Clemson’s Dabo Swinney Says QB Cade Klubnik to Start Orange Bowl

Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated

The Tigers coach confirmed the freshman will start moving forward.

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Clemson ’s ACC Championship Game victory on Saturday night came with some quarterback drama, as backup Cade Klubnik relieved D.J. Uiagalelei after just two offensive series. Klubnik went on to control the game, throwing for 279 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 30 yards and another touchdown in the Tigers’ 39-10 win over North Carolina.

After the game, head coach Dabo Swinney confirmed that Klubnik would start at quarterback for the Tigers (11-2) in the Orange Bowl.

“Things have to happen the way they’re supposed to happen, and tonight, that’s the way it went, and Cade was ready,” Swinney said, via ESPN’s Andrea Adelson . “You got a chance to see what he can do. He played in rhythm, guys made plays for him. He’s really, really fast. He can really make plays with his legs. It was a great night and a glimpse of our future and what it looks like at Clemson.”

The freshman Klubnik joined Clemson this year as one of the top recruits in the country, but he has spent the majority of the season backing up Uiagalelei. Although Uiagalelei has recorded a solid year with 2,521 passing yards, 22 passing touchdowns, 545 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns, he struggled in last week’s loss to South Carolina, which might have cost Clemson a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Uiagalelei has one year of eligibility left, but it appears as if Clemson is ready to hand the team over to Klubnik. Swinney didn’t go into detail regarding Uiagalelei’s future with the program.

“So moving forward, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of conversations,” Swinney said. “Obviously, it didn't end tonight the way he would like, but he’s got a bright, bright future as a football player.”

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