Harper: Tigers Need to Limit Turnovers

Atlanta, Ga.--Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper has had a fantastic year throwing the ball in the Clemson offense. The big righty has completed 67 percent of his passes for 2,887 yards and has 27 touchdown tosses with only six interceptions.

"I set some goals for myself for the season," Harper says. "Thirty touchdowns was one of my goals, so I'm close. We've come out and had a great season. We've been able to run the ball well and we've been able to throw the ball well, and that's just a credit to the coaching staff. Like I said, I had high goals and I'm still not too surprised about it."

However, he'll be going against an Auburn defense that is 11th in the nation in pass efficiency, eighth in total yards allowed and fifth in scoring allowed.

"They are a very physical and aggressive-type team," Harper says of the Auburn defense. "The teams that have been successful against Auburn have really limited their turnovers. I forget who it was, Tennessee Tech maybe, if they had limited their turnovers they probably would have won the game. We've got to just make sure we go out there and play smart football. Hopefully we'll be able to establish the run game, take control of the line of scrimmage and then things will open up in the passing game."

Auburn has played a handful of teams this year that run the "spread offense," including South Florida, New Mexico State, Florida and maybe even LSU. The Tigers had some good and some bad in those games defensively.

Clemson's offense has put up some impressive numbers this season, averaging 412.4 yards and 34.2 points per contest. However, against some of the stronger defenses the Tigers have faced they have struggled. Their three losses this year have come against Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Boston College, all of which are in the top 25 in the nation in scoring defense and total defense.

Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden says that "I think the biggest thing about Harper has been his consistency," but in an offense designed to get the ball to the skill players on the perimeter, his numbers haven't been so impressive against good defenses. Versus teams currently ranked in the top 60 in total defense this year, he is averaging just 6.07 yards per attempt. Against other teams he has spiked his numbers with 9.55 yards per attempt.

Tiger Ticket Notes
Harper is one of many players from both teams from the state of Georgia. A native of Sequoyah High School in Canton, Ga., he was recruited by Auburn. "I went there the summer before my senior season in high school for a summer passing camp," Harper says. "It was real tough weather conditions and the coaches really couldn't evaluate me. They wanted me to come back, but I went to Clemson and really fell in love with the place. Auburn really was my runner-up."


Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories