PITTSBURGH – D.J. Uiagalelei and the Clemson offense struggled mightily in a 27-17 loss to Pittsburgh at Heinz Field on Saturday afternoon.
The Tigers’ quarterback finished the game 12-of-25 passing for 128 yards with a pair of interceptions. The interceptions included a pick six on a shuttle pass that was returned 50 yards for a score by SirVocea Dennis during Clemson’s opening drive of the third quarter that gave Pitt a 21-7 lead with 11:30 to play in the third quarter.
After the pick six, Uiagalelei sat out the rest of the third quarter and backup quarterback Taisun Phommachanh entered the game for the next two series.
After the game, Uiagalelei did not voice frustration or disappointment with the decision to put Phommachanh in the game after the interception but rather expressed support for his teammate.
“I don’t know if it helped me settle down, but I was excited to see Taisun Phommachanh play,” Uiagalelei said. “Taisun came in there, played great, made good reads, ran the ball well and I was just excited to see my brother get in there and play.”
Phommachanh put the Tigers in position to kick a field goal thanks to a 14-yard pass to Justyn Ross on third-and-six and a 17 yard run on the following play. B.T. Potter delivered with a 42 yard field goal to cut the deficit to 21-10 with 6:56 left in the third quarter.
Offensive coordinator Tony Elliot said they decided to put Phommachanh in the game to see if he could provide a spark.
Both Elliott and head coach Dabo Swinney reiterated that every position is open for competition each week.
That did not seem to phase Uiagalelei either.
“You have to go out there and earn it every single week and that’s been my mindset since I was little,” Uiagalelei said. “If it wasn’t me next week I will be right here and happy to see Taisun play.”
“I’m a team player, there’s no I in team, so it doesn’t matter who is out there whether it’s me or Taisun I want to see us win because I’m a team player,” he continued.
Clemson returns to action on Saturday as it hosts Florida State at Memorial Stadium at 3:30 p.m.