Tigers Playing for Coach Swinney

CLEMSON - With ACC Championship hopes officially gone and with just three games remaining in the season, the Tigers are focused on one thing- getting bowl eligible.

The problem is they have to run the table in their last three games to make it happen.

And it won't be easy.

Clemson faces a much-improved Duke team this weekend inside of Death Valley, before venturing up to Charlottesville, Va. seven days later to tangle with the Cavs- and there's the season finale against archrival and nationally-ranked South Carolina.

Still, given the fact that two of the remaining three games will be played at home, there is optimism the season can indeed be closed with a bang.

CUTigers.com sat down with the player who will dictate most of Clemson's success down the stretch, QB Cullen Harper, for a 1-on-1 interview to get his thoughts on where the Tigers go from here:

Cullen we have heard a lot about Duke on offense with Eron Riley and Thaddeus Lewis, but defensively what kind of problems can they cause for you?
Harper: They like to mix a lot of different coverages in to confuse the quarterback. They'll change up things with how they line up their safeties. Right when the ball is snapped they will go to a different spot which helps disguise their coverages. So what you have to do, is you have to know exactly what it is going on. And have a good feel for what they are doing because they'll try to make it difficult to understand what's going on.

Senior QB Cullen Harper has completed 154-of-252 passes (61%) for 1,783 yards, nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions this season.
I don't have to tell you that you were beaten up pretty good against Florida State so here is our weekly check in with your health - are you 100 percent and what does the line need to do better to keep you on your feet?
Harper: Physically I feel pretty good. Little bit sore but that's typical for me at this point in the week. Offensively, we probably could have a tight end stay in to help block, or chip the running back and I'm sure we'll look at that. But if we can get Chris Hairston back in there we should be fine with regular protections.

What's the talk in the locker room right now as far as expectations for the rest of the season? Is it just getting to a bowl game at this point?
Harper: That is [the talk]. There's no longer a chance to play for an ACC Championship or a BCS game. All of that stuff is out the window and there's no point in talking about that any more. Best case scenario is we win out and go to a good bowl game and end on a high note.

Obviously you are getting closer to the end of your career and this season has very much been up and down. How do you look back on things here at Clemson?
Harper: You look back on things and it's been a really good career for me here. If I had to do it all over again I'd make the same decision. I came here never having completed a slant in high school. I learned a lot about defenses and hopefully I'll have the opportunity to play at the next level and that's all you can ask for.

From a coaching staff stand point, do you feel like the team has bought into everything Dabo has brought to the table here in his short time as a head coach?
Harper: I really do. Everybody believes in him. Everybody is behind him 100 percent. We have three games left here. I would love to see Coach Swinney to get the job here after I leave but in order for that to happen we have to win out. We are definitely playing for him and definitely playing to the best of our abilities.

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