1 (rarely played at fullback; moved to linebacker for 2010)
- Robby Toma – I predicted a redshirt; he caught 3 passes
- Jonas Gray – I overlooked him in the passing game (a mistake, he's a threat in the screen game); he caught 4 balls.