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Tigers in unfamiliar territory with quarterback controversy

Caleb Browder, Contributor

Sophomore quarterback DJ Uiagalelei warms up against Boston College on Oct. 2, 2021.

Quarterback controversies are almost always a bad sign for a football team, and it appears Clemson may have one on its hands. 

During Saturday’s loss to Pittsburgh, Clemson’s coaching staff pulled starting quarterback DJ Uiagalelei for two drives in favor of backup Taisun Phommachanh. Uiagalelei returned to the field for Clemson’s final offensive drive, but the use of the two quarterbacks has now raised questions as to who will start under center for the Tigers this Saturday against Florida State.  

On Sunday, Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney acknowledged that debate and said every position is under evaluation, including quarterback.  

Offensive Coordinator Tony Elliot added that Phommachanh brings a different element in running the ball. With that statement in mind, rotating him and Uiagalelei in and out for different situations is a likely scenario against Florida State.  

Meanwhile, even if Uiagalelei does start on Saturday, he is likely to be on a short leash with Phommachanh waiting on the sideline.   

Ultimately, Swinney will make the final decision, and on Tuesday, he continued to praise Uiagalelei’s diligence and potential. 

“He gets it. He’s a very self-aware kid; he’s very consciousness,” said Swinney. 

“I promise you, he cares a bunch and he’s got to get better, and we all got to get better to help him. He’s gonna have a lot more good days than he has bad days.” 

As for Uiagalelei, he said after Saturday’s loss that he believed he has done enough to keep his starting role. However, he is still aware of the pressure on him to perform.  

“No matter who, what week, no matter who you are, no spot is guaranteed. You gotta go out there and earn it each and every single week,” Uiagalelei said on Saturday. 

Uiagalelei and the Tigers’ offense is undoubtedly in a troublesome position. Despite Uiagalelei’s confidence in himself, calls for Phommachanh to take the field will continue to arise if the offense continues to struggle on Saturday. 

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