Uiagalelei Get to work, make changes
There’s an old adage that the greatest improvement comes between the first and second game and a similar one that says it happens between the first and second year. Clemson Football hopes that happens between second and third years for quarterback DJ Uiagalelei.
Although there is nothing Uiagalelei can do about the 2021 season, there is plenty of room for improvement heading into 2022 and Uiagalelei is taking every opportunity to make the necessary improvements, working with a quarterback coach on his delivery and footwork.
There are those who think it’s a fruitless endeavor, Uiagalelei is what he showed in 2021 and the sooner the Tigers advance the better.
Many of them are the same people who were sure Uiagalelei was the next superstar quarterback after filling in two games for Trevor Lawrence in 2020.
Who is the real DJ Uiagalelei?
Due to the weirdness of the 2020 season, I don’t think we really know.
Playing at home against Boston College, or even on the road at Notre Dame, wasn’t the college football playoffs, with all the fans, media and hype, but it was an important game of the season on the road for a real freshman.
When I consider the season ahead, I keep coming back to the fact that we know Uiagalelei has talent. Is it Trevor Lawrence or Deshaun Watson? Probably not, but Trevor Lawrence wasn’t Deshaun Watson and vice versa.
I firmly believe that Uiagalelei can be better than the 2021 version, that its ceiling is not limited forever by what happened last year.
A key for me is that Uiagalelei wants to be better. He didn’t spend the winter holidays moping. He was working on getting better with a trainer in his spare time.
There seem to be results this spring, albeit in the scrums.
I will also continue to prothelyze that whatever happened in 2021 was not Uiagalelei’s fault. He is the quarterback and with that the blame will come.
That said, we know there were plenty of missed passes and I could think of two that could have made a difference in the losses. But there have also been bad interceptions, inexplicable decisions and baffling choices.
We know the offensive line has played the worst in years and been hurt a lot, and the same could be said for the wide receivers.
The thing is, there’s enough blame for everyone.
Uiagalelei absolutely has to avoid big game turnover, trying to be a hero-type game that probably costs games, or at least winning chances, against Georgia and Pittsburgh.
For me, the formula is quite simple: stay healthy. Avoid big turnovers. Put teammates in position to make plays.
Every part of the offense has to be better, not just the quarterback. This includes coaches.
That’s a lot to ask from what we last saw on the field in 2021 and even if it all works out, there’s no guarantee of a playoff spot or a championship.
DJ may be better and the team around him may not be the same as the teams in 2016 and 2018.
These teams had special players on both sides of the ball. Some All-Timers from Clemson’s perspective.
It remains to be seen if this team has the same level of talent, not only at quarterback, but in other positions as well.