Passing game clicking as No. 10 Clemson continues racking up yardage and touchdowns
DURHAM, N.C. – Tajh Boyd is flirting with school records, DeAndre Hopkins keeps hauling in touchdowns and Sammy Watkins is emerging from a slow start.
Clemson's passing attack looks as though it's still improving entering the final month of the regular season.
The 10thth-ranked Tigers (8-1, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) had 718 yards — 379 through the air — during their 56-20 win at Duke on Saturday night. Boyd passed for five touchdowns to match the program record for the second straight game, while Hopkins had three TD catches to set a school record for most career touchdown catches.
That performance against Duke — Clemson had 28 points in the first quarter and 42 by halftime — was one reason Boyd sounded so pleased after the Tigers' fifth straight win.
"I feel like we're starting to peak," Boyd said. "We still haven't hit it yet but it's coming along and I'm very encouraged about this game."
Boyd completed 16 of 23 passes for 344 yards, though he did most of that damage by halftime. After throwing for a Clemson-record 428 yards last week, Boyd has thrown for 772 yards and 10 touchdowns in the past two games. He now has an ACC-best 25 TD passes.
Hopkins reached 1,000 yards receiving on the season and had all three of his touchdown catches in the opening quarter, pushing him to 13 for the season. He had scoring catches of 5, 58 and 45 yards.
"Me and Tajh have great chemistry," Hopkins said. "We kind of know where each other's going to be and when the ball's going to be there. It comes with practice. Practice makes perfect and it's true because we practice those things a lot and those situations. We just came out here and made it look easy because we've been practicing over time and the chemistry we have."
Watkins, a freshman all-American last season, had missed three games because of suspension and illness. He had his first touchdown catch last week at Wake Forest to go with a program-record 202 yards receiving, then had a 30-yard TD catch from Boyd in the final minute of the first quarter against the Blue Devils.
Hopkins had four catches for 128 yards, while Watkins had six catches for 97 yards.
"We had a lot of 1-on-1 matchups," Boyd said. "It's one of the things that was stressed this week in practice. We knew we'd get matchups of that nature. ... We had to win those matchups. It was a challenge for the receivers, it was a challenge for the linemen it was a challenge for me to put the ball on them. I feel like we did that pretty fluently early on. I'm just proud of the way the guys responded."