Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiaglelei entered the 2021 season as a favorite to win the Heisman trophy. But in leading an offensive unit that has crippled the Tigers’ typically-dominant program, those hopes have exited the picture.
With that being said, head coach Dabo Swinney is still “so proud” of Uiagalelei’s progression throughout the season.
In Clemson’s 30-24 win over the Louisville Cardinals, the sophomore quarterback logged his best game of the season. Improving his efficiency through the air, he threw for 220 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions on 18/30 passing — marking his first multiple-passing-touchdown game with no picks this season.
He also accounted for another score with a rushing touchdown.
“I’m so proud about D.J. (Uiagalelei),” Swinney told reporters in a postgame press conference, per 247 Sports. “He’s starting to kind of get on the back side of that storm that he’s been going through. I’m really, really proud of him. Unbelievable heart and leadership.”
This performance for Uiagalelei marked just the second time this season he’s thrown for more than 200 yards. The young QB has also thrown six interceptions on the year, including four in his team’s three losses.
Swinney acknowledged that this has been a rough season for Uiagalelei, but he wouldn’t drop the blame completely on his sophomore signal caller.
“He’s had a challenging year,” Swinney said. “But that’s just part of growing up. It’s part of being a young quarterback and learning how to handle disappointment and things like that. In the early part of the year, he certainly wasn’t playing well and we were not playing well around him. We’re getting better. We are more consistent around him. We’ve got the run game going. I think he’s just gotten through the storm he was going through and I’m proud of him. It’s a tough position, especially when you play at Clemson.
“I love his mental toughness and work ethic. He made some big-time plays and it’s what we expect form him. He’s just going to keep getting better. I’m just really proud of him because he could have kept going south and he’s trending in the right direction. Hopefully [there’s] more to come.”
Uiagalelei and the Tigers should enjoy an easy win over the 1-8 UConn Huskies at home this weekend.
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