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A wide receiver needs to step up

Sep 21, 2009, 11:30 AM EST

This isn’t going to be a column about filling Michael Floyd’s void. If you’re looking for one of those, I suggest you check here, here, here, or here. (My personal favorite is Frank Vitovitch’s at UHND.com… very extensive.)

I
could go on for paragraphs about the need for Duval Kamara or Shaq
Evans to become the alpha dogs they were projected to be. I could talk
about Deion Walker or Robby Paris, or John Goodman, another freshman
who was targeted by Jimmy Clausen with the game on the line.

(A practice that needs to stop, in one writer’s opinion.)

But I won’t.

The one receiver that needs to fill Michael Floyd’s shoes is the best remaining receiver on the Irish roster:

Golden Tate.

I’ll
never argue that Tate’s numbers this season haven’t been rock solid.
His seven catches for 127 yards and a huge touchdown on Saturday likely
were the difference in the game. His 9 catches, 115 yards, and two
touchdowns against Michigan showed the undisputed skill and ability
Tate brings to the field with him. He toyed with defensive backs,
dazzled us with his moves and moxie. Yet if the Irish are going to
reach their goals this season, they’re going to need Tate to do much
more.

Tate’s drops are maddening. Worse still, his mental game
leaves you scratching your head. Tate breaking off his route and
watching Clausen’s deep pass nearly sail into the arms of a Michigan
State defender had Irish fans pulling their hair in frustration. Where
was the hustle to chase down the ball? Where was the urgency?

It’s much too late in the maturation process for Tate to still be playing the “getting the hang of it
game. This is Tate’s third year in the program, his third year as a
wide receiver. For all that Tate has done to dazzle us with his
athleticism and skill, the mental lapses he suffers shows just how much
work he has left to do before fulfills his potential. Even Tate admits
as much.

“I guess I’m just not focusing still,” Tate said after
the game when asked about his drops. “My hands were just really low and
they should be up high. I honestly don’t remember the last time I
dropped the ball before last week since high school.”

With
Michael Floyd gone from the offense, Tate no longer can afford the
enigmatic spells, the boyish taunts, and the showman’s flash. He needs
to become the rock that the Irish passing game is based around. He
needs to make both types of plays regularly — the extraordinary, and
even more importantly, the ordinary.

We all know Tate has the skills needed to do it. We’ll find out shortly if he’s got what it takes. 

  1. kevin woodard - Sep 21, 2009 at 12:49 PM

    tate has been a real disapointment this year he really needs to step his game up

  2. John - Sep 21, 2009 at 2:46 PM

    How about we start with the showey crap, PLEASE STOP, the band jumps the ball taunting etc etc etc and start focusing on mistake free football GOLDEN, or I will apply to have your named changed to tarnished!!! BTW as a ND fan for life the BS jump into msu band was without doubt the most classless thing I have seen, not only could it have cost ND field positon issues in the final minutes but hey moron you could have snapped an innocent persons neck and how would that have felt?

  3. atepesm - Sep 21, 2009 at 7:02 PM

    You do realize that based on number of TDs or based on yards per game, Golden Tate has performed as one of the top 20 WRs in the nation. He’s a lot better than rock solid. Golden’s certifiably one of the best in the nation.
    I think some of the critic against Golden Tate is that people are comparing him to Michael Floyd, who was arguably the #1 WR in the country.
    Just remember how ND’s offense evolved when Rhema McKnight went down. What ND needs now is for the next Jeff Samardzija to step up. We already knew Mo Stovall could be a threat. We didn’t back then and don’t right now know who the next guy to step up would/will be.
    Essentially, I can think of a lot of other things to criticize about ND football before I’d get to complaints about Golden Tate.

  4. robertg - Sep 22, 2009 at 6:40 AM

    keith,
    on this article, we have to differ with you, with all due respect.
    the golden child has already recognized his need to get much better.
    the golden child hass always been his own worst critic and does not require any bashing by any real nd fans nd fans.
    the facts are that the golden child cannot replace floyd since there is only one golden child and that nd, for the 1st time since 1993, has true depth of real talent and expereince at every position, especially at wr and te.
    there are many samardzjia’s fully ready to play and match floyd’s stats, with duval and parris, who both worked very hard to put themselves in primo phyical conditions, for this season, with the most experience and in great physical shape and with many others with great abilities just waitng in the wings. we will be seeing each of them a great deal.
    we have charlie and his staff and notre dame’s fine student athletes to thank for these gifts to notre dame football.
    GO IRISH!!!

