On the Record: Cullen Harper

CLEMSON - CUTigers.com sits down with Clemson QB Cullen Harper to preview Saturday's game at Duke.

As each game passes by, redshirt junior signal caller Cullen Harper continues to build confidence as he challenges many of Clemson's single season passing records.

For the year, Harper has now completed 170-iof-261 passes for 21 touchdowns and four interceptions. With one more touchdown pass, he'll hold the single-season record by himself.

CUTigers.com caught up with Harper earlier this week for another edition of On the Record:

Cullen it seems like the last two weeks this offense has started to get some of its swagger back and a lot of that has to do with the offensive line. Am I right?
Harper: I think they've continued to work hard week in and week out and they are starting to come together. They are starting to get a good feel of the offense and some confidence. Especially the past two weeks. They've come out and set the tone for the whole game.

From what I've seen, I attribute a lot of that to the insertion of Thomas Austin as the starting center, and then the play of Barry Humphries at guard this past weekend. Would you agree?
Harper: Thomas Austin has stepped in and done a great job. He's continuing to work and his snaps are getting better and Barry Humphries has done a great job at guard. I think the key is that both guys are starting to get comfortable with those positions. So it's looking good.

One of the few legitimate criticisms I've heard thrown your way this year have been the slow starts. It seems like last week it took you a series or two before you were completely in rhythm with the offense. What do you attribute that to?
Harper: I think I've just got to stay focused and try and come out with a competitive edge. And that first throw last week against Maryland the wind had a little bit to do with that. I'm looking to start better this week and the games after that.

What have you seen of Duke's defense on film? What kind of coverage do they like to play?
Harper: From what I've seen so far they run just about everything you can think of. They like to bring pressure and they like to blitz. They'll drop back and play a little cover two. Cover four. You have to expect anything because that's what they will do.

You were up there in 2004 and saw firsthand what happened that afternoon. What do you try to do this week, as the starting quarterback, to try and motivate your guys to do better in such a lackluster atmosphere?
Harper: You just have to come out and you have to stay focused. You can't play down to anybody's level and you can't let the atmosphere determine how you play. You have to come out there focused and take care of your business. Obviously you have to play to your level and not to anybody else's level.

What has coach Bowden told you guys about keeping this team playing at a high level despite the lack of atmosphere?
Harper: He says we have to stay focused and to not let the atmosphere affect how you play. We have to play to the level of Clemson football.

Do you feel like last week against Maryland was the best overall performance by this team this year?
Harper: I thought so. We came out and ran the ball extremely well and threw the ball we needed to. It was a good performance and we were extremely balanced. That's what we need. Anytime you can run the ball it opens things up. It opens up your quick game, the down the field throws the bubble screens so that's big.

Jacoby Ford is out for the year but it sounds like you'll get Rendrick Taylor back on Saturday. Talk about what all of that means for this offense these last four games.
Harper: Well the threat of Jacoby's speed ... defenses always have to take that into account and that will be tough to replace but I'm confident in our guys and that somebody will step in and be that threat. With Rendrick coming back, he's a big physical type guy that uses his body well to get open in the passing game and he's also a good blocker in the run game so it will be good to have him back.

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