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Michael Floyd is a man on a mission

Aug 17, 2010, 4:25 PM EDT

It’s hard to call anyone that’s a preseason first-team All-American anonymous. But two weeks into fall camp, Michael Floyd might as well have vanished, getting little mention from head coach Brian Kelly or members of his staff when talking about the team. Since Kelly’s arrival, Floyd’s work within the program has been done under far dimmer lights than the player many of us saw dominate during his six-plus games last season.

Getting off on the right foot might have been part of the problem. Floyd’s offseason wasn’t one to be proud of, his ticket for underage drinking and involvement in a fight back home in Minnesota over the holidays did little to make the coaching staff believe they had a team leader.

Even more intriguing, when I spent time with the coaching staff in June as summer conditioning workouts got underway, I had the sneaking suspicion that the new coaching staff wasn’t all that impressed with the game tape they had reviewed of their inherited star receiver. While no one would say it, I got the feeling that many thought Floyd was just “another guy,” his headlines and kudos a product of the media machine swirling around Notre Dame and head coach Charlie Weis’ explosive downfield passing game.

That perception of Floyd was confirmed today by Kelly when he spoke to the national press during Notre Dame’s media day.

“Michael Floyd,” Kelly said as he measured his words. “I thought Michael Floyd was over-hyped. I thought he was, at times, average.”

Kelly’s commentary mirrored some of the exact things I heard back in June, but also echoed some of the knocks we’ve heard about the great offensive players of the Weis era, players that put up numbers befitting top NFL draft picks but found themselves sliding down to be picked when the signing bonuses lacked the extra zeroes. Brady Quinn, draft slide. Jimmy Clausen, draft slide. Golden Tate, draft slide. Even players like John Carlson and Ryan Harris, guys that have been successful during their brief NFL careers didn’t go anywhere near as high as many thought they were capable of going.

Kelly even provided the details for his subpar critique of Notre Dame’s current offensive star.

“He ran down the field and they threw it up,” Kelly said. “He wasn’t a precision
route-runner. He wasn’t asked to be. He was a match-up guy. You never
saw him in position to run the dig or the drive or one-on-one where he
had to beat press coverage on a slant on 4th-and-1. All those things
that go to winning football games, I didn’t see all that. Maybe it’s
because they had Golden Tate and he did all that for them. So my evaluation of Mike was based upon the film I’ve had.”

There were whispers and worries on message boards that Floyd was unhappy with the coaching change, unwilling to buy in with the commitment demanded by the new coaching regime. During his same comments, Kelly also refuted that notion unequivocally.

“In 20 years, I have not had a player who has worked as hard as Michael Floyd has worked,” Kelly continued. “And I mean that. He has out-worked everybody on the offensive side of the ball to the
point where he has single-handedly set the bar for everybody else needs
to bring their play.

“The last couple of days in situational live, he’s been dominant. He’s been dominant. And believe me, I’m not easily impressed. Again, going back to where I thought he was, watching film last year, wasn’t all that impressed with him. I’ve been very impressed with his work. He’s been outstanding, and he’s
set a bar for the way all our other players need to compete on a
day-to-day basis.

“That’s the Mike Floyd story.”

While the statistics won’t agree, the critique of Floyd’s body of work at Notre Dame is a fair one. Floyd’s first two seasons, both disrupted by injuries, never had him running precision routes or working as a complete receiver. Weis seemed content to take advantage of the match-up problems inherent with a physical receiver like Floyd, choosing to have his star wideout simply beat opponents as opposed to develop into a complete weapon.

While his numbers certainly look the part of an All-American, that reliance on Floyd’s jump ball game, that complacency to simply depend on Michael to beat the defensive back also contributed to Notre Dame’s mediocrity in the red zone, and didn’t help Michael’s development as a player.

(You could argue that injuries played the largest factor when choosing Floyd’s role in the game plan. With a cracked clavicle, both the coaching and medical staff likely wanted to keep him alone in space, away from the big collisions in the middle of the field.)

If what we heard today is any indication, it’s clear that Kelly and wide receivers coach Tony Alford (who saw first-hand what Floyd can do last season) have every intention on turning #3 into a complete wide receiver. More importantly, Michael’s embraced the challenge, pushing both himself and his teammates to new heights.

If you’re looking for a clue on what Kelly expects from Floyd this season, look no further than that wry smile that crept its way onto the head coach’s lips when he was talking about Floyd. That should be all you need to know.

