CLEMSON, S.C. — There is no quarterback controversy in Clemson.
Head coach Dabo Swinney was emphatic about it following the fifth-ranked Tigers’ 27-21 come-from-behind victory over No. 14 Syracuse Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
“DJ is our starter. DJ is our leader. Nothing has changed there. You can go ahead and type that up. He is our leader. He is our starter. He just had one of those days, just missed a few plays,” Swinney said after the game. “But he’s earned that. I’ll go to battle with that guy any day. He’s obviously got to clean it up a little bit on some of the things he did today, but he will. He will.”
Swinney pulled Uiagalelei with 4:53 to play in the game for freshman Cade Klubnik. On the previous possession, the junior threw his second interception of the afternoon, and it was his third turnover overall.
Uiagalelei had thrown just two interceptions all season prior to Saturday. He also missed on a couple of receivers that were open downfield.
“It was just one of those days,” Swinney said. “DJ has been awesome all year, but sometimes the ball does not go in the basket. The best of the best. Sometimes you go 0-for-5. Sometimes Steph Curry goes 3-for-22. Sometimes it just will not go in. Sometimes you have to give someone else an opportunity.”
Klubnik was that someone against Syracuse. Though he completed just 2-of-4 passes for 19 yards, Klubnik did not turn the football over, allowing running back Will Shipley and the defense to take over the game.
However, the freshman did make one big throw, as he threw a strike to Joseph Ngata in the back of the end zone for a successful two-point conversion, which gave the Tigers a 24-21 lead with 11:26 to play. The two-point conversion came after Shipley’s 50-yard touchdown run, which turned out to be the game winner.
“Kade came in and played amazing. He picked us up. He won that football game for us today,” Uiagalelei said.
And though Klubnik was the hero on Saturday, the Clemson coaches made sure everyone knew heading into the bye week that Uiagalelei was still the starter and there is no quarterback controversy at Clemson.
“DJ is no question our quarterback. There is no question about it,” offensive coordinator Brandon Streeter said. “Coach addressed the team about it. It is just like anything else. If a guy goes out there and is not having a great day… I am just glad we have guys that can come in there and we do not skip a beat. Or we find a way to spark the team.”
Clemson is off next week and will get back into action when it travels to Notre Dame to take on the Irish on Nov. 5 in South Bend, Indiana.