Hopkins has another big night as Clemson rolls past Duke

by - Senior Writer -
Hopkins has another big night as Clemson rolls past Duke

DURHAM, NC – Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
So. Wide Receiver
#2 6-1, 205
Fort Myers, FL

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or Nuk Hopkins? Pick your poison, defensive coordinators.

Clemson’s dynamic duo continues to impress, with records falling each and every week, and Saturday night at Duke was no different.

Last week at Wake Forest, Watkins broke Hopkins’ record – set at the end of September - with his 202 receiving yards on eight receptions. Saturday night in Durham, Watkins showed that he is continuing to regain his form after missing three of the season’s first six games, catching six passes for 97 yards and a touchdown.

But it was Hopkins who caused most of the excitement Saturday night, catching four passes for 128 yards – all in the first half – with three of those catches going for touchdowns. The first touchdown came on a five-yard fade route, and he then added 58 and 45 yard touchdown receptions before sitting back and watching his understudies complete Clemson’s 56-20 win over the Blue Devils.

Hopkins continues his special season:

*His three touchdown receptions in the first quarter tied a Clemson record for a game and he tied his own record for a quarter. He had three touchdown receptions in the second period against Ball State earlier this year. He did that in just 8:11. Tonight he scored three touchdowns in 7:47.
*He became Clemson’s career leader and single season leader in touchdown receptions in the first half. He now has 22 touchdown catches for his career, two more than Aaron Kelly (2005-08) and one more on a season basis than Watkins had last year.
*Hopkins went over 1000 receiving yards for the season, and finished the game with 2652 yards in his career. He moved ahead of Perry Tuttle (2534) in the first half and needs just 30 receiving yards against Maryland next week to go ahead of his uncle, Terry Smith, who had 2681. Hopkins needs just 82 receiving yards against Maryland to break Aaron Kelly’s record of 2733.

Hopkins said that he and Watkins push each other to be better.

“Always. It’s like a friendly competition between us,” he said after the game. “We are like brothers. It’s just fun to come out here and compete. It makes the team better.”

He also said he doesn’t care about the records.

“Records are just records. They are meant to be broken,” Hopkins said. “One day, somebody is going to come along and break my records. It feels good for the time being to have them. That’s not my main goal or my focus. My main goal is to win games and win championships. Personal goals, that’s kind of second for me. That’s a good achievement to have, I guess. I have to thank the offensive line and Tajh. I have to give all of the credit to those guys because it’s not me.”

Hopkins said that defenses can’t focus on just one player.

“We have so many guns out there. You have to pick your poison on who you want to focus on,” he said. “Hot Rod [McDowell] and D.J. HowardD.J. Howard
RS So. Running Back
#22 5-11, 195
Lincoln, AL

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did a good job picking up the slack for Andre EllingtonAndre Ellington
RS Sr. Running Back
#23 5-10, 195
Moncks Corner, SC

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. Martavis BryantMartavis Bryant
So. Wide Receiver
#1 6-5, 200
Calhoun Falls, SC

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and Jaron BrownJaron Brown
Gr. Wide Receiver
#18 6-2, 205
Cheraw, SC

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and Charone PeakeCharone Peake
So. Wide Receiver
#19 6-3, 200
Moore, SC

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and Sammy- there were so many guys out there that made plays today. You really couldn’t even tell that Andre was out, but he’s a big part of this offense.”

He then said there is no denying the chemistry that he and Boyd have built up.

“Me and Tajh have great chemistry. We’ve been together since my freshman year,” Hopkins said. “We kind of know where each other is going to be and when the ball is going to be there. It’s all about timing. It comes with practice. Practice makes perfect and it’s true because we practice those things a lot. We just came out here and made it look easy because we’ve practiced it over time and the chemistry.”

Other Hopkins quotes

On the rest of the season

“We just knew that we have a lot ahead of us even though we are second in the ACC. Our goal was first coming into the season. We still feel like we have a good shot at things if things roll our way. Guys kind of overlook teams like this, but we knew that Duke was a good team and that if we did what we were supposed to do we would be successful.”

On Duke playing man coverage

“Coaches have confidence in their players and that’s what happens. Sometimes things don’t go your way when you play man. They are good players. I’m not downing them at all. We just made plays when they ball was thrown our way.”

On playing in front of a small crowd

“We really don’t worry about the crowd and all of the other factors outside of the field. We know if we come out and play our game, things will go our way. We play in front of like 80,000 people and this was probably 30,000. It really doesn’t matter to us.”

On playing at home the final three games

“We are undefeated and have a long streak at home right now. I think we have a chance to have the longest streak ever at home in the history. We don’t worry about that, but it’s something in the back of my mind that I want to achieve.”

On not letting down at the end of this season

“That says a lot about the maturity and the seniors taking the leadership role of this team and just coming out here stepping up and making plays for this team. Older guys kind of know about letting a younger and less mature team come out here and get beat. It says a lot about our team and our coaches and our experience.”

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