This weeks helmet stickers
If you watched the Clemson vs. Duke game over the weekend, you know that wasn't a more dominant player on the field than DeAndre Hopkins.
The Tigers coaching staff clearly believed that no one in the Blue Devils secondary could cover Hopkins, and they went to to him early and often.
The junior wide receiver hauled in three touhdown receptions in the first quarter alone, two of which were for 40+ yards (5 yds., 58 yds, and 45 yds).
When it was announced during the offseason that Sammy Watkins would be suspended for the first two games of the season, many fans wondered if Hopkins could handle the load as the go-to receiver in Chad Morris offense.
He's been proving all season long that he is just as explosive and elusive as Watkins, and he remains Tajh Boyd's favorite target, even after Watkins returned to the lineup.
Hopkins put on a clinic Saturday night at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, and his stats could have been even more impressive if the coaching staff chose to run up the score. Instead, they let some backups receive playing time once the Tigers had sealed the victory.
So, Hopkins ended the night with 4 receptions for 128 yards and 3 TDs. Had he played the whole ballgame, he could have easily had a 5 touchdown night.
Backup Running Backs
After Andre Ellington left the game in the first quarter with an injury, the Clemson offense had to rely on backup running backs Rod McDowell, D.J. Howard, and Zach Brooks.
In that situation, you just hope your team has a reliable replacement. Clemson proved they have three!
McDowell, Howard, and Brooks exceeded expectations, combining for 215 yards and touchdown on 38 carries.
Obviously, all Tiger fans want to see Ellington lining up in the backfield, especially with the contest versus the Gamecocks being just three weeks away, but it's nice to know that if he's injured or needs a breather, there are backups who can adequately get the job done.
The Defensive Backs
I know it must seem like you are reading the same article each week because I constantly pick on the defensive backfield at Clemson, but these guys are a dumpster fire.
Two plays after the Tigers had taken complete control of the ballgame, going up 14-3 after a DeAndre Hopkins 58-yard touchdown reception, the Clemson defense lost the momentum, giving a 77-yard touchdown pass to the Blue Devils.
First off, Xavier Brewer got burned bad on that play. Flat out, he is too slow to play corner.
Secondly, where was his safety help? In the replay on TV, you never see a safety come into the frame, so Brewer is left trying to run down Duke's wide receiver Jamison Crowder all by himself. Has the defensive backfield ever heard the term 'pursuit angle', much less know how to run one properly to prevent a touchdown?
Thirdly, Brewer gave up on the 10-yard line. Go back and watch it yourself. Yes, it is unlikely he could have made a tackle in those last 10 yards, but he quit running. It's bad enough when you get burned. It's even worse when you don't seem to care. His lack of effort on that play should land him on the bench.
Beshaud Breeland dropped an easy would-be interception in this game, and Garry Peters looked exactly like what he is: a sophomore who is still struggling to pick up the speed of the college game.
The legendary Florida State coach Bobby Bowden once told me in an interview, “Football comes down to three things. Blocking! Tackling! And don't turn the ball over!”
Clemson did two of the three Saturday night.
The Tigers had four turnovers, including three interceptions thrown by Tajh Boyd. Those miscues didn't hurt the team much, considering the quarterback also threw five touchdown passes, but he still needs to work on his ball security and decision making.
He's got a big arm and was having a career night. No need to get greedy and push the ball down the field when the play doesn't develop.
And speaking of ball security, DeAndre Hopkins did everything right Saturday against the Blue Devils, except the one time he put the ball on the ground, fumbling on the Tigers first possession of the second quarter.
Sam Cooper also had a ball taken right out of his arms, but luckily for Clemson, the play didn't result in a turnover.
It's November, when league championships are won, and when BCS at-large bids are decided, so now is not the time to turn the ball over.
It's one thing against Duke. It's another against N.C. State or South Carolina.
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