After taking over the starting quarterback spot with the departure of Will Proctor last season, Cullen Harper has gone from a relative unknown to one of the top quarterbacks in the nation.
On the verge of one of the biggest games for the Tigers in the last 15 years, Harper is on track to have one of the greatest seasons in Clemson football history at the quarterback position.
For the season, he's now completed 214-of-322 passes for 2,432 yards, 26 touchdowns and four interceptions.
CUTigers.com sat down with the redshirt junior earlier this week to get his thoughts on the big game and more in another edition of On the Record:
Have you allowed yourself to sit back and think about everything you've been able to accomplish this season? You've gone from being a relative unknown three months ago to a potential Heisman contender next season.
Harper: Well I've pretty much forced myself not to think about things like that until after the season. Every week I've got a different game to prepare and usually it's a team that has a quality defense. So there's never that time to sit back and think about what's going on. You have to stay focused. You have to stay humble. And you have to stay determined and just get ready for each game each week.
Matt Ryan is a quarterback that could be the first quarterback taken in the 2008 draft yet your numbers are better than his this season. What do you think when you hear someone tell you that?
Harper: It's a great mention. Matt Ryan deserves all the credit that he's gotten. Obviously he's had a great year this year and put together a strong year last year. In my opinion he's one of the top quarterbacks in the country. Anytime you are mentioned on the same line with that guy it's a tremendous honor.
Talking with Coach Bowden earlier he said he expects B.C. to continue to play a lot of zone coverage in this game. Is that what you've been seeing on film?
Harper: I've seen a lot of cover 42. A little cover four to the field. We expect them to do a little bit of that. Silva- he's a big physical type guy. They've got some really big guys up front. One of their d-tackles is about 6-3, 360. It's a big physical defense that plays a lot of zone. We just have to make sure we know what we are doing against these guys.
As a quarterback, what are some of your keys to moving the ball against zone coverage?
Harper: Just not forcing anything. You take what the defense gives you. When you play against a man-type team, sometimes you can throw it up there and let your guy make a play. You can't do that against a zone team because there will be a safety there to pick the ball off. You just have to make sure you know what you are doing with the ball. Don't be late and don't try to force anything in there. Just take what the defense gives you.
Have you sensed the buzz around campus this week and has been bigger than what you remember last week before the Wake Forest game?
Harper: I have sensed that. Anytime you walk around on campus there is that electricity in the atmosphere. Everybody is excited and people were already talking about this game earlier in the week. It's a big time game. It's a game that we feel like is one of the biggest games around here in a long time so I expect it should be a lot of fun. We just have to go out there and make the most of our opportunity.
On the Record: Cullen Harper
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