The “it” factor.
Real freshman quarterback Cade Klubnik only took 10 snaps Clemson Football win Monday nightbut his hard-fought 66-yard play has sent the internet into a frenzy and raised further questions about where he stands against starter DJ Uiagalelei as the Tigers draw to the College Football Playoff.
Klubnik, a former five-star freshman from Austin, Texas, made his collegiate debut with the No. 4 Tigers lead Georgia Tech 34-10 in fourth quarter and looked at home at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Klubnik rolled to his right and hit wide receiver Will Taylor for a third 20-yard conversion on his first career completion. His nine-yard bubble screen to receiver Drew Swinney brought Clemson to the Georgia Tech 33-yard line.
Then the Recruit n°6 of the class of 2022 delivered an 18-yard laser down the middle to Swinney on a screen-and-go – his best throw of the night – before rolling a right and hitting Taylor for a three-yard touchdown on an out route.
This game put Clemson up 41-10 and looked suspiciously like Deshaun Watson’s game-winning shot against Hunter Renfrow against Alabama in the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship game.
“By putting Cade, we weren’t trying to increase the score”, said coach Dabo Swinney. “We just needed him to play. I needed him to come out and put the ball back. I needed him to play… he did a wonderful job and challenged us.
Klubnik went 4-6 for 50 yards on the rush and added a four-yard run on his only rush of the night. Uiagalelei, who opened the season as a Clemson starter after throwing for 10 interceptions and nine touchdowns in 2021, went 19-32 for 209 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions on Monday.
Uiagalelei added 19 net yards, a rushing touchdown and a rushing fumble while leading two key strikes in the third quarter that extended Clemson’s lead from 14-10 to 24-10 and held Georgia Tech at bay.
He was one of the first to praise replacement Klubnik after his fourth-quarter run and said the true freshman “is going to be a baller” at Clemson.
“He’s just poised there, man,” Uiagalelei said. “You can tell he plays with a lot of confidence… I expected no less from him.”
Uiagalelei has been unwavering in his support for Klubnik even as the freshman challenges him for Clemson’s starting quarterback spot, and Swinney said respect goes both ways.
“They’re both amazing young men,” Swinney said. “They are both very humble. They are both great leaders. They are both really, really talented. They support each other. »
Swinney was quick to say that Uiagalelei remains Clemson’s starter. But expect Klubnik to have more chances this Saturday in Clemson’s home opener against Furman State’s FCS program after impressing on Monday.
“A very good decision-maker,” Swinney said of Klubnik. “He’s shown his ability, how he can deal with things… It’s a good situation for us, that’s for sure. It is the most important position in football. We have guys who can go and win.
While Clemson remains loyal to Uiagalelei, others on Twitter weren’t as patient. Here’s a sample of various analysts’ reactions to Klubnik’s stunning debut at Clemson.
Twitter reacts to Cade Klubnik