CHARLOTTE – D.J. Uiagalelei was the first to admit he played poorly on Saturday night.
Clemson struggled offensively in a 10-3 loss to Georgia in the Duke’s Mayo Classic. The Bulldogs held the Tigers to 180 yards of total offense and four yards rushing in the contest. They overwhelmed the Tigers at the point of attack with seven sacks of Uiagalelei, tied for the most allowed by a Clemson team.
The sophomore quarterback struggled to get into a flow and his lone interception with 2:58 to play in the contest was returned for a 74-yard touchdown which proved the difference in the game.
“It’s on me, I don’t think I played very good. I didn’t play good at all and I didn’t played good enough to win the ball game today,” Uiagalelei said. “I started playing well later on but I have to start off playing good from the beginning, it’s clear.”
Uiagalelei finished the game 19-of-37 for 178 yards and one interception and could not find a rhythm.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney acknowledged the offense left a lot to be desired. But he has no doubt that Uiagalelei will respond to his poor performance against the Bulldogs.
“He’s a great player, and I promise you, that guy right there will respond,” Swinney said. “He’s disappointed in how we played in the first couple of quarters, but I tell you in the last quarter and a half there, man he was awesome.”
“He did some good really good things, but he took a couple of sacks that you can’t take. So there are a lot of things he’ll see on tape that he’ll improve from.”
Offensive coordinator Tony Elliott felt the blame for the lackluster performance extended to everyone. He also pointed out the inconsistency on third down, Clemson finished the day 6-of-15 on third down attempts.
“It wasn’t just on D.J., there were a couple of situations on some critical third downs where we weren’t on the same page from a quarterback-receiver standpoint,” Elliott said. “And that can cause a guy to start pressing.”
Elliott reiterated that Uiagalelei’s preparation and commitment to the game will lead the young quarterback to bounce back.
“So obviously with his preparation I know he is locked in, I know he wanted to be successful,” Elliott said. “He might not have had the early start but I’m proud of the way he responded down the stretch.”