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Young WR’s continue to impress

Deirdre Krasula | Monday, October 13, 2008

CHAPEL HILL N.C. – Talk about a head hanger – and that’s basically all Michael Floyd could do as he tore off his chinstrap and walked off the field.

Cue the rest of the Irish wide receivers and the rest of the team.

“That team today expected to win, they didn’t come here hoping to win, they expected to win, and they didn’t,” Irish coach Charlie Weiss said.

But Floyd’s fumble, or attempt at a lateral pass (whatever it was) was far from a representation of Notre Dame’s receiving performance against the Tar Heels, after all, Floyd did put the Irish up 6-0 in just the fifth minute of play. And the Irish passing game was certainly not at a standstill. Notre Dame had North Carolina beat 199-126 in passing yards at halftime and again in the second half 184-75. But time, and the review gods were not in Notre Dame’s favor.

“We had the mentality that we wanted to go out there and just keep bringing it cause ya know the whole game we moved the ball very easily ya know we just ran out of time,” wide receiver Golden Tate said.

And the Tar Heels never stopped nipping at Notre Dame’s heels – fighting back with two field goals to bring the game within four in the second quarter. Yet Jimmy Clausen and his receivers kept the ball rolling.

With just under six minutes left to play in the first half, Clausen launched a pass down the left sideline that looked like Tar Heel cornerback Kendric Burney was likely to intercept – but there stood Tate on the North Carolina 8-yardline, ball in hands. A 47-yard completion that would put Floyd in the end zone one more time before half, and another possible turnover avoided thanks to those golden mitts. But the glory of Clausen’s 7-yard pass to Floyd in the final minute of the half was only momentary – North Carolina answered with another field goal to cut the Irish lead to 17-9 headed into the locker room.

Enter the second half, and a whole other ball game. In the first 20 seconds of the second half Quan Sturdivant intercepted a Clausen pass intended for Kyle Rudolph and returned it 32 yards for the Tar Heel touchdown. Yet somehow, Clausen took the ball back in his hands and his wide receivers answered right back. On first and ten, Clausen launched a 16-yard pass to wide receiver Duval Kamara, a face that has been missing from the Irish lineup. And just as it looked like Clausen might throw his second interception of the game right into the hands of Bruce Carter, Kamara knocked Carter to the sidelines forcing the ball out of his hands. Clausen then threw another 16-yard completion to Kamara. Talk about a response from a player who’s playing time has dwindled since last season.

“That play just felt real good, we scored on that drive, kept the drive going, so it felt good to go out there and help the team,” Kamara said.

The drive would eventually end with James Aldridge rushing for the touchdown and the 24-16 Irish lead. But those would be the last points posted by the Irish offense.

Down by five with the ball on the North Carolina 33 and only 11 seconds left to play, the wide receivers showed a glimmer of hope, but there just wasn’t enough time and chance wasn’t on their side – all they could do was hang their heads and feel bad.

“That team in that locker room today is the first time in a long time where I looked in their faces against a good opponent and it’s a team that really feels bad, and the reason they feel really bad is because they’re starting to get it, they are starting to get it. This is not the same team that everyone saw at the beginning of the year. This team is starting to get it,” Weis said.

They just haven’t gotten it yet.