Notre Dame Football: Washington State

Weekend rewind: Notre Dame

October, 3, 2011
10/03/11
1:00
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A look back at the good, bad and ugly (yes, even a 38-10 win has some low points) from Notre Dame's thrashing of Purdue:

[+] EnlargeNotre Dame cornerback Gary Gray
AP Photo/AJ MastNotre Dame cornerback Gary Gray's interception set the tone of the game for the Irish.
The Good: Notre Dame did not commit a turnover in its 38-10 win over Purdue. Tommy Rees threw three touchdown passes, the Fighting Irish averaged 7.2 yards per rush and Michael Floyd got back in the thick of things with 12 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown. Oh, and the first-team defense did not give up a touchdown, either.

The Bad: Special teams play continues to be a head-scratcher. David Ruffer had one field goal blocked and missed another, and John Goodman netted -3 yards on two punt returns, which doesn't include letting one go right by him for a 61-yard punt in the first quarter. Brian Kelly said Sunday he wasn't impressed with kickoffs, either.

The Ugly: Long-snapper Jordan Cowart picked up a 15-yard personal foul penalty after a mini brouhaha on a second-quarter punt, drawing the ire of his head coach. Kelly revealed Sunday that Cowart broke his hand in the scuffle, something that has to infuriate him. The Irish will still try to play Cowart this Saturday. Purdue's 13 penalties for 118 yards weren't exactly pretty sights, either.

Turning point: Gary Gray's pick on the first pass of the game and Rees' ensuing 35-yard touchdown pass to Floyd two plays later never gave Purdue a chance in the game, starting the rout early and never looking back.

Best of the rest: Notre Dame's 551 total yards of offense were its most since a 592-yard performance Oct. 31, 2009 against Washington State. … The Irish's 34 first downs were two shy of the school record of 36, set against Army in 1974. … Notre Dame's 289 rushing yards were its most since a 320-yard effort Nov. 29, 2003 at Stanford. Likewise, the Irish's 6.9 yards per rush were their highest average since averaging 7.1 yards per rush Aug. 28, 1999 against Kansas (minimum 20 carries). … With defensive end Stephon Tuitt not making the trip because of a missed-class violation, sophomore Kona Schwenke lost his redshirt option by entering in the first half. … Dayne Crist entered late in the fourth quarter and completed his only pass attempt, a 10-yard throw to George Atkinson III. "I have a lot of respect for Dayne," Kelly said. "I'm not going to throw him in there in meaningless kinds of situations. But he wanted to get in the game."

Next Up: The Irish host an Air Force team that ranks third in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 364.5 yards on the ground per game. The Falcons improved to 3-1 on Saturday with a 35-34 overtime win over Navy that featured a controversial unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Midshipmen in overtime, forcing an extra-long extra point attempt that was blocked. Air Force's only defeat this season is a 35-19 loss to defending Rose Bowl champion TCU.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Michael Floyd got up from his news conference Wednesday, grabbed his hip and looked at a nearby Notre Dame official.

"I'm getting old, man," the senior wide receiver said as he walked out of the Isban Auditorium inside Notre Dame's Guglielmo Athletics Complex.

[+] EnlargeMichael Floyd
AP Photo/Tony DingMichael Floyd has 31 catches for 397 yards this season -- averaging nearly 13 yards per reception.
Whatever discomfort Floyd felt likely had more to do with sitting down for nearly 12 full minutes than anything else. Three games into his senior season, Floyd has been moved all over the field, giving defenses different looks as he blitzes past the Fighting Irish career receiving records and climbs up the ladder of elite wideouts in the nation.

Floyd's 397 receiving yards trail only Washington State's Marquess Wilson (429 yards) for most in the nation. And his 31 catches are just two behind national leader Robert Woods of USC.

Floyd admitted that being looked at as the best receiver in the country has served as motivation, but he is trying not to look too far ahead with nine games remaining.

"I think about it all the time, but it's early in the season and I think I can get better as the season goes on," Floyd said. "Just gotta make sure I keep a level head and don't make mistakes, and improve on the things that I need to the most."

What he has improved on so far is what head coach Brian Kelly calls "the nuances of being a wide receiver" -- blocking, getting more physical and even adding more elements to his speed.

"We've moved him around a lot, as you know," Kelly said. "He's been in virtually every position. His knowledge base of being able to pick up so many different positions has probably been, I would say, the biggest jump for him. I'm really, really impressed with his burst. He didn't have that burst last year. This year when he turns the corner, he's got a burst to him. So I think those are the two things that stand out."

Floyd said that next level of quickness off the ball has come with losing weight during the offseason.

To elevate his game another level, however, he won't be watching his peers across the country.

"I don't really learn from college football players," Floyd said. "I tend to watch NFL most because they're the kind of guys who made it to the highest level.

"But when I look at players from that level, I look at little guys. So I feel like you can get the most information from the little guys -- quick feet, just being able to get off the ball."

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