It's still the off-season and college sports news is, at best, sparse. So to pass the time we're making up our own news. Over the next three weeks (or so) we'll be previewing portions of Michigan Football's upcoming 2010 schedule. Specifically, we'll be previewing the most dangerous players on each team Michigan will be playing this year. Some will be on offense, some on defense, and all of them will be people worthy of your scorn. We've got a full 2010 football schedule, so we'll break down the key cog to each opponent one at a time. Yesterday we started off with UConn's starting QB, Zach Frazer. With Notre Dame next on the schedule it's time to talk about the best receiver Michigan will face all season, a 6'3" wide receiving menace named Michael Floyd.
Who Is He, Exactly?
The devil in a golden helmet. A true junior at Notre Dame, Michael Floyd was one of, if not the, top receivers in the 2008 class. A five star recruit according to both Rivals and Scout, Floyd spurned home state Minnesota and chose Notre Dame over a who's who of college football (Florida, USC, OSU, Miami [YTM] and yes Michigan). Lining up in Wies' pro style offense, Floyd was an immediate weapon. Floyd tallied four 100+ yard games in 2008 and caught 7 touchdowns as a true freshman, setting all kinds of Notre Dame freshman receiving records in the process. In 2009 he was even better, tallying 9 TDs in just 44 receptions and adding nearly 800 yards to his career stats. All this despite breaking his collarbone in the third game of the season against Michigan State, while (almost) catching a touchdown pass. Floyd missed five games (six, if you count the MSU game where he didn't make it out of the first quarter) and still amassed these gaudy stats. The only time he failed to register a touchdown in 2009 was against Pitt, and he still managed to catch over 100 passing yards. Like I said, he's the devil in a golden helmet.
So, Explain Why We Should Hate Him
Floyd is hands down the most dangerous receiver Michigan will face all season long. He's tall. He's athletic. He's strong. He's fast. He's a match up nightmare. He was also the guy who spent the last Michigan Notre Dame game setting Donovan Warren and Boubacar Cissoko on fire. Looking forward to this year's contest in South Bend I have no clue how Michigan intends to contain him. While Troy Woolfolk is a great player, he is still very inexperienced and unproven against top end talent.
The other issue is that Weis is no longer screwing up the play calling in South Bend. While Charlie did have some success here and there, his play calling (to me, anyway) was erratic and always seemed to go away from his strengths unless Notre Dame was playing from behind. This year not only is Floyd free of that, but he has a coach who seems to turn unheralded short receivers into Rocket Ishmail just by breathing on them. Dayne Crist, though inexperienced, has a strong arm and will be able to get the ball out to Floyd either in stride or as a jump ball that he will most assuredly win.
When you're short on defensive backs, a guy like Floyd is the last thing you want to see on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage. He's the best player on Notre Dame's team this year, so if you need other reasons not to like him come September 11, 2010, you're probably not a Michigan fan.
Give Me His Weaknesses, So That I Might Exploit Them
For all of Floyd's incredible talents and strengths, he seems to be made out of balsa wood. Missing three games in 2008 and then five (in reality six) in 2009 to injury, Floyd seems just as talented at getting injured. Sure that's probably not a fair thing to say, but I'm not trying to be fair, I'm trying to find a weakness. So hit him hard and hit him often. The other issue is that Floyd isn't a top end burner. He's good at out-muscling people for the football, but he's not someone who's going to run by his coverage. If you recall the 2009 game, Floyd simply out positioned his cover for catches. He didn't leave them in the dust. That should allow some coverage to rotate over to help a little.
In a system sense, Floyd is now the undisputed top dog of this offense with Golden Tate's departure. So not only will he draw the majority of the top cover assignments, but he's also going to be without a lot of help. For all the recruiting hype surrounding Duval Kamara, he's never lived up to it and a majority of the WR depth on the team is underclassmen. Floyd will get some help from Tight End Kyle Rudolph, but other than that Floyd's swinging single out there. Another issue will be Dayne Crist under for the first time. Even though Crist got a snap or two last season (1TD/1INT, 130 yards), he's still very inexperienced and is learning a new system. There will be some growing pains here, especially when you're talking about learning a pro-style offense. The other issue is Crist isn't going to have a lot of time to throw the ball. Notre Dame must replace three starters on a perpetually underachieving offensive line. So there are weaknesses. Michigan must exploit them.
But, again, if Crist has any time to throw Floyd will make Michigan pay dearly. Floyd is Notre Dame's best player and most dangerous offensive weapon. That is why you must learn to hate him, and hate him now.