Boyd, Hopkins feast on weary LSU defense - Sports

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2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl Boyd, Hopkins feast on weary LSU defense

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Posted: Tuesday, January 1, 2013 5:00 pm

John Chavis' defense came from every which way he could draw up.

Junior linebacker Kevin Minter blitzed up the middle while the junior defensive end duo of Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo took turns assaulting the blindside.

And, without missing a beat, Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd just kept getting better.

The ACC Player of the Year absorbed vicious hits all evening but rose up to pick apart the LSU secondary to the tune of 377 passing yards and two touchdowns – garnering Most Outstanding Offensive Player honors in Clemson's come-from-behind 25-24 win.

"He has poise in the pocket and he's a tough dude," Minter said. "I know Mingo hit him a couple times and I got a good lick on him. But he just kept getting up."

When wide receiver Sammy Watkins, a first-team All American as a freshman last season, went down with a right ankle injury on the second play from scrimmage, Boyd said he and the Clemson offense dawned on the pregame speech from head coach Dabo Swinney.

"Before the game, coach talked about how we would face adversity," Boyd said. "We weren't expecting that adversity to happen so early in the game, but we were ready and stepped up."

Boyd and company stepped up, and then some, as he teamed up with second-team All American wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and 1000 yard rusher Andre Ellington to create a fast-paced game plan that left the LSU defensive line ragged and its already questionable secondary even more vulnerable.

Hopkins had his way with LSU junior cornerback Tharold Simon all night, constantly getting behind his coverage to tie his own Clemson record with 13 catches and two scores.

"[Hopkins] has great ability and he's done a really, really good job of being productive," Chavis said. "There were opportunities to get off the field and we just couldn't."

On the field for 100 plays, the LSU defense was clearly fatigued as the game reached the fourth quarter as Mingo, Montgomery, senior defensive tackle Lavar Edwards and junior safety Craig Loston all fell to the turf with cramps during Clemson's final drive, much to the chagrin of the Clemson faithful who saw it as a technique to stall its potent offense.

"They can get upset all they want," said LSU coach Les Miles. "The reality of it is, one team played a hundred plays on defense and one team played 50."

Montgomery, who had five tackles and one of LSU's five sacks, couldn't recall ever feeling as drained as he did after Monday's contest, collapsing to the turf alongside Minter after Chandler Catanzaro nailed the game-winning field goal.

"When I laid down out there, I was so tired and so hurt," Montgomery said. "I don't think I've ever gone so hard in my life. I did it for my defense. To zone out and play through that with so much emotion is something I've never experienced in my life."

Miles praised his defense for playing "their butt off," but couldn't hide his appreciation for the record setting performances of both Boyd and Hopkins.

Hopkins' 191 yards receiving set a new Clemson single season record for receiving yardage, while Boyd's 368 total yards of offense broke his own record for offensive production and became the first player in ACC history to have consecutive 4000-yard seasons.

"[Hopkins] is certainly a sure-handed big receiver," Miles said. "[Boyd] just kept getting up and made plays for Clemson and scrambled out and kept the ball alive and made the pass. I just want you to know he played extremely well in this game."

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