Thursday, December 8, 2011
Regular-season report card: Wide receivers
By Matt Fortuna
The regular season is over and the end of the semester has arrived. Here, we grade Notre Dame's 2011 campaign by position. Part six of the 10-part series brings us to the wide receivers.
Summary: Michael Floyd may go down as the greatest receiver in Notre Dame history. Give one final chance after a third alcohol-related offense this past offseason, the senior hauled in 95 catches this season (Notre Dame record) for 1,106 yards. His 3,645 career receiving yards and 36 career receiving touchdowns are both tops in school history. Despite being the focus of every defense every game, Floyd managed to produce at an elite level, and he may just be a first-round draft pick this spring.
The drop-off behind Floyd, however, was noticeable. Most of Notre Dame's other production in the pass game came from tight end Tyler Eifert (we'll get to his group in a later post). T.J. Jones and Theo Riddick were solid, hauling in 37 and 36 catches, respectively, for 359 and 429 yards on the season. But Riddick, who dealt with a hamstring injury toward the end of the season, returned to running back in Week 12, and his future may be there. The most impressive receiver behind Floyd may have just been Robby Toma. The 5-foot-9, 185-pounder received three starts and took full advantage of the opportunity, catching 15 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown. His emergence has certainly helped with the decision to move Riddick to the backfield.
Backups: John Goodman had seven catches for 65 yards. Toma was a backup for much of the season before Riddick's injury — and Toma's ensuing strong performance — showed what a threat he could be. After that, the situation was pretty bleak. No other Notre Dame receiver made a reception, and the unit as a whole could take a step back next season without the big-play threat of Floyd. Freshman DaVaris Daniels redshirted this season after being ranked the 12th-best receiver in the nation by ESPNU and could emerge down the line.