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Sunday, October 9, 2011
Kelly: Floyd asked to return punts

By Matt Fortuna

It turns out 47 catches, 561 yards, three touchdowns and seemingly every receiving record in Notre Dame history wasn't enough for Michael Floyd.

Floyd was back deep twice to return punts in Saturday's 59-33 win over Air Force, the senior receiver's first action there in his college career. And it was something that, upon seeing his teammates through five weeks, he decided to take upon himself.

"I think we've talked about wanting to get a playmaker out there and John [Goodman] certainly can handle the ball for us but lacks that big-play ability," Brian Kelly said during his weekly Sunday teleconference. "Mike actually came to me, said, 'Coach, I'll do it. Give me a shot at it.' We worked hard and this is the great thing about Mike, he stayed after practice -- here's a guy who's one of the best receivers in the country and spent probably more time than I can remember a guy staying after practice just fielding punts so he could go in there and do it."

Floyd had one fair catch and let another punt bounce out of bounds in front of him.

Goodman was out twice in the first half to return punts but the Fighting Irish called a timeout before one and Air Force decided to go for it on fourth down. The second time, the Falcons ran a fake.

Goodman has eight of Notre Dame's 10 punt returns and, combined with Theo Riddick, has netted 3 total punt-return yards on the season, with each fumbling it away once as well.

Notre Dame ranks 117th in the nation in returning punts, averaging 0.30 yards per return.

"A lot of this has been precipitated by our need to jump-start that unit," Kelly said of the decision to put Floyd on punt returns. "And Mike saw that. As we talked about it in every special teams meeting, which he's part of, I think he finally said, 'You know, I can do this. I've never done it before. ' And we weren't looking down that road with Mike because he had never done it before, but he's such an exceptional athlete, he was committed to doing it and I think that's obviously a game-changer when it comes to that."

Notes: Kelly said Manti Te'o slightly sprained his ankle Wednesday in practice and was limited Saturday. The Irish will protect him this week with a bye. ... Regarding the immediate future of freshman quarterback Everett Golson, who has yet to play, Kelly said: "I think you guys can figure out what the rotation's gonna be at this point."Golson was also a standout basketball player in high school, and Kelly said the two made an agreement on certain things he needs to take care of before he could play hoops at Notre Dame. ... Asked if his team will wear green jerseys for its Oct. 22 game against USC, Kelly said: "I didn't know we had green jerseys. If we did we'd think about it."