DJ Uiagalelei still vividly remembers losing to NC State last season.
Clemson struggled to consistently move the ball against a talented NC State defense, and Uiagalelei finished just 12-of-26 for 111 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception. A year later, the quarterback still remembers that feeling coming off of the field.
"I remember losing the game, remember how it felt," Uiagalelei said on Monday. "Yeah, it definitely did suck losing. I hate losing."
It was a less than stellar performance for Clemson's starting quarterback, with Uiagalelei able to recall numerous plays that he wishes he had back.
"I felt like there was a lot of plays that I left out there, that I wish I had back," he said. "The throws that I missed like the one to (Justyn) Ross in overtime, I wish I had that throwback. A bunch of throws, the decisions, the tight end throw over the middle that got tipped for a pick. A lot of third-down stuff. A couple of plays I wish I could have done this better. I think that's the main stuff. Just little stuff that I wish I had back. Just different decision making putting the ball in a better spot."
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However, four games into the season, Uiagalelei barely resembles the quarterback seen in Raleigh last season. The junior is completing 64% of his passes, has thrown for 1,033 yards, and has 10 touchdown throws to just one interception.
He is coming off one of the best outings of his career, having torched the Wake Forest defense to the tune of 371 yards and five touchdown passes.
While the Tigers are no doubt getting better quarterback play, the NC State defense is also better, according to Uiagalelei, and with No. 5 Clemson set to host the No. 10 Wolfpack in college football's marquee matchup this weekend, the quarterback knows he will need to be at his best if the Tigers are to avenge last season's loss.
"I think they've definitely taken an up a level," Uiagalelei said. "I think they have a great group of guys on that defense, play really fast, really well. I feel like every single one of those guys on the team, within the defense, in every single position, are very good and very, very smart defensive players. They play fast. I think that's one thing that really stands out. They play fast, real physical, and I think overall have a really good team."
"I'm excited for the game and it's gonna be a great game. A great group of offenses and a great group of defenses in this game. It's gonna be great."
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