Floyd is rock of Irish offense

Michael Floyd’s decision is a ways off. Notre Dame’s star

receiver will have other things on his mind the next two weeks as

the Irish wrap up a disappointing season that could still end in a

bowl.

Will Floyd do what his former teammate and friend Golden Tate

did nearly a year ago and skip his senior season for the NFL? Stay

tuned.

”If that comes to a decision that I need to make, then that’s

down the road,” Floyd said earlier this season, before the Irish

crushed Utah last week to go 5-5.

Floyd, who has 25 career TD catches, third on the school’s

all-time list, is plenty busy right now.

With a freshman quarterback in Tommy Rees replacing injured

Dayne Crist, and with leading rusher Armando Allen, NFL prospect

tight end Kyle Rudolph and slot receiver Theo Riddick all sidelined

by injuries, the Irish are looking for Floyd to make a difference.

And he has.

”I just kind of do my thing day by day,” says Floyd, who

trails only Jeff Samardzija (27) and Tate (26) on the career TD

pass list. He’s caught nine for scores this season and leads the

team with 59 catches, despite missing the Navy loss with a sore

hamstring. He’s fifth on the school’s all-time reception list with

151.

With Rees making his first start last week against Utah, Floyd

had four catches, made a crushing block to spring Jonas Gray on a

36-yard run and had a TD reception one play after a pass

interference call against him.

At 6-foot-3, 227 pounds, Floyd is strong after the catch, has

reliable hands and can jump over defensive backs. He also possesses

the most important ability for any receiver – he can get open. And

if he’s doubled, it makes it easier on his teammates to get the

ball. He’s also not afraid to share what he sees.

”When I see something that needs to be said on the field to any

player, or especially wide receivers, I make sure that I get to

them and tell them what they did right or what they did correct,

just basically positives and negatives,” Floyd said. ”But we all

kind of correct each other.”

Under first-year coach Brian Kelly, Floyd and other veterans

have had to adapt to a spread offense and the personality of the

man now running the show.

In the preseason, Kelly worked on Floyd right away, saying at

times last year it appeared that Floyd was just average and ran

undisciplined routes.

Floyd shrugged off the criticism as motivation and has continued

to be a player that defenses have to contain and account for.

Other veteran players like linebacker Brian Smith and wide

receiver Duval Kamara have had their playing time altered under the

new regime, but both were key performers in the victory over the

Utes. Smith made 10 tackles and Kamara caught two TD passes from

Rees.

”I mean, we really don’t have a say into different coaches and

stuff like that. But it is difficult, you know, having a new coach,

bringing a new system in here,” Floyd said. ”I think our team did

a great job adjusting to it, and it’s only going to get better from

here.”

It has been a difficult seven months in more ways than just on

the field for the Irish, who play Army on Saturday at Yankee

Stadium.

Notre Dame recruit Matt James was killed in an accident during

spring break in April. And last month, student videographer Declan

Sullivan died after the tower from which he was filming practice

toppled over on a windy day.

”It is emotional for our whole team,” Floyd said. ”Everybody

keeps it in their memories, and we dedicated that (Tulsa) game to

Declan. …Keeping both of them in our minds is really what’s the

best thing for us. But as a team, we’ve got to move on, and we’ve

got to kind of get past that a little bit.”