Miles Boykin vs. Trayvon Mullen
With the expected battle it will be to move the ball on the ground, throwing the ball is going to be the biggest factor for this Irish offense. If Book can stay clean and make plays through the air, Notre Dame has a chance to put points on the board.
It helps that if there is one weakness of this Clemson defense, it is their secondary. Even though they only give up 184 yards through the air par game, a lot of that is attributed to how disruptive the front four are in getting pressure on the quarterback. When teams are able to protect and give their quarterback time to throw, Clemson has been vulnerable through the air. Kellen Mond of Texas A&M threw for 430 yards in their Week Two upset bid, while Jake Bentley of South Carolina put up 510 yards and 35 points on Clemson’s defense in the last week of the regular season.
Book’s favorite target this season has been Miles Boykin. The senior has hauled in 54 receptions for 803 yards and 8 touchdowns. His production and ability to come down with contested passes has been huge for this offense, and he will need to continue that Saturday.
Most likely lining up across from Boykin tomorrow will be cornerback Trayvon Mullen. The 6-2 corner comes into the game with mediocre stats on the year, only recording 25 tackles, one sack, no interceptions, and three passes defended. He was considered a 2nd-round draft pick coming into the season but has seen his stock slide over the course of the season and is now seen as a late 3rd or early 4th rounder.
He has the size and athletic ability to match up with the taller, physical Boykin, but I don’t think it’s going to stop Book and Chip Long from targeting him on multiple occasions. Coupled with dealing with Chase Claypool and Chris Finke in the slot, Clemson is going to be facing one of the better receiving corps they’ve seen this season.
As long as Book has the time, I think this is another big game for Boykin in the passing game. This isn’t too far of a stretch, as he seems to just have an itch for making plays in bowl games (looking at you, LSU fans).