CLEMSON, S.C. — The Cade Klubnik era has officially begun at Clemson.
The freshman quarterback will make his first career start when the seventh-ranked Tigers take on No. 6 Tennessee in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 30.
On Wednesday, Klubnik spoke to the media for the first time as Clemson’s starting quarterback, a title he earned from his MVP performance in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 3.
“Obviously, it just goes up another level,” Klubnik said. “I think I kind of started doing that for the UNC game. I think my preparation does not really change, but the amount of intensity that I have in practice and on the field and stuff will go up a little bit.”
Klubnik came in for DJ Uiagalelei on the third possession of the night against North Carolina in the ACC Championship Game. He subsequently led the Tigers right down the field to tie the game. From that point, he did not leave the field, as he completed 20-of-24 passes for 279 yards and a touchdown. He also ran the football for 30 yards and scored on a one-yard run.
Following the game, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney named Klubnik as the starter for the Orange Bowl. On Dec. 5, Uiagalelei threw his name into the transfer portal.
“This week has made me kind of realize I need to settle in a little bit,” Klubnik said. “It has been fun. It’s been awesome. Just really a dream come true. I am super excited about this team. I think we have a real shot going into this game. It is going to be fun.”
Now that he is the starting quarterback, Klubnik’s goal is simple – beat Tennessee.
“I’m just trying to be me,” he said. “I’m not trying to change anything. I’m just trying to be the guy that I was when I first got here on the first day. And I think if I just keep on doing that, we’ll do alright.”
As for the pressure of being the starting quarterback on a nationally ranked team, where expectations are high?
“Don’t waste a day,” he said. “I am here, so why waste a day. It has been really fun.”
The Orange Bowl will kickoff from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami at 8 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.