It’s the thought that ran through my mind multiple times this season when Tajh Boyd connected with DeAndre “Nuk” Hopkins.
Just Monday, the junior Boyd targeted the junior Hopkins for 22 of his 50 throws and two more that drew pass interference calls – a Clemson-record-tying 13 hauled in by Nuk (a record set by him in the opener) at 14.7 yards per catch with two touchdowns.
Hopkins isn’t known as the big-play threat in the 1-2 punch with sophomore stud Sammy Watkins, but the numbers show they’re at least on par with each other.
The D.W. Daniel product had 24 catches of 20 yards or more on the year and is second nationally in yards per catch (17.1) of 90-plus-yard a game receivers.
Going into the season, Watkins held school records in receiving yards, receiving yards per game and touchdown receptions – all shattered by Hopkins, with 1,405 yards (1,219 the previous record), 108.1 per (93.8) and 18 scores (12) – with 14 less targets (108) and the same amount of receptions (82).
He caught 76 percent of the passes thrown his way and touchdowns made up 16.7 percent of those (for reference – Watkins had a 9.8 TD rate in ’11).
Hopkins ended 2012 on a 10-game streak with a touchdown catch, breaking a 23-year old ACC record formerly held by Virginia’s Herman Moore. His 18 touchdown receptions were another ACC record.
His partner-in-crime Boyd knows a little something about breaking records, with 25 game, season or career Clemson marks set this year. And that’s just a part of an unprecedented run in ACC history, becoming the first player to post back-to-back 4,000-yard total offense seasons.
In the same timespan, Hopkins has racked up 23 scores and nearly 2,400 receiving yards (2,383), already setting the school standard in both (27 and 3,020 respectively) and 100-yard receiving games (12).
Hopkins had six 100-yard receiving games and Boyd seven 300-yard passing games this season, all wins, with both coming on the same day in victories over Boston College, Georgia Tech, Duke and LSU. In those contests, the two combined for 29 passing/receiving touchdowns.
The junior combo stacks up with some of the elite of college football recently.
Miles: Boyd the MVP of night
Nuk’s yards per catch number is higher than 2012 West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey (14.4), 2011 Baylor’s Kendall Wright (15.4), 2009 Texas’ Jordan Shipley (12.8) and 2007 Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree (14.6).
He hauled in more touchdown receptions than Shipley (13) and Wright (14), but stacked against all 100-catch receivers, his total receiving yards weren’t quite as high.
Boyd averaged more yards per pass than WVU’s Geno Smith (9.1-8.2) and had more passing yards (3,896-3,521) and touchdown passes (36-27) than the Longhorns’ Colt McCoy (36-27) and one less total touchdown (46) than Heisman winner Robert Griffin III.
If it’s the last season for one or both in a Tiger uniform, some of the records could stick around for at least longer than a season – eyes towards a healthy 2013 for Watkins in the third edition of Chad Morris’ offense.
Top recent QB-WR duos
|School (Year): QB||Stats||WR||Stats|
|Texas Tech ('07): Graham Harrell||5,705 PY/71.8 Cmp.%/48 TD-14 INT||Michael Crabtree||1,962 RY/22 TD/14.6 YPR|
|Texas ('09): Colt McCoy||3,521/70.6/27-12||Jordan Shipley||1,485/13/12.8|
|Baylor ('11): Robert Griffin III||4,293/72.4/37-6/699 RY/10 TD||Kendall Wright||1,663/14/15.4|
|WVU ('12): Geno Smith||4,201/71.2/42-6||Stedman Bailey||1,627/25/14.4|
|Clemson ('12): Tajh Boyd||3,896/67.2/36-13/514/10||Nuk Hopkins||1,405/18/17.1|
(Credit SeldomUsedReserve.com for some of the stats)