CLEMSON, South Carolina – DJ Wiagaleley looked so confident and smooth on that chilly 2020 fall day in his first college start against Boston College.
Nearly two years later, when the fifth-place Tigers (5-0, 3-0, Atlantic Coast Conference) play the Eagles (2-3, 1-2) again on Saturday, Wiagaleley is just as ready – though these days he’s armed with the experience of overcoming tough times on the pitch.
“It was definitely a surreal moment,” Wiagaleley recalled. “I had no idea, but it was cool.”
The initial start of the Huiagaleles took place when the national championship player Trevor Lawrence dropped out with COVID-19. Wiagaleley shone that day, throwing for 342 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Tigers to an 18-point win to win 34–28.
The following week, Wiagaleley passed for 439 yards—more than ever at Notre Dame Stadium—in a 47-41 loss to the Fighting Irish.
Lawrence returned shortly thereafter, but the path of the Wiagalels was determined. He was in every way the star he was predicted to be from his early days at California’s Power St. John Bosco High School.
Lawrence became the No. 1 NFL draft pick, and the Tigers were owned by Wiagaleley.
Huiagalel’s name has been at the top of the Heisman Trophy lists, he’s been getting lucrative NIL deals and national TV commercials, but things have moved fast in 2021 for the 6-footer Huiagalel. Clemson lost twice in September and was out of contention for the ACC title he had won the previous six years.
Some of the blame was placed on Uyagalelei, who was unsure of his readings and inaccurate in his throws. He completed less than 56% of his passes and finished with more interceptions than touchdowns (10 to nine).
Clemson’s critics lashed out, already pointing to the team’s next up-and-comer prospect, a reserve freshman. Cade Strawberry – take control this season.
Uyagalelei did not pay attention to outsiders and continued to work on himself.
“No one wants to hear someone complain, whine, make excuses for something,” he said this summer. “As for me, I always want to put my head down and work. Just keep showing up there, keep doing your best and just keep working.”
The approach that made the Huiagaleles a footballing success has not changed, said Jason Negro, coach of the Huiagaleles at St. John Bosco.
“What I was most proud of was that the DJ didn’t blame anyone else,” Negro told The AP by phone. “He took the blame and, as always, put the team first.”
Wiagaleley, despite leading Clemson to 10-3 and six straight wins before the end of the season, was looking to improve. He vowed to lose weight – he dropped about 30 pounds from his peak weight last year to 230 this season – and improve his technique.
Wiagaleley answered all questions about Clemson’s perfect start. He has 11 touchdowns – more than all of last year – and just one interception. Huiagalel’s completion percentage is up almost 66% and he has three touchdowns.
“I’ve never been so happy for a guy, the kid deserves it.” Coach Clemson Dabo Sweeney said after Wiagaleley made five passes to TD in a 51-45 overtime win at No. 15 Wake Forest on Sept. 24. him off like he’s some kind of terrible player. He is not.”
The Negro said that Wiagaleley never once lost faith in himself during the offseason. His old coaches and friends in the West would tell him not to worry. “He always assured me, ‘Coach, look, this season we are going to be a really good football team,'” Negro said.
Under the leadership of the Wiagalels, the Tigers are among the 16 undefeated teams remaining in the College Football Bowl Division and only one of two in the ACC. Gone were the calls for someone other than the Wiagalels to lead Clemson’s attack.
“It was a little different because I played a lot better,” Wiagaleley said. “But for the most part, I try to keep my head down, keep my circle tight, and try to get better every day.”
ANGELS – Dorian Thompson-Robinson answered questions about his game and the changes at UCLA in the same way he deals with opposing defensemen.
The Year 5 senior quarterback and the Bruins made huge declarations of respect with a 40-32 victory over No. 15 Washington. obstacles. The next one will come when No. 11 Utah arrives at the Rose Bowl in the biggest game of the Pac-12 schedule this week.
UCLA is 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the Pac-12 for the first time since 2013 and has an eight-game win streak since last season. While the Bruins are gaining momentum, Thompson-Robinson also understands that respect and success can be fleeting, especially in early October.
