CLEMSON, S.C. — DJ Uiagalelei quickly turned the page from his performance against Syracuse and is now focused on Notre Dame, who No. 5 Clemson plays Saturday night in South Bend, Ind.
“You go back and watch the game and learn from it and then you move on,” Uiagalelei said. “You worry about the present time. You worry about today and all you can do today and continue to put your best foot forward each and every day.”
The Clemson quarterback is coming off his worst performance of the season in the Tigers’ come-from-behind win over Syracuse on Oct. 22. He threw two interceptions and lost a fumble inside the Syracuse 5-yard line, which the Orange returned 90 yards for a touchdown.
The three turnovers were the most for him in one game during his Clemson career, and led to Swinney pulling him for freshman Cade Klubnik, who led the Tigers from 11 points down to win the game in the fourth quarter.
“I feel like I figured out what I did wrong and be able to improve on that and make sure that does not happen again,” Uiagalelei said. “I feel like I have definitely moved on from that and I am excited about getting ready to play Notre Dame.”
While the Syracuse game might be Uiagalelei’s worst performance during his college career, his best was the last time the Tigers visited Notre Dame. In his second start, Uiagalelei completed 29-of-44 passes for 439 yards and two touchdowns against the Irish. He also ran for a score.
His 439 passing yards are still the most yards allowed by a Notre Dame defense at Notre Dame Stadium. He also broke Clemson’s freshman record for most passing yards in a game.
And though he is proud of those accomplishments, there is one thing Uiagalelei did not accomplish in that 2020 game in South Bend.
“Yeah, I played great, but the biggest thing for me was the loss,” he said. “That was the biggest thing. We had a chance to win the game and we took a loss against Notre Dame. Hopefully, this time, the outcome is better. We just have to be able to put our best foot forward each and every day.”
The Tigers (8-0) were ranked No. 1 in the country when the fourth-ranked Irish knocked them off in double-overtime, 47-40. Uiagalelei was starting because Trevor Lawrence was not fully back after missing the Boston College game, the previous week, due to a positive test result for COVID-19.
Clemson looks for a better result when it it kicks off against the Irish at 7:30 Saturday night.