D.J. Uiagalelei has high expectations this season, stepping in for Trevor Lawrence to lead one of college football’s best programs. He drew a brutal first opponent as full-time starter, facing No. 5 Georgia and one of the nation’s best defenses on Saturday.
Uiagalelei was 19-for-37 for 178 yards with a backbreaking pick six on Saturday. That interception wound up being the only touchdown of the game in a 10-3 Bulldogs win. Georgia was all over the sophomore, sacking him seven times on the day.
In the days after the game, Uiagalelei has taken responsibility for Clemson‘s inability to move the ball against the SEC power. While the Tigers offensive line was a clear issue, he says it was his own play that was the “main thing” in the loss.
“I think the main thing was that I didn’t play very well. That’s the main thing I looked at,” he told reporters at a Monday press conference, via 247. “There was times in the pocket where I should have scrambled out, should have made a play. Sometimes I was drifting in the pocket where it caused me to get sacked where it wasn’t the offensive line’s fault — it was my fault. Where I drifted out of the pocket and it caused the d-end to have a wide-open lane on me where the tackle was protecting me to be stable in the pocket.”
“There was a bunch of stuff. Missed receivers, wide-open receivers on some routes, overthrew them,” he continued. “There was a lot of stuff that stood out from film. It was a challenge, but I’m always up for a challenge. I’m just looking to get back at it in Week 2.”
This wasn’t Uiagalelei’s first significant game action. He took over for Trevor Lawrence at midseason in 2020, when the No. 1 pick-to-be went out with COVID-19.
He’d start games against Boston College and Notre Dame, and make a number of other appearances during his freshman year. He completed 66.7-percent of his throws for 914 yards and five touchdowns, adding four scores on the ground in those games.
This year’s Clemson team loses a number of other key contributors, and clearly has work to do up front. D.J. Uiagalelei shouldn’t be a main concern long term, though. Georgia may not have a match on the defensive side of the ball this season.