Floyd WMU

SI.com names Floyd and Rudolph among Top 10 WR/TEs


It’s not entirely surprising that preseason All-Americans Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph were listed in a 2011 NFL Draft list, but SI.com has Floyd rated No. 8 in the country and Rudolph No. 10 among the 2011 NFL Draft’s top wide receivers and tight ends.

In order, here’s the list in its entirety, along with their draft rating:

1. A.J. Green, Georgia (1st round prospect)
2. Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State (1st round prospect)
3. Julio Jones, Alabama (1st round prospect)
4. Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma (1st/2nd round prospect)
5. Jonathan Baldwin, Pitt (1st/2nd round prospect)
6. Leonard Hankerson, Miami (2nd round prospect)
7. Torrey Smith, Maryland (2nd round prospect)
8. Michael Floyd, Notre Dame (2nd round prospect)
9. Niles Paul, Nebraska (2nd round prospect)
10. Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame (2nd round prospect)

Rudolph is the only tight end on the list, which makes his 2nd round rating a little bit questionable, considering there’s been tight end taken in the first round every year since 1999. That said, Kyle’s injury rehab, let alone his history of health issues might make him a tougher pick in the 1st round than what teams are looking for.

Likewise, while Floyd’s rated 8th, he’s also given a second round grade, and tagged with the dreaded “projects well as a possession receiver at the next level.” I’d argue that Floyd’s yards-per-catch average coming into this season would dispel any notions of a possession receiver, but I’d also be the last one to make any argument that’d have either Floyd or Rudolph heading to the NFL after this season.

With a work stoppage looming and the very real possibility that draft picks will be hung out in the wind waving while owners and the players union battle out labor issues, the safe haven of college football, and the ability to improve your draft/earnings status might be a real positive for the two Notre Dame stars to stick around in South Bend for another year. It’d also turn the 2011 Irish into a serious BCS contender.

Irish prepared to take on the best Navy team in years


Brian Kelly opens every Tuesday press conference with compliments for an opponent. But this week, it was easy to see that his kind words for Navy were hardly lip service.

Ken Niumatalolo will bring his most veteran—and probably his most talented—group of Midshipmen into Notre Dame Stadium, looking to hand the Irish their first loss in the series since Kelly’s debut season in South Bend.

“Ken Niumatalolo has done an incredible job in developing his program and currently carrying an eight-game winning streak,” Kelly said. “I voted for them in USA Today Top 25 as a top-25 team. I think they’ve earned that. But their defense as well has developed. It’s played the kind of defense that I think a top 25 team plays.”

With nine months of option preparation, Notre Dame needs to feel confident about their efforts against Georgia Tech. Then again, the Midshipmen saw that game plan and likely have a few tricks in store.

As much as the Irish have focused their efforts on stopping Keenan Reynolds and the triple-option, Navy’s much-improved defense is still looking for a way to slow down a team that’s averaged a shade over 48 points a game against them the last four seasons.

Niumatalolo talked about that when asked about slowing down Will Fuller and Notre Dame’s skill players, an offense that’s averaged over 48 points a game during this four-game win streak.

“We’ve got to try our best to keep [Fuller] in front of us, that’s easier said than done,” Niumatalolo said. “We’ve got to play as close as we can without their guys running past us. I’ve been here a long time and we’re still trying to figure out how to do that.”


Navy heads to South Bend unbeaten, defeating former Irish defensive coordinator Bob Diaco‘s team just two Saturdays ago. And while Diaco raised a few eyebrows when he said Navy would be the team’s toughest test of the year (they already played a ranked Missouri team), the head of the UConn program couldn’t have been more effusive in his praise.

“I have been competing against Navy for some time and this is the best Navy team I have seen for, let’s say the last half-dozen years,” UConn coach Bob Diaco told the New Haven Register. “I could click on footage from three years ago and see a lion’s share of players who are playing right now in the game as freshmen and sophomores. They have a veteran group, a strong group, a talented group and they look like the stiffest competition among our first four opponents.”

As usual, there will be those who look at this game as the breather between Clemson and USC. That won’t be anybody inside The Gug. So as the Irish try to get back to their winning ways in front of a home crowd, a complete team effort is needed.

“I’ll take a win by one,” Kelly said Tuesday. “That would be fine with me.”


Kelly confident Robinson will rebound

Notre Dame v Florida State

Corey Robinson‘s season was already off to a slow start. And that was before a difficult night at Clemson. The junior receiver came into last weekend with only four catches, held out against UMass after a pregame tweak of his knee put a scare into the Irish.

Robinson’s knee checked out fine. But mentally, it appears that the sure-handed junior is struggling.

Just before halftime against the Tigers, Robinson failed to reel in a long catch that would’ve given the Irish a much-needed touchdown heading into half. Early in the fourth quarter, a high throw from DeShone Kizer on the Irish’s first failed two-point conversion play slid through Robinson’s hands. Made worse was a mental mistake by Robinson, the Irish needing to use one of their second half timeouts when the junior wasn’t on the field.

Coached hard on the sideline by Brian Kelly and coached up by his position coach Mike Denbrock (as we saw on both Showtime and Fighting Irish Media’s ICON), the staff is doing it’s best to get Robinson’s confidence back.

With some wondering if Robinson’s struggles should open the door for talented freshman Equanimeous St. Brown, Kelly talked about their belief that the junior will return to form.

“Corey Robinson is going to get the job done. I had a very lengthy conversation with him yesterday,” Kelly said Tuesday. “I believe in Corey. Corey’s got to believe in himself, and he will. He’s got to go attack the football. He’s letting the football come to him. He’s letting it eat him up a little bit, but I believe in Corey.”

There’s no better place to showcase that belief than against Navy. The Midshipmen don’t have a defender physically capable of matching up with the 6-foot-5 Robinson, who will likely face his share of single coverage with Will Fuller likely demanding safety help.

Then it’s just a matter of Robinson showing the hands and confidence that made him one of last year’s most consistent performers.

“Once he starts attacking the football, I think we’re going to see somebody that can make the plays that we expect him to make,” Kelly said. “So I’m optimistic that we’re going to see the guy that we need to see on Saturday.”