Friday, December 30, 2011
Floyd grinds through finale, leaves mark
By Matt Fortuna
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Michael Floyd's 100th catch of his history-making season ended up being his last in a Notre Dame uniform. But despite not being able to finish the final quarter of his college career, the senior receiver managed to exit in style.
Michael Floyd's final catch for Notre Dame accounted for the Irish's only offensive touchdown of the night.
That last catch may be the one replayed the most (it reached No. 3 on SportsCenter's top plays segment Thursday night), as it accounted for the Irish's only offensive touchdown on the night and their last of the season. Floyd made a circus 5-yard grab from Tommy Rees, ripping the ball out of the hands of Florida State cornerback Greg Reid and then bobbling the ball five times before securing it and absorbing a hit from Nigel Bradham.
Reid (concussion) and Floyd (upper-body injury) both left the game afterward.
"He's such a good player," Rees said of Floyd. "His concentration to find it and secure it was unbelievable."
Floyd finished the night with five catches for 41 yards. He also returned the game's first punt 41 yards, a huge jolt to an Irish punt return unit that averaged 0.3 yards per return during the regular season.
"Just an incredible competitor," coach Brian Kelly said of Floyd. "This is my 22nd year and I've had great players, guys that have gone on to great careers in the NFL, are doctors and lawyers. And you remember the guys that overcome, the guys that compete in battle, and he did that today."
Floyd finished the season with 1,147 receiving yards and nine touchdown catches. His 100 receptions this year are a Notre Dame single-season record.
Notre Dame's 10th two-time MVP, Floyd sits atop the school list for career receptions (271), touchdown receptions (37) and receiving yards (3,686), though he was less than pleased with how it ended.
"It's very frustrating," he said of the 18-14 loss. "To end the season you always want to get a 'W.' Unfortunately we didn't get the job done tonight. But you leave a lot of positive things and the underclassmen going back to school, making sure they do the little things right, stay disciplined and show some leadership."
That leadership mantle was taken away from Floyd after he was arrested for drunken driving in March, his third alcohol-related brush with the law since 2009. An offseason suspension followed, and his role as a season captain was stripped. Floyd's probation status from school prohibited him from being a game captain during the regular season.
Having graduated this month, Floyd was named a game captain for the Champs Sports Bowl, joining season captain Harrison Smith for the pregame coin toss.
"That's something that he's deserved," Smith said. "He's done everything that people have asked of him, whether it's on the field, off the field, in the classroom. And he's earned it. He's worked his way to this point and he definitely deserved it, and it was an honor being a captain alongside him."