D.J. Uiagalelei didn’t start the 2021 season how he wanted or had hoped to.
Clemson’s star quarterback completed 19-of-37 passes for 178 yards and had a QBR of 36.7 in Saturday’s 10-3 loss to Georgia in Charlotte. The sophomore struggled to get into a rhythm while being sacked seven times, and his lone interception with 2:58 to play in the first half was returned for a 74-yard touchdown which proved to be the difference in the game.
Uiagalelei was the first to admit he played poorly on Saturday night, and Clemson head coach Swinney reiterated during his Zoom conference call with the media Sunday evening he has no doubt Uiagalelei will bounce back from his showing against the Bulldogs.
“You best believe D.J. will get better,” Swinney said. “I promise you, there’s nobody that cares more than that guy, and he knows what he’s got to do. He’s certainly disappointed in how he played, and it’s not reflective of his preparation. You get in games like that early in the season, you hadn’t played in a while, you make a few mistakes. There are going to be a lot of people that look like that against Georgia. That’s a really, really good defense.”
Swinney chalked up Uiagalelei’s subpar performance to a combination of inaccurate throws, missed reads and miscommunication with his receivers.
“It was a combination of all those things, and again, not what we’ve seen in practice,” Swinney said. “We had some missed throws and we had some missed reads and some miscommunication. So, it was a combination of all those things, not just one thing.”
Uiagalelei wasn’t able to get much going with his arm or his legs, though Swinney pointed out he did have a few nice runs, adding that the Tigers should have given him more chances to make plays in the run game.
“We had a couple of nice runs,” Swinney said. “We had a nice draw, had two nice counters with him. But he just needs to be effective, but we didn’t give him enough opportunity, and that’s something else that we could’ve done a better job of. But just need him to be effective, that’s it, and take what’s there. Some of those things we had called where he’s got the option to run it or throw it, and he chose to throw it a couple times and I don’t disagree with his decision. But just need him to be effective.
“But as far as what we need from D.J., we just need good pocket presence and executing the system, good game awareness and make plays with his legs when we need him to.”
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