  1. olemantj - Aug 17, 2010 at 5:58 PM

    Once again, the inability of the CW regime to develop players. This has become such a predominant notation to the CW coaching era that it begs to wonder…..were the coaches (CW included) incapable of developing players (I highly doubt it) or was it just simply no desire to develop players. It was the “players’ job” to make themselves better. If BK can do wonders with Michael, what does that tell you about other ‘3-star’ players.

  2. Taylor - Aug 17, 2010 at 7:04 PM

    Keith, you hit this one out of the park. Great article. NBC, give this man more money.
    Brian Kelly has always been able to develop talent and utilize an offensive system that provided playmakers the opportunity to blow past their potential.
    I think Brian Kelly knows he has the offensive playmakers on the Irish squad like he has never had before, and he can’t wait to show the world.

  3. sharkey - Aug 17, 2010 at 7:22 PM

    There’s no doubt Michael is an elite reciever. Glad he is taking his coaches criticism as constructive and recognizing his need for improvement. There is always room to get better, no matter who you are.

  4. #1irishfan - Aug 17, 2010 at 8:31 PM

    I am getting an overwhelming sense of relief when looking at our future without Charlie! I was worried at the end of last year. As this off-season has progressed and I’ve comprehended all that I have read and watched, I can’t stop thinking how we all were so content with mediocrity and couldn’t see what guys like Mark May were saying all along… WE REALLY WERE THE LAUGHING STOCK……. But O YA the times are a changing! Prima donna days are over

  5. #1irishfan - Aug 17, 2010 at 8:35 PM

    Question? Has there ever been a first year CFB Head coach win a national championship? Div 1

  6. TLNDMA - Aug 17, 2010 at 9:31 PM

    Just watched the coach’s interviews on The ease with which the assistants all answer questions makes me think back to John Tenuta’s “style” with the media. What a miserable sob he was.
    The other thing you notice with these coaches, especially Diaco, is the high regard they have for Brian Kelly. They “feel it”. That can only filter down to the players. In 17 days a different Irish team is coming out of that tunnel.

  7. gregizzo - Aug 17, 2010 at 9:36 PM

    Earth to Michael Floyd how about you focus on staying healthy!!!! Play the entire season would be great!! Then all we need is to convice him to stay at ND for his senior season and then he can go in the first round to the NFL.

  8. ryanc - Aug 17, 2010 at 10:18 PM

    couldnt agree more. one mans trash is another mans treasure.

  9. Art Vandelay - Aug 17, 2010 at 11:08 PM

    I’ve got to hand it to Floyd. He has shown BK, an admitted doubter, that he is the real deal. Kelly went so far as to say that Floyd works harder in practice than anybody on the entire offense and that he has, in fact, set the bar high for all of his teammates. We all have either known/seen/heard about that star athlete who thinks the world revolves around him and he expects special attention as a result. This is clearly not the case with Floyd. He has stepped it up to impress the Coach who is one that is “not easily impressed.” Floyd appears to be a quality kid all the way around. I can’t wait to see him develop as the total package, i.e. someone who runs the precise routes and able to position his body to make plays. Good read Keith.

  10. Chucket - Aug 18, 2010 at 4:00 AM

    Coach Kelly’s observations about Michael Floyd’s previous work ethic show a steep contrast with Jack Snow’s preparation for his only season under Parseghian in 1964. He stayed the summer vacation on campus with John Huarte just to practice routes and timing(while everybody else was on vacation).
    Just see the results in the DVD titled “Echoes Awakened” ( the story about Ara’s magical first season at Notre Dame). “Huarte to Snow” seemed magic, but was the result of dedicated work ethic.
    Another work ethic we all read about: Jerry Rice. Holder of so many wide receiver records! He is so well ahead of every other receiver that it seems impossible for anyone to come close, ever. Many consider Jerry to be the best football player ever.

  11. ourlady$ - Aug 19, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    The Intangibles. Talent can only take one so far,work ethic, dedication, focus and unselfishness for the good of the team, this is what determines who will be a Champion.
    Michael Floyd has a chance to be a great leader on this team, Caoch Kelly knows this.
    He is not just in the business of making better football players but better people in life.
    That’s what coaching is about.

  12. dan e. - Aug 19, 2010 at 7:30 PM

    #1 Irishfan,
    I was never content with mediocrity and in fact wanted Weiss gone 2 years ago. Weiss was a coordinator. Kelly is a head coach and will get the most out of every player on the team. Just by his recent comments on Floyd tells me alot about his mindset. Anyways, look forward to chatting with you on this forum.
    Go Irish!

