An Interview With Jermaine Harris

Jermaine Harris shares his thoughts about the upcoming season, the Gamecock secondary, mistakes made last season and how those mistakes have been corrected heading into the 2004 campaign ...

Jermaine Harris

It's your third year in the program - are you comfortable heading into this, your final season?

"Very comfortable. I mean there have been some changes here and there with different packages and different systems but as you get older that doesn't matter so much. You learn to adjust. I'm very comfortable with this new package and with this year's team."

Which safety position are you playing - and explain the positions this year to us if you will?

"I am the boundary safety - that's basically the strong safety."

Well then, where is Jamacia playing?

"He'll be playing both also, both field safety and boundary."

So both of you are going both ways?

"Yes. It's basically a safety package where we can switch up as we go depending on what the offense shows. We can both play either boundary or field and so can the second team guys. We're going to be very flexible back there this year. The safeties will play an important part of how this defense works this season. We have all the experience in the secondary so the coaches are going to use us that way."

Are you worried about the secondary at all - about the lack of experience in your corners?

"No, not at all. I've seen two good sets of corners in front of me for the past two seasons so I know good corners when I see them. We've got good corners this year. All they need is a game or two and you will never know they are new to the SEC."

Last year there were problems with the deep balls - the long third down conversions, coverage of tight ends and things like that. Has that been corrected this year?

"I think so. I think we're squared away in that regard. We've worked a lot on the mistakes we made last year in an effort to not make the same mistakes again. We're better than that. I'm not standing here pointing a finger at anybody but sometimes the mistakes are more about the system you are running than the players on the field. We've taken care of that this year. You're not going to see us running around out there thinking it is the other man's coverage responsibility and leaving someone so wide open. All of that has been taken care of. All it took was a couple of little adjustments here and there that should have been easily made last year - but it never was. Yes, we've taken care of those problems."

Do you feel better about going man to man in coverage this year than in past years?

"Yes I do. I've been working with the coaches on that a lot. I mean if I need to go man to man I am much better prepared now than I have been in the past where all I was told to do was play zone. These coaches have been working with us a lot on things we were missing and we have been learning a lot in the process so I feel real comfortable now compared to the past. I can say that I really think our secondary is going to surprise some people this year. We've got good talent here. We're not having to fill holes with scrubs. We're reloading with some pretty good players and that is going to show in game one."

What is your size and weight and your forty time?

"I'm about 6-4, 218 and I run in the real low 4.5s."

That's almost linebacker size. Both Jamacia and you are as big as some of the linebackers on a lot of other teams.

"We'll get used like linebackers sometimes this year. We're going to use our size to our advantage when possible."

Like safety blitzes?

"Yeah, of course. But that's not all. You'll see. There are a lot of things you can do with safeties like us. We have the size and experience to be used in a lot of ways and it makes the game a lot more fun for us too."

What are your goals this year both individually and as a team?

"The first and most important thing is to win close games this year. We lost three close games last year that could have made the season altogether different if we had won those. So the first goal is plain and simple - win close games. If we do that then everything else will take care of itself."

Are you looking forward to traveling for the first game of the season this year?

"We've had all summer to think about that game and to prepare for it. We have had to live with how last season ended all summer too and believe me, we want to get the taste of that game out of our mouths. We're anxious to get started and we will be prepared and ready by kick off in Nashville. There will be no doubts about how prepared we are once that game gets going ... we're all looking forward to it. We respect Vanderbilt. We are going in there knowing that believe they are going to beat us, and we cannot allow that to happen. We're ready and by the time we go we'll be even more ready."

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