D.J. Uiagaleleli went through one final game at less than 100%. Now it’s time for Clemson’s quarterback to get back to full strength, whatever that may entail
“Not sure right now,” Uiagalelei said following the Tigers’ Cheez-It Bowl win over Iowa State on Wednesday. “Probably have to see it after the game.”
Wearing a bulky brace on his right knee for the fourth straight game, Uiagalelei again did what he could to help Clemson pull out a win. The game plan was once again tailored more heavily toward the run (40 rushes against 33 passes), but Uiagalelei went 21 of 33 passing for 187 yards with an interception against the Cyclones. He also ran it six times for 12 net yards with his longest run of the night covering 7 yards.
When Uiagalelei sustained the non-contact injury that forced him to miss a series in the first half of Clemson’s win at Louisville on Nov. 6, Swinney described it as a sprain in Uiagalelei’s knee. Whether there’s anything more to the injury isn’t clear, though the fact Uiagalelei returned to finish that game and played in every game after that — running on it at times to help move the offense, including the go-ahead touchdown run against the Cardinals in a 30-24 victory — would suggest there’s nothing more serious going on.
Uiagalelei didn’t mention needing any kind of surgery after Wednesday’s game.
“For the most part, I think just (physical therapy),” Uiagalelei said. “Just continue to keep healthy and just rehab. I feel like that’s the main thing right now.”
Uiagalelei also played with a splint on the index finger of his throwing hand for the last few games. As the successor to the first overall pick in last year’s NFL Draft, Trevor Lawrence, Uiagalelei dealt with his share of criticism leading an offense that experienced a significant dropoff from the big-play unit that Clemson has grown accustomed to in recent years.
Uiagalelei had the second-lowest completion rate among starting ACC quarterbacks and threw as many interceptions as touchdowns (9). Yet the sophomore signal caller pushed through the struggles and the injuries to help lead Clemson to a six-game winning streak that gave the Tigers yet another 10-win season.
“He’s been in a skillet, a frying pan, all season long,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “I’ve been right there with him, and he hasn’t flinched. He’s a winner. Just appreciate his leadership.”
Christmas is right around the corner. Once again Clemson Variety & Frame is ready to make it a special holiday for your favorite Tiger.
Order today to make sure your gift arrives in time for Christmas.