The Clemson Tigers opened their season on Monday night against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets with a win by a score of 41-10. The Tigers got off to a rough and sluggish start on offense which is currently lead by Junior quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, who is now in his second year as the starting quarterback for Clemson. Uiagalelei struggled during the Tigers’ first four possessions. These resulted in a three-and-out, a fumble by the Clemson quarterback, followed by two more three-and-outs. It was a familiar sight for Clemson fans as it appeared that the Tigers offense was right back to where they had left off last season. The Tigers were finally able to make the first score of the game in the second quarter when running back Will Shipley scored a one yard touchdown. Uiagalelei was then able to lead the Tigers down the field for another score on their next possession on an eight play, 67 yard drive, capped off by a six yard completion to wide receiver Beaux Collins for the touchdown.
Uiagalelei Finally Looks the Part
It was in the second half where Uiagalelei was finally able to get in a groove and show signs of improvement. He put together perhaps his two best drives as a Clemson Tiger, which resulted in a field goal and a touchdown respectively. While it may seem crazy to say, Uiagalelei was starting to look like a quarterback with some promise. He was making his reads, delivering the ball where he needed to, and most importantly making good decisions while in the pocket. It was certainly a sight for sore eyes for Clemson fans as it finally felt like the highly touted quarterback out of California was showing some potential. As someone who is currently living in Clemson and was able to get a pulse of what the fan base was thinking during Monday nights game, DJ certainly surprised most Clemson fans. Many of whom had become restless regarding the play of Uiagalelei and were ready for a change at the position. DJ finished the game completing 19 of his 32 passes for 209 yards and one touchdown. With his performance in the second half, DJ appears to have maybe changed the minds of some Clemson fans for the moment.
Kulbnik Makes the Most of His Opportunity
It was in the fourth quarter where the most intriguing plays happened for Tiger fans. With 5:02 left in the fourth quarter and the Tigers being up 34-10 with the ball, head coach Dabo Swinney elected to put in true freshman quarterback Cade Klubnik into the game. This is what every Clemson fan was looking forward to seeing this game. Many had expected the quarterback out of Austin, Texas to get into this game at some point, and he did not disappoint. Klubnik lead an impressive 10 play drive of 66 yards down the field that resulted in touchdown pass of three yards to wide receiver Will Taylor. Klubnik completed four of his six passes for 50 yards and looked very much in command while doing so. He looked confident and poised throughout the entire drive as if he had been doing this for Clemson for years. Klubnik’s performance was very encouraging for Clemson fans to see for a multitude of reasons. Uiagalelei’s struggles have been known for quite some time now, and seeing that Clemson finally appears to have a solid backup solution if things go south for DJ was something that needed to be known.
Managing the Quarterback Situation Going Forward
There is certainly reason for Clemson fans to be optimistic about the quarterback play after the Tigers’ season opener. It is still just one game, however. Albeit against Georgia Tech, Clemson was expected to take care of business in their season opener, which they did. There may not be a whole lot to look into for a week 1 game, but Clemson fans know what they are seeing and expect excellence from their football team. If they are able to see and understand the quarterback situation for the offense, then so are Dabo Swinney and the coaching staff. They are well aware that a longterm decision will have to be made at some point this year going forward with their quarterbacks. Clemson is certainly fortunate they have some softer opponents lined up in Furman and Louisiana Tech, as these games will be opportunities for their quarterbacks to showcase their abilities for the starting job.
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