Uiagalelei (5) and Klubnik (2) throw during practice last week.
Uiagalelei (5) and Klubnik (2) throw during practice last week.

DJ Uiagalelei, Cade Klubnik show improvement in big Clemson spring scrimmage


by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Head coach Dabo Swinney saw both good and bad in Wednesday’s scrimmage, but the best thing might be the improving play of his quarterbacks.

The Tigers scrimmaged for two hours Wednesday inside the Poe Indoor facility.

“We had a lot of good on both sides and we had some bad," Swinney said. "Probably the biggest thing defensively was just cost ourselves a few times. Lined up offsides, jumped offsides a couple of times. A couple of discipline things.

"Then offensively, did a lot of good things. Just put the ball on the ground, got the ball knocked out a couple of times after the catch or after the handoff, that's probably the biggest negative."

The Tigers are missing several key contributors this spring, including defensive tackles Bryan Bresee and Tré Williams, wide receivers EJ Williams and Troy Stellato, and running backs Will Shipley and Kobe Pace, giving younger players the opportunity to impress the coaches.

"We got a bunch of guys out," Swinney said. "But we were able to put together enough to where we can practice so we can get the guys evaluated that we really need to get to work. So it was a good day. It was a good day and we'll watch the tape and we got a lot to teach from. The biggest thing is they've shown up every day with a good mentality and they've been very coachable."

Wednesday’s scrimmage was big for freshman quarterback Cade Klubnik.

Uiagalelei (5) and Klubnik (2) throw during practice last week.
Uiagalelei (5) and Klubnik (2) throw during practice last week."

“Just growing in his confidence. The game is slowing down a little bit,” Swinney said. “He made some big plays, some nice throws. He is a very accurate guy. He has a great presence to him.”

Last year’s starter, DJ Uiagalelei, completed 16-of-18 passes in last week’s situational scrimmage and followed that performance with another solid effort Wednesday.

“He had another really, really good day. I am really proud. He made some big plays,” Swinney said. “He managed the game. Took care of the ball. Good decisions. Very accurate. That is kind of what we have seen every day.”

The other two quarterbacks on scholarship – Hunter Helms and Billy Wiles – are also performing well.

“Billy Wiles is a good player. Hunter [Helms] came in and moved his group pretty well and made some nice throws, too. So, I am pleased with that room,” Swinney added.

Offensive coordinator Brandon Streeter said the scrimmage showed the Tigers can still make big plays down the field.

“I think it just shows that we can be explosive,” Streeter said. “I mean, we can get the ball down the field, and we can be explosive in the run game. We didn’t have as many explosives in the run game today. But I felt like throwing the ball down the field, guys were making some plays. We missed some plays obviously, but we got some guys that can do it.

The offense has put a premium on tempo this spring, getting back to the early days of the HUNH (hurry up no huddle) that Chad Morris brought to Clemson.

"Not just going fast, but being able to vary the tempo and understand when and where and how to do that through our cadence, how we get the plays in,” Swinney said. “We have changed a few things up. The tempo has been really good."

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