SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Wide receiver Miles Boykin is usually the tallest guy in a classroom at Notre Dame. The Irish offensive huddle is another matter.
“Once we had Chase (Claypool), Cole (Kmet), Alize (Mack) and me, and I’m the smallest receiver out there on the field,” said the 6-foot-4, 228-pound senior wideout, one of the shortest of six Notre Dame receivers and tight ends.
Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi isn’t laughing and knows his Panthers (3-3) will have their hands full when they take on undefeated No. 5 Notre Dame (6-0) on Saturday.
“I can’t tell the difference between their tight ends and the receivers,” Narduzzi said. “I think our guys are going to get confused. They put them all in 80 numbers and you can’t tell. They’re all big, they’re all fast … .”
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly understands Narduzzi’s confusion — he’s spent the last 15 years watching football make way for big receivers. And the Panthers have their own big guy: freshman tight end Grant Carrigan, who is 6-foot-7 and weighs 280 pounds.
“When offences changed from much more of a pro-style to much more of a spread, you had a deeper talent pool,” Kelly said. “Guys started to show up on that side of the ball that were longer and taller. Size does a lot of things. One of it is catching radius. They still have to run, but they give you other options. Blocking on the perimeter is another.”
Prior to this season, Boykin was best remembered for his one-handed grab of an Ian Book pass and resulting 55-yard touchdown with 1:28 remaining in a 21-17 victory over LSU at the Citrus Bowl.
Now, with the 6-foot-and-change Book at quarterback, Boykin’s numbers are going through the roof. The two have hooked up 19 times for 261 yards in Notre Dame’s victories over Stanford (38-17) and Virginia Tech (45-23). For the season, Boykin has 28 receptions for 428 yards (15.3 yards per catch) and three touchdowns.
One of Boykin’s running mates at wide receiver is Claypool, a just over 6-4 junior who has 18 catches for 200 yards and 2 TDs.
Kmet, a sophomore reserve, is the tallest tight end at 6-5 1/2 (he weighs 258 pounds). Senior starter Mack goes 6-4 3/4 (247), as does grad tight end Nic Weishar. A fourth tight end, sophomore Brock Wright, measures in at 6-4 1/2 (260). Mack leads all tight ends with 19 catches for 209 yards. Weishar has two TDs and Mack and Wright have one each.
Then there’s senior slot receiver Chris Finke, who goes 5-9 1/2.
“Miles is a physical specimen,” said Finke, who has 19 catches for 243 yards. “He’s 6-foot-4, he has great hands, he runs good routes and he’s fast, too. When you have Mike and Chase and all the big tight ends, it’s a lot for a defence to worry about.”
A TALE OF TWO QBS (PITT VERSION)
Narduzzi is impressed with Book, who comes into the game ranked third nationally with his 73.3 completion percentage (77 of 105 for 887 yards and …read more