Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book feels the Irish can run the football on Clemson’s defense, at least that is what he said during media days this past week in South Bend, Ind.
Clemson, who will play the Irish in the Cotton Bowl as part of the College Football Playoff Semifinals on Dec. 29, rank fourth in the country in rushing yards allowed per game (92.9) and first in yards per attempt (2.4).
During the season, the Tigers did not allow a single team to rush for 200 yards in a game and seven times held the opposition under 100 yards on the ground.
“I think we are going to be able to run the ball, and one thing I am going to work on is getting the ball out quick and getting it to our playmakers,” Book said.
One of the playmakers for Notre Dame (12-0) is running back Dexter Williams. After being suspended for the first four games, he came back to rush for 941 yards and 12 touchdowns. He is averaging 117.6 yards per game and 6.6 per carry.
The Tigers (13-0) will try to counter with perhaps the best defensive front in the country. Thanks to All-Americans like Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell and Dexter Lawrence, they ranked second nationally in tackles behind the line of scrimmage (122) and are No. 1 in the S&P+ havoc defense and rushing defense.
Clemson has not allowed a running back to rush for 100 yards in 19 consecutive games. The Tigers defensive front does not do one thing great, but it does it all great.
“They are just extremely fast, big, just in terms of their defensive line, obviously,” Book said. “Everyone knows about them. We just have to make plays, and when we have those opportunities, we have to make plays, the big plays.
“I have to get the ball out quickly and there is some other stuff we have to do, but their defense speaks for itself. It is going to be a great challenge, but we are all excited for the challenge that it is going to be.”
Notre Dame is averaging 190.5 yards per game on the ground.