1-on-1 with Cullen Harper

CLEMSON - CUTigers.com sits down with senior quarterback Cullen Harper. Has the chip on his shoulder returned heading into this weekend's game against Maryland?

How are you feeling right now Cullen?
Harper: I'm feeling good. We are 3-1 and ranked No. 19 in the country. We would obviously like to be 4-0 but are 3-1 and we are getting ready for Maryland. We'll be ready. I've watched them on tape and they are strong. It should be a good game. Definitely will be watching a lot of film this week to prepare but I'm looking forward to playing well. It's all about improving each and every day and we've got something to prove.

Maryland plays the odd stack on defense. What does that mean for you as the quarterback?
Harper: It changes up things a little bit- especially on the offensive line and how they block against different schemes. They'll mix in an even front, just as any defense will really. They'll change coverages in the secondary as well. It will be a defense similar to Alabama but maybe not quite as much as what they did.

So with the odd stack and with five defensive backs in the game at a good bit, do you try and dink and dunk away at a defense like that? Is it one of those defenses designed to keep everything in front of it to help avoid big plays?
Harper: They'll be some holes open in the secondary. A lot of times with the odd it's like a cover three with a three deep, five under, or four under, like you said. There will be some holes there you just have to make sure you know where you are going with the football.

Is this whole deal about the quarterback situation here at Clemson force you to kind of have a chip on your shoulder like you did a year ago at this time? Do you feel like you have to prove yourself all over again?
Harper: Yeah- every week you have something to prove. Every week you have to prove you are one of the top quarterbacks in the country. Or the top quarterback at the school. Stuff like that. I'm always going out to with something to prove and just trying to get better.

Talk about the interceptions last week - what happened?
Harper: Really, the first one, I thought I forced the ball in there. It was 3rd-and-30 something yards. I probably should have just checked the ball down. The second one- was a good play on their part. We have a play called where you go to the 1-on-1 and they had a linebacker drop really deep in coverage and that kind of surprised us. And just never saw that guy. Stuff like that is just going to happen. That one I wasn't really worried about. But I definitely don't want to force the ball and want to get the check down and keep our offense on the field.

You guys really put up a lot of points last week but I still don't get the sense this team has come anywhere close to really starting to click. Am I right? Is it coming?
Harper: It's definitely still coming. I don't think we are hitting on all cylinders either. When we are doing that I think about last year against N.C. State- games like that where we are moving the ball really well. And we haven't gotten to that point yet. We are still getting comfortable up front and they are doing a great job of protecting me really well. You know, if we can continue to get better week in and week out, which is what we've been doing, we'll be fine. Hopefully pretty soon we'll be clicking on all cylinders.

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