The Clemson Tigers want to return to the College Football Playoff after rolling through the ACC again. If they are going to make it happen, it’ll be up to quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, Trevor Lawrence’s replacement.
He showcased his talent when filling in for Lawrence in 2020, most notably against Notre Dame despite the Tigers’ road loss. Despite his talent, he has one issue according to FOX Sports Radio host Colin Cowherd.
While Cowherd loves the potential, he wants Uiagalelei to fix one thing ahead of the season.
“He is insane,” Cowherd said Tuesday on The Herd. “His only issue is, everything’s a fastball, he’s got to learn tempo. But in terms of talent, size, arm, you’re like (wow).”
In limited action last season, Uiagalelei finished 78-of-117 passing (66.7% completion percentage) for 914 yards, five touchdowns, zero interceptions, 60 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns as a freshman.
Cowherd also predicted Clemson would be in the College Football Playoff once again, saying if he had to pick one automatic berth, it’d be the Tigers even before the season starts.
“Do you know Clemson faces one ranked team all year,” Cowherd said. “And that is in their opener against Georgia. So whether or not I think Clemson is the best team and I think you could certainly make an argument they are, they’re gonna end up in the playoff. So even if they lose to Georgia, they’re gonna roll over the rest of their (schedule). They’ll probably have one or two close games. …We talked about college football’s number one issue which is they don’t have a CEO, right? So the notion of a schedule maker like the NBA or baseball or the MLS or hockey or UFC, by the way, Dana White makes the fight so you get competitive fights.
“So Clemson plays one ranked team. That game’s about a three point swing either way. I’ll probably take Clemson because I love their quarterback and coach. … Clemson is going to be in the playoffs, I’m gonna do that today.”
Uiagalelei certainly has a lot of hype around him heading into 2021. Former USC star quarterback Matt Leinart said the Clemson quarterback would contend for the Heisman Trophy.
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“I absolutely believe he will,” Leinart said. “And it’s actually very similar, guys, to my situation in a way where Carson Palmer was the Heisman Trophy winner the year before, No. 1 draft pick. And I remember just mentally, ‘Oh crap, these are some monster shoes to fill playing quarterback at USC.’ I think the difference in this situation is we saw DJ be great in two games last year against Notre Dame and Boston College. We saw a small sample size but we saw him absolutely flourish. Nine total touchdowns, no takeaways. Obviously they lost to Notre Dame who ends up going to the Playoff but he had the come-from-behind win against Boston College. So this is a kid with the mental capacity and the pedigree to be able to handle, I think, this situation.”