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Clemson 2020 Season Review: Quarterbacks

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Now there’s no excuse not to know how to say Uiagalelei.

Photo by Matt Cashore-Pool/Getty Images

I can’t believe it’s here.

After all the time we spent with Trevor Lawrence — all the good times... and more good times, those other good times, and like two bad times — it’s finally time to say goodbye to seeing Trevor in Clemson’s orange and purple.

It feels like just yesterday he was lighting up Alabama with a barrage of touchdowns and our hearts with a flip of his glorious golden hair. Honestly, it feels as though his career with Clemson was almost brief, but it was two games longer than Deshaun’s, and it felt as though Deshaun was in Clemson for decades.

Maybe that’s because Deshaun was the one to lift the program to being one that could summit the mountain and stay there. Maybe it simply feels that way to me because Deshaun’s career at Clemson started just as I arrived on campus, and Trevor’s ended in tandem with my time here as well.

Either way, the talk of what Trevor could do or could be with Clemson is over, now the talk shifts to what he was, what will be next for him, and what will be next for Clemson.

First, what Trevor was for Clemson in 2020.

For one, he was vital. Not just because he’s the quarterback, that much is obvious, but because without a doubt, he was the focus of every opposing team’s plan, the determined leader, and hell, he was a good part of the reason there was even a season in 2020.

Statistically, he continued to improve with a higher completion percentage, more yards per attempt and per game, plus a better passer rating - despite the struggles Clemson had at wide receiver.

He checked down more, raising Etienne’s involvement in both pass catching and blocking, plus it helped to bring about the glorious return of Clemson’s tight ends after years of dormancy. There were absolutely some low points, but personally, I attribute a lot of his struggles to having to press to make up for lackluster O-line play and a depleted receiving corps down the stretch.

That leads me to what team will most likely be next for Trevor, it’s the — alright, take a deep breath — Jaguars. I know. At the very least Trevor can blend into the sunny Jacksonville aesthetic? Searching for any silver lining I can find here.

But the 1-15 Jaguars don’t exactly boast a great… anything. They do have this new head coach named Urban Meyer, which should be interesting, at least. I don’t know, I’m not a huge NFL person.

Before we say goodbye, I need to appreciate the hair one more time.

Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Clemson University Football Team Lead Protest March After Death Of George Floyd Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

I’ll miss it, shining in the sun, blowing in the wind...

Good luck, Trevor.

NCAA Football: Clemson at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

And hello, DJ Uiagalelei.

You’ve met him already, he’s the son of Big Dave, and he owns a howitzer of a right arm (see below) — even if all the action he’d gotten had been in garbage time, I’d be excited.

But he saw action when Trevor was sidelined by COVID-19 and looked in control of the offense versus Boston College, plus he’s built like Cam Newton, and that doesn’t hurt. I’ll admit, though, I was still worried about the QB play going into the Notre Dame game. This was a true freshman going on the road to face a playoff team, after all.

He put those fears to bed immediately. He looked like a man that’s been starting all year, and absolutely was not the reason Clemson lost that day. Coming into 2021 as the presumptive starter (and even a Heisman candidate according to some), I’m sure he’s more than capable of continuing the run of great quarterbacks for Clemson.

Sitting behind DJ is Taisun Phommachanh. The extra year of eligibility due to 2020 is perfect for Taisun as he could use all the time he can get to continue developing. Given a lot more time of backing up and training, I think he could be a good signal-caller by his senior year. So far, it hasn’t shone through on the field, but that could be easily chalked up to fact that Taisun has had just 30 career attempts. As the true backup in 2021, those numbers should go way up.

At the end of the day, yes, Trevor seemed to struggle mightily when the chips were stacked against him, but there’s only so much an individual can do to win a game. It’s been a wild ride with Trevor at the helm, and Clemson is now a team that expects to be there at the end instead of hopes to be there. Clemson has never had a quarterback like him, and though the quarterback position in Clemson should continue to be a strong point for years to come, there won’t be another one like Trevor Lawrence.