Clemson Football: Cade Klubnik is a work in progress

Clemson Football took on Tennessee in the Orange Bowl Friday night, and the results weren’t pretty for the Tigers.

As usual, there were plenty of poor performances; it wasn’t just one problem. The game plan was definitely part of the bad performance. Even when there were good play calls, there were multiple issues with execution.

Fair or not, the focus is often on the quarterback, and due to the circumstances surrounding this game for Clemson, most eyes were on Cade Klubnik.

Klubnik made his first start of the season. Many have wondered why it had taken so long for him to get into the starting lineup. There has been an element of Tiger Nation that thought Klubnik should have won the job long ago.

We learned last night, that while Klubnik can be very good, he can also be ineffective against even a mediocre defense like Tennessee’s.

He was 30-54 passing, a completion rate of 54%. He had 320 passing yards. He had a touchdown on the ground, but none through the air. He threw two interceptions.

Was it the worst quarterback performance we’ve ever seen? No, not by a long shot, but it was also a far cry from the performance we saw in the ACC Championship game.

To put it in perspective, Klubnik threw the ball 30 more times against the Volunteers than he did against the Tar Heels, but only had 41 more yards.

I think this is what the staff has seen from Klubnik all season long in practice. Sometimes he was very good, and sometimes he wasn’t.

Against UNC, I could see why the staff is excited about Klubnik. Against Tennessee, I could see why the staff was hesitant to put Klubnik in the starting lineup earlier in the season.

Cade Klubnik can still be a good leader for Clemson Football, and he will continue to develop over this next year

Klubnik is a work in progress, like most freshmen quarterbacks. I’ve heard many people say that a player’s biggest improvement often comes from Year 1 to Year 2. I think there are a few reasons to think that Klubnik can improve significantly in 2023.

First, he will have had a whole year in the system. He will take all the first-team reps for a full spring and fall practice schedule.

Second, the team around him should get better. There were plenty of other poor performances other than Klubnik’s. The offensive line should improve. The receivers will get to know him and his style of play.

Third, the staff will also be able to draw up an offense centered on Klubnik’s talents.

Friday night was not what fans hoped to see, but it was real life with a young quarterback that is still developing.