As football passes go, this one had a significant degree of difficulty.
During a second-quarter play last Saturday against San Diego State, Oregon State quarterback DJ Uiagalelei ran to his right, then suddenly pivoted, jumped and fired a spiral across the field to left tackle Joshua Gray.
Several things could have gone wrong, but Uiagalelei threw a perfect strike, Gray easily caught the ball and scored a touchdown.
“I just wanted to make sure to give him an easy fastball,” Uiagalelei said.
If only everything else had gone as seamlessly for Uiagalelei against SDSU. After completing 74 percent of his passes during Oregon State’s first two games, Uiagalelei connected on just 14 of 30 throws. Some were good passes to tightly covered receivers, but others were significant misfires.
“I didn’t feel very good. … wasn’t very happy with how I played,” Uiagalelei said. “I’ve got to play better going into this week against Washington State.”
Uiagalelei has shown he’s capable. He was razor sharp in the season-opening 42-17 win over San Jose State, and led the Beavers on six first-half scoring drives against UC Davis.
“I think we’re in a good spot. Running game is good. Offensive line is playing good. Running backs are running hard,” Uiagalelei said. “We can get better. I feel like there’s room for growth. We’re not all exactly where want to be, but we’re in a really good spot.”
Uiagalelei didn’t dwell long on Saturday’s performance, as he drove down to Eugene after the game to see his brother Matayo, a defensive end for Oregon. The Ducks played Hawaii about an hour after OSU’s game ended.
Uiagalelei arrived at Autzen Stadium during the second quarter. No big deal. Just the Oregon State quarterback sitting among Duck fans.
“I was in the family section,” Uiagalelei said. “It was cool, man. Me and my girl. A couple other family (members) were there. It was good. Watched my brother, just chill.”
After playing in the ACC for three years as Clemson’s quarterback, one interesting aspect this season for Uiagalelei is playing in new venues. Saturday will be his first visit to WSU’s Martin Stadium.
“Me, growing up as a West coast guy, love the Pac-12, I’m excited to go play these different places,” Uiagalelei said. “Pac-12 is a league I always wanted to play in since I was a little kid. I’m excited, man. Pullman is a super cool place up there … it’s gonna be a great environment.”
Nick Daschel reported from Corvallis