ESPN's Adelson weighs in on Clemson's QB situation & whether Tigers are favorite to win the ACC

ESPN's Adelson weighs in on Clemson's QB situation & whether Tigers are favorite to win the ACC

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ESPN's Adelson weighs in on Clemson's QB situation & whether Tigers are favorite to win the ACC

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Filling in for Mark Packer and co-hosting Packer and Durham with Wes Durham on ACC Network this week, ESPN’s Andrea Adelson weighed in on whether Clemson should be the favorite to win the ACC this season given the uncertainty surrounding its quarterback situation.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney made it clear that rising junior D.J. Uiagalelei is still the starter coming out of the spring, but freshman Cade Klubnik is certainly pushing Uiagalelei after performing well in his first 15 practices as a Tiger.

“When I sit here and I start thinking about Clemson and whether they should be the favorite to win the ACC, it starts and it ends with D.J. Uiagalelei and what we’re going to see out of him this season,” Adelson said. “And when was the last time we sat here and questioned the quarterback play for Clemson going into a season? Maybe Kelly Bryant, and how long ago was that? So, that has been a position that has been so rock solid for Clemson that you could just automatically pencil it in.”

Uiagalelei completed just 55 percent of his passes with more interceptions (10) than touchdown passes (nine) a season ago, while leading a Clemson offense that ranked 82nd nationally in scoring (26.3 points per game). 

The Tigers should once again be able to lean on their defense, which ranked second nationally in points per game allowed (14.8) a year ago and figures to be among the top units in the country again in 2022.

But when looking at Clemson, Adelson wonders what the Tigers will get out of Uiagalelei this fall and if it’ll be enough for him to fend off Klubnik and keep the starting job.

“While I know their defense is probably going to be the best in the nation, if not one of the best in the nation, I keep coming back to what are we going to see out of D.J. U?” she said. “And, if we don’t see the improvement out of him that we expect to see, is there going to be a situation where they decide we can’t keep going here, we’ve got to go to the true freshman Cade Klubnik and see if we can change things up a little bit?”

By all accounts, Uiagalelei had a solid spring in which he improved on his accuracy and decision-making. Swinney went as far at one point to refer to one of Uiagalelei’s practice performances as one of the best he’s had since signing with Clemson as a five-star prospect two years ago.

But it didn’t always translate during the Tigers’ spring game when Uiagalelei went just 17 of 36 passing for 175 yards and threw the game’s only interception. Klubnik, the Tigers’ latest five-star signee at the position, was 15 of 23 and had the only passing touchdown of the game (one play after another touchdown pass of his was taken off the board).

With Uiagalelei being a big question mark entering the season, Adelson is struggling to just chalk up the Tigers as the favorite to claim the ACC crown.

“So that, to me, is what makes it so difficult and continues to make it difficult for me when I look at Clemson and I sit here in a month, we’re going to be picking our preseason favorites in the ACC — I don’t know who I’m going to pick right now because I don’t know what we’re going to get out D.J. U,” she said. “I didn’t see enough in that spring game to make me think he’s turned enough of a corner to pencil Clemson in automatically to win the ACC.”

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