Effort in 43-41 win at Northern Colorado included the eighth-most catches in FCS history with 20, a Big Sky record for a wide receiver
Even Eastern Washington University head football coach Beau Baldwin, known for staggering offensive numbers, couldn't believe his eyes.
With a another remarkable performance on another record-breaking day, sensational junior wide receiver Cooper Kupp was rewarded Monday (Oct. 26) with STATS FCS Offensive Player of the Week honors, as well as the same honor from NCAA.com.
In addition, he earned his second Big Sky Conference Player of the Week honor of the season and career on offense, a week after earning BSC Special Teams Player of the Week accolades. College Sports Madness also awarded him the same honor and Hero Sports selected him as its FCS Stud of the Week.
Kupp finished with school records of 20 catches and 275 yards in a 43-41 victory over Northern Colorado on Oct. 24, won on a 44-yard field goal on the last play by Jordan Dascalo to cap a game-winning 49-yard drive. Kupp's catch total was the eighth-most in FCS history and the most by a wide receiver in Big Sky history (Montana State running back David Pandt had 21 versus EWU in 1985). Kupp's yards were the 20th-most all-time in the FCS.
"In the game you know he is getting a lot of touches, but the next thing you know you see 20 for 275," said Baldwin, whose fifth-ranked Eagles play three of their next four at home, including Saturday (Oct. 31) versus Weber State. "It's a number you just never expect to see next to a receiver.
"To him it's not about how many catches, but it's what he can do on the next play," he continued. "He was frustrated about the one he lost in the sun and wasn't able to come up inside the 10-yard line on our last drive. That's how he rolls and how he operates, but it's fun to be around."
Kupp, a 2012 graduate of Davis High School in Yakima, Wash., had seven catches for 130 yards and a touchdown in the decisive fourth quarter alone. Six of those were for first downs and another 17-yard gain that would have been a first down if not for a penalty downfield on the play. In all, 15 of his catches resulted in first downs or touchdowns, including seven on third or fourth down.
His performance brought his career totals to 281 receptions, 4,338 yards and 52 touchdowns -- in just 35 games.
"I just haven't seen anything like this -- to see him perform like that for three years game-in and game-out," Baldwin admitted. "You become so numb to it that you don't realize how special it is. He means so much in how he leads, how he handles things and treats teammates. More than just the receiver he is, he's just incredible in how he carries himself and the person and teammate he is. That's Cooper Kupp in a nutshell. He has all the tools as not just a football player, but as a human. We're just lucky and enjoying every day we get to spend with him. It's something special."
Kupp finds himself within striking distance of several FCS records, including the touchdown record. He now has 52 TD receptions in his career, just six behind the record of 58.
His three scores on Saturday helped him pass NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, who had 50 in 41 games for Mississippi State from 1981-84. Kupp's career catches total of 281 trails Rice by just 20 (301, eighth in FCS history), and his receiving yards total of 4,338 are 355 behind (4,693, second in FCS history)
"It's such an honor to be associated with such a huge name as Jerry Rice," said Kupp, who won the Jerry Rice Award in 2013 as the top freshman in FCS. "He's somebody I've looked up to in more than just the way he played on the football field – he's a class act. To be able to do that is really a great honor."
A pair of second quarter grabs at UNC broke the previous league receptions record of 268 held by Kasey Dunn of Idaho (1988-91). A 19-yard reception during a last-minute touchdown drive in the second quarter surpassed the previous league record of 4,140 yards held by EWU's Eric Kimble (2002-05).
With his 20 catches, Kupp broke the previous record of 17 set by Aaron Boyce versus Montana on Oct. 6, 2007. His 275 yards was the fourth time he has had at least 200, and broke the previous school record of 264 set by Jason Anderson versus Montana on Sept. 17, 1994.
One of the FCS records Kupp is now chasing is the single season record for receiving yards, set by former Eagle Brandon Kaufman with 1,850 in 2013. Kaufman, who is from Colorado, witnessed Kupp's performance at UNC and shared in the post-game celebration.
"There have been some great players to come through the Big Sky," Kupp said. "I got to meet Eric Kimble a few months ago, and he's a great guy and a great worker. He and others players paved the way for this and our receiver corp. There is great pride in this program and our receiver corp. The past players set that tradition, and it's carried on by others like Brandon Kaufman right here. He's passed that on and now we want to continue it."
Kupp continues to lead FCS in receiving touchdowns (15), receiving yards (1,216), receiving yards per game (173.7), receptions (84) and receptions per game (14.5), and is second in scoring (13.7 per game). His numbers are so extreme he is 21 catches, 344 yards and five TDs ahead of the next-highest marks in FCS.