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DJ Uiagalelei

What Went Right For DJ Uiagalelei vs Wake Forest?

  • Damian Parson
  • September 26, 2022
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Last weekend, Clemson and Wake Forest engaged in one of the more exciting games of the season—well, the most exciting game of last weekend at least. This game went into double overtime, where Clemson outlasted Wake Forest in a 51-45 thrilling victory. There were multiple storylines from this game, but the biggest is the outstanding performance of quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei.

Uiagalelei was the engine to the Tigers’ victory. He watched as his usually reliable defense gave up big plays and scores, one after another. That placed the pressure on him to keep up and essentially go score for score with Sam Hartman

Not only was Uiagalelei able to keep up with Hartman and his offense, but he led the Tigers to victory. He remained calm, cool, and collected throughout the back-and-forth slugfest, throwing for 317 yards and five touchdowns while completing 26 of his 41 pass attempts. 

What went right for Uiagalelei on Saturday that hadn’t in previous starts? 

He trusted his wide receivers to make plays that were not routinely made throughout the season. Uiagalelei’s decision-making was impressive but the ball placement and accuracy were even better. His touchdown to Beaux Collins on the fade route in the high red zone was special.

Uiagalelei threw with incredible touch, timing, and accuracy to all three levels of the football field—that did not end with that lone throw or play. One of the biggest areas of improvement I noticed from summer scouting was his mechanics. Uiagalelei throws with his shoulders on an even plane and his base remains under control—unlike last season where his base would be overly extended causing poor ball placement. You can see the impact of his mechanics as he whips this slant to his receiver off the hard play-action fake. As a result of his body positioning in the mesh point, this was not an easy throw. Uiagalelei had to snap his hips and feet back underneath him to create a balanced base before drilling this pass to his receiver.

One of Uiagalelei’s best throws came on a much-needed two-point conversion. His pocket collapsed and a defender lifted one leg off the ground. Uiagalelei showcased his strength to maintain his balance and deliver a dime. This was a play we do not see every day, even by the biggest and best quarterbacks in the NFL.

Uiagalelei continued to fight and lead his team down the field into a position to score over and over again. Once in overtime, not only did Uiagalelei have to match Wake Forest’s opening score, he had to score again to take the lead.

His poise and calm demeanor were on display yet again on a key third down in OT.  Uiagalelei did a fantastic job trusting his protection and going through his progressions, before finding his tight end in the end zone. Uiagalelei threw a beautiful touch pass with optimal ball placement for his guy to make a play on the ball. This was the game-winning pass.

Uiagalelei played a tremendous game and made high-end NFL-caliber throws. This is the type of game that can catapult momentum for a special run this season.

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Written By

Damian Parson