Clemson continues to be ready on D.J. Uiagalelei to make the leap

DJ Uiagalelei

DJ Uiagalelei
Picture: Getty Photographs

There’s usually a greater sense of Clemson by this level within the season. Dabo Swinney isn’t afraid of a tricky non-conference recreation, and it simply so occurs that the Tigers’ large non-ACC recreation at Notre Dame takes place in early November this yr. Clearly, that may’ve been a greater resume builder earlier than the Irish dropped out of the highest 25, however that’s irrelevant.

The purpose is the Tigers haven’t performed anybody this season, with lopsided wins over Georgia Tech, Furman, and Louisiana Tech. If the Yellow Jackets weren’t in such disrepair, we may glean extra data from the one recreation towards an influence 5 opponent. That’s not the case because the Jackets have been outscored within the Clemson and Ole Miss video games by a complete of 83-10.

So it’s honest to say Clemson hasn’t performed anybody, and you could possibly even add that these wins, as imbalanced as the ultimate rating appeared, weren’t significantly convincing given the opponent and the expectation of Clemson soccer. This week the Tigers go to defending ACC champion, No. 21 Wake Forest (I do know, it was as bizarre for me to kind because it was so that you can learn), and we’ll really get to see if Swinney’s group is deserving of its prime 5 rating.

It’s not a problem of expertise as a lot as it’s who’s getting the expertise the ball. After a difficult first yr below heart in 2021 per any college’s requirements, beginning quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei entered this season because the starter with the caveat that he could also be pushed by Cade Klubnik, a five-star freshman who was the No. 1 QB in his class and went undefeated as a starter in essentially the most aggressive division of Texas highschool soccer.

Whether or not it’s only a sluggish begin, or some conspiracy to maintain the followers from calling for Klubnik, the Tigers have solely earned the tremendous frosh 5 sequence. After one possession in every of the Georgia Tech and Furman contests, it seemed like Klubnik would have rubbish time to himself with Clemson up 34-6 late third quarter towards Louisiana Tech.

After a 3 and out, a failed four-play drive, and two Bulldog scores, Uiagalelei needed to be reinserted as a result of the lead was reduce to 34-20, and Swinney received nervous. In the event you’re saying, “Nicely, didn’t D.J. get them the lead within the first place?” It was 13-6 on the break, and Tech opened up the second half by throwing picks on its first two drives that led to Tiger touchdowns, considered one of which got here on a single Will Shipley 32-yard run.

The longest play from scrimmage this yr for the Tigers is a 41-yard go. That Shipley rating is the longest run. For comparability’s sake, the Demon Deacons have 4 guys with performs that size or longer, together with a 68-yard completion, and eight guys with positive aspects of 20 or extra in comparison with Clemson’s six. Granted Wake has been enjoying subpar opponents as properly, and wanted a cease on a two-point conversion to beat Liberty final week, however it will possibly nonetheless transfer the ball.

The Demon Deacons performed properly sufficient to get their backup some work. Mitch Griffis has 14 extra makes an attempt and 222 extra yards than Klubnik. Clemson is giving up extra yards per recreation passing (244.7) than they’re throwing for (243). Wake really enters this matchup with the upper common offensive output (434 yards per recreation to 425).

Demon Deacon coach Dave Clawson and quarterback Sam Hartman stole the ACC final season, they’re already in sync, and can put up sufficient factors to drive Clemson to throw. Longtime Tiger defensive coordinator Brent Venables is now teaching Oklahoma. Furman accomplished passes and sustained drives with well-designed screenplays, and ended up profitable the time of possession battle by 10 minutes of their go to to Memorial Stadium.

A season in the past, the Tigers beat the Deacs, 48-27, in Demise Valley amid a six-game win streak to complete the season 10-3 after beginning it 4-3. Which means Uiagalelei has the group driving a nine-game win streak general. In these wins, he’s 156 for 263 for 1,806 yards, 10 TD passes, and 6 picks. That’s 200 yards a recreation, with a 59 p.c completion fee. Solely as soon as in that span did he run for greater than 36 yards — he had 62 on the bottom towards La. Tech — and in no video games did he break 300 yards within the air. And these are wins we’re speaking about.

The Tigers didn’t gentle up the early season cupcakes in a approach that convinces you Uiagalelei has turned the nook, they usually didn’t get plan B substantial reps. Going 3-0 is the objective for many packages — it wasn’t for Clemson.

This can be a larger recreation than you’d assume to begin Saturday, and I understand how a lot that additional hour of tailgating helps on the East Coast. Winston-Salem ought to have good climate and a greater crowd. Who is aware of about their protection, however who cares.

And now a phrase on Tennessee-Florida

The final time Faculty Gameday got here to Knoxville was 2016, and it additionally was the final time these two rivals met as ranked opponents. The14th-ranked Vols ended up beating the No. 19 Gators, 38-28, on their approach to a 9-4 file, ending twenty second within the AP Ballot. That additionally was the final time UT completed the season within the prime 25.

The meat of the SEC schedule is arising after Saturday, with LSU, No. 8 Kentucky, No. 2 Alabama, and No. 1 Georgia slated for 4 of the following 5 weeks. Good luck to move coach Josh Heupel and crew.

Hendon Hooker is a dynamic QB in that offense, and in the event that they play the best way they’ve proven they’ll, this must be a Vols victory. It looks as if a decade in the past that Gator QB Anthony Richardson was main Florida over No. 7 Utah within the season-opener, however it was nonetheless solely September. He has but to throw for a rating this season and has 4 interceptions over the previous two video games.

The present Tennessee fan would see that and say, “Yup, he’s due, and we’re fucked.” Settle down. Keep in mind your respiratory methods. You bought this. ESPN is right here. Brad Nessler, Gary Danielson, and CBS are right here. It’s your big day. What may go mistaken? It’s solely Florida. 

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