Dabo Swinney: 'Ain't No Question' DJ Uiagalelei Is Clemson QB After Benching

Adam WellsOctober 22, 2022

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - OCTOBER 08: DJ Uiagalelei #5 of the Clemson Tigers looks on during the first half against the Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium on October 8, 2022 in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)
Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

Dabo Swinney attempted to shoot down any notion of a quarterback controversy after DJ Uiagalelei was benched in the third quarter of Clemson's 27-21 comeback victory over Syracuse on Saturday.

Speaking to ESPN after the game, Swinney said "ain't no question" Uiagalelei will remain the Tigers' starter.

True freshman Cade Klubnik replaced Uiagalelei with Clemson trailing 21-10. The Tigers scored 17 unanswered points to escape with a win and remain undefeated.

Uiagalelei entered the day as a potential down-ballot Heisman contender. He threw for 1,665 yards and completed 64 percent of his passes while running for 337 yards and accounting for 21 touchdowns with two interceptions in the first seven games.

The junior quarterback matched his interception total for the season in three quarters against Syracuse's defense. He completed 13 of 21 attempts for 138 yards with no touchdowns before he was benched.

Even though Clemson's offense came to life in the fourth quarter, Klubnik didn't set the world on fire under center. The 19-year-old went 2-of-4 for 19 yards through the air and had 13 rushing yards on eight attempts.

The rushing attack, led by Phil Mafah and Will Shipley, led the Tigers' comeback. They combined for 135 rushing yards on Klubnik's first three drives.

Clemson was also aided by penalties from Syracuse's defense. Elijah Fuentes-Cundiff was flagged for a personal foul after a 10-yard run from Klubnik on a 3rd-and-25 play that helped set up a touchdown to cut the deficit to 21-16.

Isaiah Johnson was called for pass interference on 3rd-and-11 with 2:58 remaining to give the Tigers a first down. They finished the drive with a field goal to extend their lead to 27-21 with 93 seconds left to play.

Based on how high Uiagalelei's ceiling is and how well he played heading into Saturday, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him remain the starter.

Swinney does have extra time to make decisions about his starting quarterback. Clemson has two weeks before it takes on Notre Dame in South Bend on Nov. 5.