Appearing on the ACC Network, Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott made it clear that Uiagalelei will have to show that he can make their system work. He said that he doesn't expect Uiagalelei to be Travis Etienne from a playmaking standpoint. But he needs to be able to keep defenses honest with his legs.
“I think you coach DJ the same way,” Elliott said, via 247Sports. “He's got to be able to make us right within our system. That's where a quarterback’s athleticism and legs come into play within what we do offensively. He has to be able to make us right. He doesn't have to be Travis Etienne I see on the screen right there and have the huge explosive plays in the run game but he has to be able to keep us honest. That's what Deshaun (Watson), Kelly (Bryant) and Trevor have done in the past, is be able to keep us honest.”
Just about every quarterback the Tigers have had for the last decade has been able to get into the end zone consistently with their legs. Even Trevor Lawrence managed to rack up nearly 1,000 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground.
D.J. Uiagalelei made two starts as a true freshman in 2020. He went 1-1 with a win over Boston College and loss to Notre Dame.
But he was sharp in his limited action, not throwing a single interception in 117 throws all season. He was accurate too, completing over 66-percent of his passes.
That said, expectations will be much, much higher in 2021. And with the QB pipeline that the Tigers have built, Elliott and head coach Dabo Swinney won't hesitate to bench Uiagalelei if he isn't ready to play at a high level immediately.
How good will D.J. Uiagalelei be in his first year as a starter?