Does Clemson really have a quarterback issue?
There’s no denying that DJ Uiagalelei has been less than stellar his first 2 outings. His completion percentage is at just over 54 percent in his first 2 games this year. Not great. His yards per attempt is down two yards from last year. Last year he had 5 TDs to 0 INT. This year 1 TD to 2 INT.
There is a clear issue with him delivering the ball accurately with a touch pass. Everything looks forced and he just doesn’t look as comfortable as last year. He has made some bad decisions with just seemingly throwing the ball up with a prayer that a Tiger player will catch it. It is said that the Lord works in mysterious ways, but I’m not convinced that was the intention.
Now that we’ve stated the painfully obvious, there is no reason at all to panic. Conversely, there are several reasons not to.
First off; consider who we are comparing Uiagalelei to. Trevor Lawrence and Deshaun Watson were anything but your average quarterbacks. These guys were only the two greatest Tiger quarterbacks of all time. And outside a brief stint of Kelly Bryant, back to back Clemson quarterbacks.
Comparing any new QB to these guys is just crazy. Watson and Lawrence are the exceptions; not the rule. Generally D1 quarterbacks are nowhere near these guys in terms of preparedness to play at this level. It would be the equivalent of New England Patriots fans expecting Mac Jones to pick up right where Tom Brady left off.
Secondly, remember last year when Uiagalelei eviscerated Notre Dame’s defense. He only threw for 439 passing yards, the most ever by a Clemson freshman, while accounting for three touchdowns. More yards than even Watson or Lawrence as a freshman. Yep, you read that right. Uiagalelei didn’t have a “fluke” of a game and put up stats like that. The guy has talent. And a lot of it. There’s a reason he was the number one quarterback recruit in his class.
Ever heard of the sophomore slump? Yep, it’s a real thing. Just a couple of years ago we were discussing the same thing with Lawrence. Same thing in 2016 when Watson started off slowly.
Teams get film of a quarterback and break it down. They discover tendencies, and force the QBs into doing things they aren’t as comfortable with. QB likes to roll right? Stack the line and make him roll left. QB locks onto first receiver? Double cover that receiver and make him look elsewhere. These are just a couple small examples of game planning that coaches are paid to do.
Uiagalelei has the talent guys and gals. But he is still learning. The game will start to get slower for him, and he will get more comfortable. It’s only a matter of time.
Now how much time is anyone’s guess. The coaching staff will have a better idea of that than we do. However, most likely, by mid season, Uiagalelei will be making that turn, and all this talk of QB production will be history.
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