CHARLOTTE — A new era of Clemson football began Saturday night at Bank of America Stadium when Cade Klubnik took over in the third series for D.J. Uiagalelei. Swinney said he planned during the week to play Klubnik on that series, and Klubnik never released the reins once he got his opportunity.
Clemson’s head coach was asked following the game if this was a turning point for the program.
“Well one game doesn’t make a career,” Swinney said in his postgame press conference. “He’s got a long way to go and a lot of consistency ahead to kind of be there. But we recruited him with certainly high expectations, and he’s coming in here, he’s never lost a game as a starter, and he won three state championships in high school.”
“Now he’s coming here as a freshman and got MVP of his first championship game. So he’s a special talent, and we knew that. We also knew he needed to develop some, and he’s really put the work in. He’s worked on his body. He’s not quite 200 (pounds), but he’s right there. And he’s really grasped things from just an offensive standpoint.”
Klubnik went 20 of 24 passing for 279 yards and took home the MVP honors.
“But I think he’s got — he certainly has all the capability and all the tools to really be a great one,” Swinney said. “That’s what we felt like him coming into this program. Sometimes you can put a guy out there too early, but you also have to have — it’s got to be a situation where a guy earns it. It happens when it happens. Tonight, it kind of turned, and he took it and ran with it. Again, he’s got to keep it going. As soon as he has a bad game and we get the next guy in there, we’ll probably want that backup to come on in. He’s got a ways to go, but it’s a great start for him for sure. A huge confidence boost.”
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