  13. Duke Richbourg - Aug 20, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    Larry Coker at Miami won the National Championship in his first year.

  14. Gipster - Aug 23, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    Yes and Coker inherited a loaded team (once he started recruiting his own players the program went down hill and hasn’t recovered yet). BK doesn’t have that kind of team this year but he does have something to work with and build upon. I liked Charlie but his inexperience as a head coach AND the college game did him in and the writing was on the wall way before he got fired. I like Coach Kelly, he’s a breath of fresh air to the program, I love the intensity and the up tempo. It’s going to be a fun season!!
    Go Irish!!!

  15. Duke Richbourg - Aug 24, 2010 at 1:16 PM

    Coker was 60-15 is six years; his last three years were 9-3; 9-3; 7-6. Butch Davis was 51-20 at Miami in his 6 year tenure and Coker was his Offensive Coordinator for all six of those years – I’d say he was part and parcel to all of those victories! Never-the-less, the fact is he won the National Championship in his first year. That was the question #1irishfan asked. Why run down a fine coach from another school in the process of commenting about Notre Dame!!??!!

  16. kidmarc - Aug 25, 2010 at 3:09 AM

    Michael’s “Mission” is more likely inspired by his own self-worth and Golden Tate’s achievements than anything coming from the new coaching staff. [Kelly and Co.]
    Claiming contentment on Floyd’s mismatch-up’s is not seeing the forest for the trees. Coming in as the top-recruited receiver, Weis took advantage of his abilities. Injuries kept him from developing during his first two years. It would it take a year without an injury to see whether Weis was content or not. However, since Weis is gone, that will not be determined. One would have to wonder why you would declare or assume that Weis was content without asking him.
    Regarding Kelly’s critique… It should come as no shock that Kelly was at best, not impressed. One, Floyd played very little. [injuries] Two, Floyd did not have much time for development. [injuries] Three, it is not unusual for new coaches to knock down players; it is part of the re-programming — eliminating the previous coaching program and implementing the new one. That’s Psych 101!… or is that 201? Aaah… it all depends on the school teaching psychology.

  17. Gipster - Aug 27, 2010 at 12:30 PM

    Some coaches are great coordinators but their success doesn’t always translate when they take over a program, much like Coker and Weis. I didn’t mean to say the Coker was a bad coach but the Miami fan base wasn’t too happy with him at the end, but point taken.
    But back to Mr. Floyd, I think Charlie found the quickest way to put him on the field and obviously it was to use his raw talent. Injuries probably had something to do with his lack of development which coach Kelly is addressing right now in a big way but my biggest concern is his ability to stay healthy. I hope he’s not one of those kids that has a career greatly affected by injuries. I can’t wait to see this new offense and his role in it.

  18. Kevin - Aug 31, 2010 at 8:48 AM

    Larry Coker?

  19. Payton - Aug 31, 2010 at 11:42 AM

    All I want is the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to WIN!!!! That does’nt mean they have to win the national title. Just double digits for now is that to much to ask.

  20. indy - Aug 31, 2010 at 2:27 PM

    I had always maintained that Quinn and Clausen both just threw it up and let the receivers run under it. Michael Floyd has pro talent and the physical ability to be great. We will see if Kelly is able to take that and turn it into something really special.

  21. fast eddie - Sep 2, 2010 at 2:40 AM

    no names … but whoever leaves notre dame and takes millions with him without finishing the job, cannot be that awesome of a person. (sorry, my opinion.)
    the new coach is a proven winner, and has the potential to go 12-0. perhaps not, but at least the team will play inspired football. and i personally will approach each game as if notre dame can realistically win the game. if they do not win the game on any given saturday, it will not be because they were not coached well; but, because they played a superior opponent. that is what the new coaching staff brings: those wonderful and precious intangibles. at least there will be no more wondering: what if …???
    good riddance to the former notre dame coaching staff.
    g-o-o-o-o-o irish…!

  22. Tony - Sep 3, 2010 at 10:54 AM

    The one common thread between Lou Holtz and Brain Kelly have is the love and respect they have for Notre Dame and there being able share that love with their players. I visited Notre Dame last month and it is a very special place…Go Irish

  23. B Dub - Sep 3, 2010 at 1:03 PM

    The greatest thing that ever happened to Golden Tate was Michael Floyd getting hurt….

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