Even with spring practice concluding over the weekend, there is still plenty going on at Clemson. Senior writer Matt Connolly is ready to answer whatever questions you might have. You can submit your question for the “Question of the Day” here. Today’s question is about Taisun Phommachanh’s injury.
Do the issues at back up QB give team pause on how and when to run DJ? Team can’t afford to have him miss time, so do you reduce the risk by minimizing designed run plays for him?
— Mike McGraw (@MikeMmmcgra) April 5, 2021
Clemson backup quarterback Taisun Phommachanh likely suffered a torn Achilles during Saturday’s spring game, Dabo Swinney announced following the scrimmage.
It appears as though Phommachanh will be out for the 2021 season, leaving D.J. Uiagalelei as the only healthy scholarship quarterback currently on campus.
Clemson does have a preferred walk-on with experience in Hunter Helms, and The Tigers are set to add a pair of scholarship QBs this summer in Will Taylor and Bubba Chandler.
Still, the question is a reasonable one, and it’s something Swinney was asked after the spring game.
“We just play to win. I think you do what you’ve gotta do to win each and every game,” Swinney said. “We just kinda stay in the moment. Two years ago right now we handed out national championship rings out here, and we were very, very thin [at QB] on that team. It’s a week-to-week deal. Whatever it is we’ve gotta do to win that’s what we try to do. Then load up and try to win the next one.”
Even if Phommachanh were fully healthy, Clemson wouldn’t want Uiagalelei taking unnecessary hits. Whether Phommachanh, Hunter Helms or an incoming freshman is the backup quarterback, there’s still going to be a sizeable gap between them and a Heisman favorite in Uiagalelei.
Still, having a quarterback who is a threat to run has been a big part of Clemson’s offensive success over the year. My guess is that it will be a game-by-game situation.
The Tigers will likely be heavily favored throughout the regular season, with the exception of the Georgia game to open the season.
If Clemson is in a tough battle with the Bulldogs, it won’t hesitate to run Uiagalelei if it needs to do win the game. But if the Tigers are up 28 in the second quarter a couple of weeks later against Georgia Tech, running Uiagalelei doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Swinney did say Saturday that he wants his star quarterback to be more of a running threat, but there’s no reason to overly use him in the running game when you don’t have to.