Tyler Eifert has one catch over his last two games. It was a big one — a 38-yarder late in the fourth quarter that essentially sealed Notre Dame’s 13-6 win over Michigan two weeks ago — but it was the only one.
t’s not exactly what Notre Dame fans — or Eifert, for that matter — had in mind for the All-America tight end after he spurned the NFL to come back for his senior season. Eifert had 63 catches for 803 yards last season, but only has nine for 158 so far this season.
It’s certainly not by design. Without Michael Floyd on the field, opponents have targeted Eifert as the Irish’s No. 1 receiving threat. A relatively meager passing game with a rookie quarterback in Everett Golson hasn’t helped, either.
“Teams are looking for me,” Eifert said. “I don’t think Coach would design the plays not to give me the ball. We run the plays and the ball goes where it’s supposed to be and the other guys have to step up.”
Golson and Tommy Rees indeed have spread the ball around. Tailback Theo Riddick leads the team with 14 catches, while T.J. Jones has 11, and Eifert, DaVaris Daniels and Robby Toma have nine each. Eifert has been used as a blocker more, too, to help give Golson more time.
“Whatever, wherever I’m at, whatever the play is, that’s what I’m going to do to the best of my ability,” Eifert said.
Offensive coordinator Chuck Martin said last week that he wants Eifert to get the ball more. Of course, he’d like to get the ball to anyone at this point. The Irish rank 86th in the nation at 211 passing yards per game.
“Yes, definitely, no question,” Martin said. “We’d like to get more involved in the passing game. I don’t think it’s as much right now a product of Tyler not being involved in the passing game as much as how efficiently we can throw the ball in certain situations. And make good decisions and get the ball where it needs to get to. Trust me, Tyler’s been doing awesome and he’s been an unbelievable competitor and teammate. But we’re just a better team in the ball gets in (Number) 80’s direction more. It’s certainly not by design that the ball’s not getting to him.”
Eifert admits to a little frustration at his situation. But it’s quickly tempered by the team’s success.
“As a competitor and someone that wants to make plays, I’d rather be getting the ball,” he said. “But when you’re 4-0, there’s not a whole lot you can complain about.”