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Clemson Benches QB D.J. Uiagalelei for Backup Taisun Phommachanh, But Starter Returns

Taisun Phommachanh replaces D.J. Uiagalelei in the third quarter of Clemson's road game against Pittsburgh and leads the Tigers to a field goal on his first possession.

D.J Uiagalelei out. Taisun Phommachanh in. 

After a season of struggling on offense and weeks of fans calling for some sort of change or spark at the quarterback position, the Clemson coaching staff finally made the call on Uiagalelei in the third quarter of Saturday's ACC showdown at Pittsburgh, but it only lasted two drives. 

The decision to bench the starting quarterback came after he threw a shovel pass that was intercepted by Pittsburgh's SirVocea Dennis and returned 50 yards for a touchdown that put the No. 23 Panthers up 21-7 with 11:30 left in the third quarter. 

Phommachan, who 10 passes this season primarily in garbage time, came out with the offense on the ensuing possession, and he marched the Tigers down the field, completing three passes for 23 yards to get them inside the Pitt 25-yard line. 

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However, the drive stalled on a third-and-10 speed option play in which Phommachanh kept the ball for a run into the teeth of the Pitt defense on the short side of the field. 

The Tigers settled for a B.T. Potter field goal to cut the lead to 11. After Pitt answered with a field goal of its own, Phommachanh nearly threw an interception on his second drive, which went 3-and-out and ended with a punt. 

With a spark not being provided and Clemson falling behind 27-10, the coaches went back to Uiagalelei on the next Tiger possession. Uiagalelei then scored on a 6-yard touchdown run to cap a 5-play, 72-yard scoring drive with 7:56 left in the game to cut the Pitt lead to 27-17.

Uiagalelei was 11-of-23 passing for 101 yards and two interceptions when he was benched. The sophomore has a rough season, completing 55 percent of his passes and averaging 5.4 yards per attempt coming into Saturday's road game.

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