Clemson's quest for perfection earns Nuke Hopkins an earful

Dabo Swinney: 'I was trying to make a point – forget about the last play and be dialed in here'

Clemson Tigers wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins runs past North Carolina Tar Heels cornerback Charles Brown in the first quarter.

Photo by Nathan Gray

Clemson Tigers wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins runs past North Carolina Tar Heels cornerback Charles Brown in the first quarter.

What does Clemson’s quest for perfection look like?

For DeAndre Hopkins, it looked a lot like Dabo Swinney in his face.

Well on his way to a career kind of day – nine catches for 157 yards and a touchdown – Hopkins suffered a momentary mental lapse.

He lined up on the wrong side of the formation, and the Tigers - their offense humming along at that point – were forced to take an unwanted timeout.

As the Tigers huddled at the edge of the field, Swinney singled Hopkins out, all but crawled into his helmet, and delivered an obvious butt-chewing.

He still wasn’t finished, as Hopkins remained on the sideline as the Tigers ran their next play.

Asked about the incident after the game, Swinney described the interaction as a heat-of-the-battle teachable moment.

“You’ve got to play every play – every play counts,” said Swinney. “So what if you had a great catch – we’ve got to play the next play.

“It was frustrating because we felt we had a great call for a touchdown and had tempo going. And then he lines up wrong, and he’s not checking the sideline. He just missed it. So we had to call timeout and it kind of killed our rhythm.

“That’s just part of ball – you coach every play and you coach every player. Nuke is a tough-minded guy and he’s disciplined. He responded the right way and went back in and made some great plays.”

Swinney said the lesson to be learned is “that you’ve got to play every play.”

“I challenge our players all the time about being complete players,” he said. “So if you have nine catches and you play 60 plays, what did you do those other 51 plays? Before we start patting anybody on the back, let’s see how he played.

“There are a lot of things that go into it.

“I think (Hopkins) played a great game – that was just an instance where he just busted. I was trying to make a point – forget about the last play and be dialed in here.”

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