  5. robertg - Sep 22, 2009 at 7:41 AM

    keith.
    are you actually paying attention to anything written or said by the hansenites?
    if so, look back to kamara’s freshman year. he caught more passses then any other nd freshman until floyd came along and broke those records.
    true,kamara reported in bad phyical shape last year.
    however, kamara is a real 6’5″ inches with great vertical leaping ability and break away speed since kumara spent the entire summer at notre dame getting into primo phyical condition and kamara really knows the offense.
    robby parris was injured last season, but spent the entire summer doing what kamara did. parris is a real 6’3″ and both very strong and very fast and parris also knows the system.
    goodman is a real 6′ 3″‘ with great leaping ability and speed and has had a full year to learn the system, as had speedster deion walker at 6’2″.
    in addition, goodman was an excellent high school qb and a killer option on nd’s wildcat formations.
    you have also forgotten about te ragone with his 6′”5 height, great leaping ability, and real 4.5 40 speed.
    toma and evans are real threats also
    you are forgetting about all of those hard hitting practices with these receivers against nd’s secondary.
    these types of playing time are not visible to the public.
    however, neither samardzjia nor stovall nor john carslon just magically sprang forth from the head of zeus when they were needed.
    they showed up fully prepared when needed because that is the way charlie and his staff develop talented players at every position and have them fully prepared to go.
    1n 2006, after fasano decided on the nfl over a 5th year at nd, the hansenites and the other nd bashers predicted that notre dame would be completely lost without fasano.
    well, out stepped john carlson with brady quinn remarking to one stunned member of the press. we know what carlson could do all, along. we had seen it in our practices and none of the press had.
    GO IRISH!!

  6. scribs - Sep 22, 2009 at 10:52 AM

    THAT’s what MS gets when the buy the refs, their band is fair game. You can’t tell me the refs weren’t on the MS side when they called Floyd’s “touchdown” back????

  7. Richard Irish - Sep 22, 2009 at 11:10 AM

    My advice to Golden Tate is this–don’t try to be a super ace receiver but just catch every ball thrown your way.

  8. dom beniamino - Sep 23, 2009 at 10:33 AM

    Wow you fans are nuts….. and this article is wack. Golden is a top 5 receiver in the country. And how could you be so mad at him for this season? jimmy picks who he throws to. you dont think that golden easily could have had mikes numbers in the first 2 games? golden did it all last year.Golden tate is the real deal you guys are all haters because mike got the ball more then golden.. thats sweet i guess… well see at the end of the year what you will be saying about golden… OH i love him he is awesome.. he will show you.. he is amazing… he is more of a game breaker then floyd… come on dog are you guys seriously going to be down on golden? he has been all nd has to cheer about the last 2 years… and drops.. i think i saw one drop last year on a tough out route.. he will get it together i know

  9. Chris Clemenson - Sep 23, 2009 at 2:34 PM

    Keith.
    Keith the author makes a great and valid point in this article. When Floyd left the game, I had the same opinion as you. Tate will need to play a larger role since Floyd is out for the season. There is no doubt in my mind that Golden has the skill set and rare athleticism to do so. All you people whom are bashing Tate, just stop whatever you are doing and schedule a labotomy b/c ur braindead!
    My belief is that ND will have to run the ball a lil more b/c ND is capable of doing it this year,and Golden will have to be the Golden we all have come to know which is playing Error Free football. Golden will step up and stop dropping the few balls that he has, b/c after all thats what has come to be expected of the talented kid whose name is “Golden”. Golden will relish the role of being the undebated number 1 receiver and perform exceptionally. His numbers have been rock solid, too bad we can’t say the same for the D-Fense.

  10. ND1 - Sep 25, 2009 at 9:52 AM

    I honestly don’t see how anybody can say Tate has been a disappointment this year. Yes, he has had some dropped balls along with at least one sure touchdown pass but he’s done about as much as I expected he would so far. He’s come into this season a marked man. In case anybody forgot his sophmore year, he was the Michael Floyd of the team last year. Obviously every team the Irish will face this year knew his name coming into this season. Notre Dame had three outstanding passing threats. Those being Tate, Floyd, and Rudolph. All you can really do is ask that every other reciever step up. There is no replacing Michael as he is a key element to the offense but you dont exactly have to replace him in as it is. All his injury has done is allowed Tate and the other Irish recievers to get the ball now. I dont see any defensive coordinators job in stopping the Irish becoming anymore easier because of the loss of Floyd. Evans and Kumara are going to get the ball in lieu of Floyd and Notre Dame is going to keep on rolling. Im not trying to take anything away from Floyd but the success of Golden Tate last year has only helped him be as successful as he was thus far this year. I still believe Tate to be the biggest threat on the offense. Its tough to get the ball and be productive. Jimmy’s decisions have been so sound this year that he hasn’t needed to force getting Tate the ball to begin with. He’s got so many other weapons to work with. Hence the fact that he has NO interceptions.

  11. ND1 - Sep 25, 2009 at 10:04 AM

    On that same note, I’m not a firm believer in being flashy and taunting my opponents but Golden definately does defenses dirty enough to at least warrant the right to do it. Nobody is perfect and his mistakes need to be limited. I agree that he is too far along to still be in the “getting the hang of it” stage. Trutfully, he is beyond that. We all know what he can do already. just give him a chance.

  12. John Hicks - Sep 30, 2009 at 11:13 AM

    I completly agree with dom beniamino, he is right. Golden is easily a top 5 receiver in the country and should be treated like one by the fans. well put dom. GO IRISH and GOLDEN FOR HEISMAN

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