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‘A fresh start’: Klubnik and new-look offense charging ahead in spring ball

Matt Mynes // Photo Editor

Clemson quarterback Cade Klubnik (2) and the Tigers had their first spring practice of 2023 on Monday, March 6, 2023.

This time last year, Cade Klubnik was just trying to keep his head afloat as the new man on campus. Now, the Clemson quarterback is the surefire leader of the Tigers’ offense.
With spring practices underway this week, Klubnik and the Tigers are getting back to work in preparation for the 2023 season. Unlike last year, the former five-star recruit has already gone through spring ball and understands what it takes to compete at the highest level.
With that experience and confidence under his belt, Klubnik hopes to elevate the entire team.
“Just continue to rally guys and push guys to places they’ve never pushed themselves to before,” Klubnik said. “I feel like now I have that capability to really encourage guys.”
But with a new year comes new faces, one of which is offensive coordinator Garrett Riley, who joined Clemson’s program after taking TCU to the national championship last season. Although Klubnik and Riley have only been together for three months, the pair seems to be meshing well together.
“I’m super excited about coach Riley,” Klubnik said on Monday. “Just super excited about what he’s going to bring and what he’s already brought. It’s just kind of a fresh start for this offense and a fresh start for this program.”
As for the schematics and particulars of Riley’s offense, it’s a new approach for the second-year signal-caller and his teammates. Still, there is a sense of familiarity.
“I love the offense,” Klubnik said. “It’s efficient, and it’s productive. It reminds me a lot of my high school offense with less plays — doing it less, but doing it better. I’m loving it, and I’m loving the style and the freedom in the offense.”
When asked about the effect running less plays has, Klubnik acknowledged it’s still very early, but he has liked the simplicity the offense has while still being able to confuse defenses with different formations and personnel.
“We went into a game last year with like 80 plays on the play-call sheet, and we’re going in with 30 now,” he said. “Being able to run less plays and getting really good at it. He’s (Riley) even said that it doesn’t matter if they know what the play is; we’re still going to be able to beat them at it.”
As for Klubnik’s head coach, Dabo Swinney has all the confidence in the world in his quarterback, who shined in the ACC Championship game against North Carolina when he completed 83% of his passes for 279 yards and one score.
Klubnik then struggled in his first career start in the Orange Bowl, but Swinney is looking forward to watching him develop even more after he “took full advantage” of his opportunities last season.
“The best players are really passionate, really committed and really good leaders, and Cade is an example of that,” Swinney said. “This guy is super competitive, incredibly committed and really believes in what we do here and how we do it. He’s a winner and a natural leader.”
One area of commitment that Swinney noted was Klubnik’s approach to his body. After losing around 5 pounds during last season, the Austin, Texas, native is back up to 198 and is hoping to get all the way up to 207 or 208 by the start of this upcoming season.
As far as his play on the field, Klubnik noted that his biggest emphasis this offseason is his pocket presence and not “escaping too early.”
With 14 practices and the April 15 spring game on the books, Klubnik will have his shot to display that improved pocket presence in the coming weeks. But his eyes are set on bigger aspirations than shining in a scrimmage.
“We’re not here to just have another year; we’re here to win it all.”

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Justin Robertson, Associate Editor
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