On the Record: Cullen Harper

CLEMSON - CUTigers.com checks in with starting quarterback Cullen Harper as he continues preparing for No. 19 Florida State.

After holding off freshman Willy Korn for the starting quarterback position through preseason camp, redshirt junior Cullen Harper is poised to make the first start of his college career Monday evening against 19th-ranked Florida State.

Harper, who has waited behind Charlie Whitehurst and Will Proctor for this moment, appears to be ready for whatever the Seminoles will throw at him. CUTigers.com caught up with Harper earlier this week for this one-on-one interview:

Things have changed a lot for you over the course of the last year as you move from the backup role to a starter. Talk about the mental aspect of being a starting quarterback compared to what you used to do in the past.
Harper: The key is to be more prepared in all aspects of the game. Trying to watch a lot of film and knowing all the plays inside and out. Just basically putting myself in a position to be as ready as I possibly can for anything I may see.

For the Clemson fans that have not seen your game, that didn't see any parts of spring practice, talk about what skills you bring to the table as a quarterback.
Harper: I think I am the prototypical quarterback ... a drop back passer. I like to look for that second and third receiver. If that's not there then I find my check down. But at the same time if the pocket breaks down I can get outside on the edge a little bit and make something happen with my feet.

Heard you were clocked at 4.57 in the 40-yard dash and I asked Tommy Bowden about that and he said your mom probably timed you. Your thoughts?
Harper: (laughing) My mom was in Alpharetta, Ga. at the time so you can probably ask Coach Batson about that.

"You know, obviously I think people overlooked me, so yeah, I have a chip on a shoulder. I want to prove I'm a good player and I can get the job done."
Does playing a team like Florida State on national television to open your college career add more pressure on you?
Harper: It adds a little pressure but I try to minimize that amount of pressure I feel in all aspects. All I can do is go out there and try to be the best I can be.

We have talked about this before, but does any part of you have a chip on your shoulder considering how so many people thought Willy Korn would be the starter for this game when he was signed in February?
Harper: You know, obviously I think people overlooked me, so yeah, I have a chip on a shoulder. I want to prove I'm a good player and I can get the job done. I want to lead this team to a successful season.

What have you seen of Florida State's defense on film? Man coverage or zone? What do you expect to see out there Monday?
Harper: I expect a lot of man coverage. Obviously they will try to stack the box a little bit and bring pressure. They are going to try and shutdown our running game and make us beat them with the pass.

We've heard about this team trying to get the ball downfield more this year. I've also heard that you like to check down to your running backs a good bit. Can you talk about your style of play when it comes to that?
Harper: You know, the first receiver, if that's a down the field throw I definitely don't want to force anything. I'll check down. Look who I'm checking down to - James Davis and C.J. Spiller. Those guys are incredible. But if the downfield throw is there and that's the first read that's what I'm going to look for and if it's open I'm going to hit it.

There you are standing at the top of the Hill, about ready to take the field in a nationally televised game against Florida State. What do you think you'll be thinking about at that exact moment?
Harper: Just soaking in the atmosphere. Enjoying it. And just getting ready to play Florida State. It should be fun.

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