Clemson may have ended the regular season on a sour note, but coach Dabo Swinney wouldn’t pin the blame on starting quarterback DJ Uiagalelei.
When the Tigers take the field next Saturday for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, Uiagalelei will remain their No. 1 quarterback, Swinney said on an ACC teleconference Sunday.
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No. 8 Clemson lost to rival South Carolina 31-30 in the regular-season finale Saturday. Uiagalelei completed just 8 of 29 passes for 99 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
“DJ had some plays that he’d like to have back, but he was a long way away from being the reason we lost the game, that’s for sure,” Swinney said. “He doesn’t return kicks and play safety and catch the ball. He can only control his part, but all of those things affect your psyche and the rhythm of the game.”
It isn’t the first time this season Swinney tamped down ideas of a quarterback controversy, as Clemson has freshman Cade Klubnik waiting in the wings behind Uiagalelei. Klubnik subbed in for a benched Uiagalelei against then-No. 14 Syracuse in October and helped the Tigers rally from down 11 for a 27-21 win.
But Swinney never considered subbing Klubnik in during the South Carolina game.
“We had some critical drops and some missed plays, and those things add up,” Swinney said. “The next thing you know, the turnovers with empty possessions, you’re out of rhythm and then you have some drops and a few missed plays along the way, and it’s a recipe for getting beat.”
Uiagalelei has completed 62.2 percent of his passes this season for 2,511 yards, 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has a 59.9 career completion percentage for 5,671 yards, 36 TDs and 17 picks across three seasons.
–Field Level Media
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