Will Clemson enjoy smooth quarterback transition?

Will Clemson enjoy a smooth quarterback transition?

Clemson Tigers have hit the lottery in terms of starting quarterbacks over the last decade. The Tigers have boasted Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence behind centre to lead charges towards two National Championships. Watson departed the college game at the end of the 2016 season and was drafted by the Houston Texans in the 2017 Draft.

There were incredibly big shoes to fill for the next quarterback Kelly Bryant. Bryant failed on the big stage against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoffs, losing 24-6 in the semi-finals to Nick Saban’s team.

Four games into the 2018 campaign, Dabo Swinney turned the team into the hands of Lawrence, who was a freshman at the time. However, it was clear that the quarterback was ready for the occasion and duly delivered an outstanding season to drive the Tigers to the National Championship, dominating Alabama in the title game. Lawrence maintained a standard of excellence rarely seen in the college game for the next two seasons, although the ultimate prize of further titles eluded him and the Tigers in defeats to the LSU Tigers and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Trevor Lawrence Action

Lawrence will now almost certainly join the NFL ranks as the number-one overall pick in the 2021 Draft and the Tigers now have to turn the page with a new starter for the 2021 campaign. The question is will they be getting a player of the ilk of Lawrence and Watson, or will they be more of a Bryant.

DJ Uiagalelei is the presumed starter for Swinney’s men for the next campaign. He played in relief of Lawrence during the 2020 campaign and performed to a high standard. In two starts and other relief appearances, he threw for 917 yards and five touchdowns with a completion percentage of 66.7. Uiagalelei also scored four rushing touchdowns to highlight his dual-threat in the redzone.

He appears to have all the attributes to thrive as the starter on a talented team, and the bookmakers seem confident that the Tigers will be competing for the National Championship with Uiagalelei behind centre. If you visit Space Casino you will see they have odds of +400 to win the title, behind only the defending champions Crimson Tide.

Uiagalelei has a strong arm and the ability to move around in the pocket. However, becoming the full-time starter will have challenges as coaches and opponents adjust to his strength, and attack his weaknesses. Lawrence and Watson were outstanding not only because of their physical attributes, but also their mental ones. Both quarterbacks held their composure in key moments to deliver success to the Tigers. Uiagalelei now has to match their ability to keep the programme on course.

The quarterback will be working with a new set of receivers following the departure of Amari Rodgers and Cornell Powell. The onus will be on Frank Ladson Jr, Ajou Ajou and E.J. Williams to step up and support Uiagalelei by creating separation and having sure hands under pressure. The Tigers have just a proud history of developing wide receivers as they do quarterbacks. It will take a complete effort all-round on the offense to ensure Clemson have a smooth transition into a new era.