Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei will lead the Tigers for the second time of his career against South Carolina on Saturday, and the junior signal caller understands exactly what the rivalry means to many people.

Uiagalelei didn’t mince words with the media on Monday regarding the importance of the game.

“Coach Swinney always said it; it’s its own game, it’s its own season,” said Uiagalelei. “It’s a huge game. This is South Carolina, our rival here. I know it means a lot to a lot of people in South Carolina and Clemson fans, so it means a lot to me too. That means a lot to the team.”

Uiagalelei got his first start against the Gamecocks a season ago in Columbia, South Carolina, and the atmosphere of the game gave him a deeper understanding of the Palmetto Bowl.

“Going to an away game in South Carolina definitely opened up (to my eyes) the magnitude of the rivalry and how much it means to a lot of people,” Uiagalelei said. “Not just people in Clemson, but South Carolina fans as well.”

The former five-star recruit completed 9 of 19 passes for 99 yards and one interception in the game last year. He also added 33 yards on the ground on five tries.

Though Uiagalelei and the Tigers didn’t have a great game, they still managed to beat South Carolina 30-0 last season for their seventh straight win over the Gamecocks.

While Uiagalelei has yet to play the Gamecocks at home, he added on Monday that he witnessed a rivalry game in Death Valley during a recruitment visit.

“The stadium rocked,” he said. “I’m really excited to play South Carolina here at home. It will be incredible.”

Speaking about the Gamecocks, Uiagalelei noted South Carolina and quarterback Spencer Rattler’s impressive play against No. 5 Tennessee last week.

“I thought (Rattler) played a great game,” Uiagalelei said. “I thought South Carolina played a great game overall. They went out there and punched Tennessee in the mouth. You have achieved incredible things with it.”

The 6-foot-4, 235-pound signal caller, who has started in all 11 Tigers games this season, has completed 65.3% of his passes for 2,406 yards, 21 touchdowns and six interceptions. He is also second on the team in rushing yards and touchdowns with 494 and six, respectively.

While Clemson has had a winning streak against South Carolina in recent years, Uiagalelei noted that he knows the Gamecocks will be ready to play.

“South Carolina, I think they always believe they can win every single game,” he said. “I feel like that’s the kind of program they are. It’s the kind of players they have there, the kind of coaching staff they have there.”

“It’s going to be a great game for us,” he continued. “South Carolina is a great team with great defense and great offense. We need to be able to have a great week of training, be able to be locked in and be ready for this game. It’s going to be a great game.”

Uiagalelei and Clemson know what’s at stake against the Gamecocks this weekend, and the Tigers are preparing to play their best and continue their winning streak against South Carolina.

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