“We’re 5-0 now, but that doesn’t give you a championship ring,” Thompson-Robinson said. “I think in the end respect comes when you earn a ring and a kit at the end of the season. This is what really determines how hard you work at the end of the year. This is how you end up all the way.”
Thompson-Robinson surprised many by returning to Westwood for a fifth season. Trainer Chip Kelly even suggested it was time for Thompson-Robinson to look into the NFL Draft last year because of what he accomplished.
“He is a by-product of his experience. Whether he’s a freshman or a fifth year, there are always opportunities for him to learn. And he uses it,” said Kelly.
However, Thompson-Robinson still had to develop both on the field and as a leader. It also had to be ensured that the team continued to develop under Kelly after a rocky start to his tenure.
UCLA went 10-21 in its first three years under Kelly, but has been 13-4 since the start of last season. During an eight-game winning streak, the Bruins scored at least 40 points six times and averaged 23 points.
Thompson-Robinson threw for 1,981 yards with 18 touchdowns and four interceptions in the last eight games. He also rushed 64 times for 463 yards and six touchdowns.
Thompson-Robinson ranks fourth in the nation in completion percentage (74.3%) and 12th in transfer efficiency (171.4). It will be Thompson-Robinson’s 41st start at UCLA, just four steps away from surpassing Cade McNaught as the most Bruins quarterback.
Thompson-Robinson also needs four touchdowns to break. Brett Hundleya career high of 75 and 1,957 passing yards to jump over McNown’s 10,708 yards.
“From my point of view, he is now playing his best football. It’s not that he was bad before, but he really took his game to the next level.” – Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham said. “He seems to be very balanced. Plays, takes care of the ball and he is a double threat and the biggest problem for us is his ability to run and shoot the ball.”
Against Washington, Thompson-Robinson played his best game at UCLA. He has four touchdowns, including three passes, and a 315-yard throw. But most of the bright moments brought a couple of runs. He overcame Camren Fabiculanan’s Husky safety during a 10-yard scrimmage in the second quarter. At the beginning of the second half, he went around the defenders Bralen Trice and Javion Green, causing them to fall on top of each other in a heap during a 2-yard TD run that energized the crowd and teammates.
“I think I’m very aware of what I’m bringing to the table, I’m just trying to help the team win,” Thompson-Robinson said.
Kelly would like to see Thompson-Robinson step aside a couple more times, but he’s hoping his quarterback will try to avoid getting in the way. Kelly also knows that the worst thing a coach can do is take away a player’s instinct to play.
“He needs to know that his best ability is availability and we need to keep him on the pitch so he needs to be aware of that. You can see that he slides a little more and takes fewer unnecessary hits,” Kelly said. “He is an elusive runner. During a TD, he could drop his shoulder and try to cross the goal line, but we always like it better when he doesn’t take hits.”
In addition to getting the ball out of the pocket faster, Thompson-Robinson trusted his feet more and climbed when he got the chance.
Just as the Washington game was Thompson-Robinson’s chance to avenge a four-year-old loss, Utah (4-1, 2-0) has been marked on his calendar since the schedule was announced. The Bruins lost the last five to the reigning Pac-12 champions by an average of 27 points.
Thompson-Robinson did not feature in last year’s game due to an ankle injury, but still remembers the 2019 game when he was fired five times and had two interceptions in a 49-3 loss.
“I still have a bad taste in my mouth from that game,” he said. – We have a job. We give them all the respect they deserve because they deserve it.”
LAWRENCE, Kansas. Long-suffering football fans in Kansas mostly found it flattering when Nebraska fired Scott Frost and there were rumors that the Huskers would be interested in hiring the Jayhawks. Lance Leipold as their next coach.
When did Wisconsin fire their coach this week? The feeling was not so much flattery as fear.
Born in the small town of Jefferson, about 40 minutes from Camp Randall in Madison, Leipold is as Wisconsin as summer sausage and cheese. Leipold played college football at Wisconsin-Whitewater, a Division III school, where he later began his coaching career and won six national championships as head coach. He also works for three seasons Barry Alvarez in the early 1990s as a graduate student with the Badgers.
So for now, connections between Leipold and…