Things didn’t quite go according to plan for DJ Uiagalelei’s first season as the starting quarterback at Clemson.
Uiagalelei shined in making two spot starts in place of an unavailable Trevor Lawrence during his freshman season. The quarterback threw for 914 yards, threw five touchdowns to no interceptions, and completed 67% of his passes.
However, last season, that quarterback was nowhere to be found. Clemson’s offensive line was severely exposed in the season opening loss to Georgia as Uiagalelei took a beating in Charlotte. For whatever reason, he never seemed to fully recover.
As a freshman, Uiagalelei had a quiet swagger about him. Though, certainly not perfect, he was in command of the offense and he displayed and awareness in the pocket that was not seen in 2021.
So what can we expect from the quarterback now that he’s entering his third season with the program? No one can answer that at this point. However, there is one thing we do already know, and that is that Uiagalelei is putting in the work.
The Tigers began spring practice on Wednesday and according to multiple people in attendance, Uiagalelei has a different look about him, and it’s not just the weight he’s dropped since the end of last season.
All Clemson had this to say about Uiagalelei after the first practice of the spring.
“Dabo Swinney said before the start of practice that DJ Uiagalelei had shed some weight and he certainly has. The junior looks slimmer. However, that isn’t the only difference. Uiagalelei seems more confident and was in complete command of the offense. The ball looks different coming out of his hand and his accuracy was on point. He is still wearing the knee brace, though.”
We’ve all seen Uiagalelei do it. He excelled running the spread in high school and against some of the best competition in the country. We saw him do it as a freshman.
Last season, though, something was just off. With Uiagalelei, with the receivers, with the offensive line, with the entire offense. Even the play calling and game plans seemed a little off at times.
The reasoning is pretty much irrelevant at this point, the only thing that matters is whether or not it gets fixed. With Brandon Streeter now calling the plays and Kyle Richardson serving as his “number two” as the passing game coordinator, it’s a safe bet that the Clemson offense will more closely resemble what we saw prior to last season than what we saw in 2020. It’s also a safe bet that Uiagalelei will play a huge part in that.
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