Uiagalelei shows out, but says it was "not enough to get it done"

by - Senior Writer -
Uiagalelei says record-breaking performance wasn't good enough (Photo courtesy ACC)
Uiagalelei says record-breaking performance wasn't good enough (Photo courtesy ACC)

DJ Uiagalelei turned in one of the best performances in Clemson history, a record-breaking performance that will even go down in Notre Dame history, but in his eyes, it just wasn’t enough. Not enough for his team to win, and that’s all that matters.

A somber Uiagalelei met with the media following Clemson’s 47-40, double-overtime loss to the Irish, and didn’t want to dwell on the record books or his performance. Asked about leading his team back into the lead late in the game – when it appeared it might be enough to win the game – Uiagalelei didn’t flinch in his answer.

“You always play the game until the last whistle, so even though we were up, there is always a chance. We just have to keep playing until the clock hits zero,” the freshman from California said.

Uiagalelei made his second consecutive start in place of Trevor Lawrence and showed a nationwide audience that the Tigers’ future is bright at the quarterback spot. Uiagalelei finished the night 29-44 for 439 yards. Uiagalelei threw for the most ever yards against a Notre Dame team when he surpassed Southern California quarterback Carson Palmer’s 425 yards in 2002. He also threw for the most yards by a Clemson quarterback against a top five team. It’s also the third-best performance in a game by any Tiger quarterback.

However, the Tigers were just 4-for-15 on third down, leading Uiagalelei to say the effort was just “ok.”

"I felt like we played ok, just not enough to get it done," Uiagalelei said. "Notre Dame definitely had a really good defense, a really great defense. Did really good things on third down. Felt like I could have done a lot better today, but they played a great game."

Clemson’s run game was mired in neutral for most of the night and running back Travis Etienne was stifled, gaining just 28 yards on 18 carries. Overall, the Tigers averaged just one yard per carry.

"Hats off to them, they had a really great defense," Uiagalelei said. "They had a really good scheme coming into the game and did a really good job stopping the run. They just did a really good job, hats off to them."

Clemson had a final chance to tie the game, but Uiagalelei was sacked for a huge loss on the first play from scrimmage, and he admitted that he held onto the ball too long and should have thrown it away. He chalked it up to a learning experience that he can use down the road.

"I felt like it was good for some parts," Uiagalelei said. "I don't know what I threw for but there were definitely some throws that I missed out there that I should have made. It is what is, we can't go back now. Just got to move on, watch film, and learn from the mistakes."

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