It was a weekend for running backs in the ACC. Here are your top five performers from Week 1 (sorry, they can’t all be from Clemson):
Clemson’s offense: No Sammy, no problem. Andre Ellington ran for 231 yards and DeAndre Hopkins set a school record with 13 receptions. It wasn’t flawless: there were too many drops and too many sacks, but Hopkins made up for a few drops with his impressive touchdown catch in the fourth quarter, and quarterback Tajh Boyd’s newfound mobility helped keep the chains moving. Clemson had 528 total yards of offense in the 26-19 win over Auburn.
Duke Johnson, RB, Miami: The campaign for rookie of the year has begun. Johnson wowed most everyone who watched his debut with 135 yards and two touchdowns in a 41-32 win at Boston College. There was plenty of hype surrounding Johnson, but until Saturday, it was all potential and not production. That changed quickly, as he averaged 19.3 yards on seven carries.
Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina: Granted, it was against Elon, but what Bernard did would have been impressive in the backyard. He had a career-high three first-half touchdowns, (one each rushing, receiving and on a punt return) and finished with 203 all-purpose yards. Bernard finished with 93 yards rushing on just nine carries and two receptions for 10 yards. He didn’t play in the second half of the Heels' 62-0 win over Elon and still finished with 100 total punt return yards. Not bad for his first career game as a return man.
Duke: That’s right, the entire team gets a sticker for winning its opener, 46-26. After losing to Richmond in the season opener twice in the previous three years, it’s a significant accomplishment for the Blue Devils, especially against a legitimate opponent in FIU. If Duke is going to get to a bowl game, it needs to go 3-1 in its nonconference schedule, the only margin for error being against Stanford. This was a critical win for Duke’s chances at getting to the postseason, and it will do wonders for the team’s confidence moving forward.
FSU defensive end Bjoern Werner. The Noles completely dominated Murray State, winning 69-3, but Werner stepped up big with Brandon Jenkins out with a foot injury for the majority of the game. He racked up four sacks for a loss of 28 yards and five tackles for a loss of 30 yards, and forced a fumble on the Murray State 2-yard line that set up a touchdown. It was a career day for him.