Harris: "I Play With a Lot of Emotion"

The redshirt freshman offensive tackle, Mike Harris, is slated to start his second game this weekend against Oregon State, and he talked to us about his development, being thrown into the starting lineup, the future of UCLA's offensive line, OL coach Bob Palcic, and more...

Mike Harris, the redshirt freshman offensive tackle who is slated to start his second game this weekend against Oregon State, talked after practice Tuesday.

How would you describe your development over the past two years?

"How I developed, I just got better. I understand the game more. Football is about repetition and going out there and executing on different plays. I pretty much just learned after each practice that I attend."


What does it mean to you that Neuheisel said you might remain in the starting lineup even when Jeff Baca gets back?

"It means a lot that he has trust in me. He knows I can get the job done. I'm going to do whatever I can to execute what I can do to help this team."


Were you surprised that you started so early in your career?

"Not really. Last year we lost a lot of seniors on the line so I knew that this year there'd be a lot of young guys competing. I'm not that surprised. I worked hard in the off-season and the season and just got better."


What's the key for you to play effectively?

"Just executing my assignments, film study and just playing hard. Football is a hard sport. It takes hard work to be great at it. Pretty much that's it -- just working hard and executing."


What do you think you do well and what are some things you need to improve?

"What I do well, I just go hard. I play with a lot of effort, a lot of emotion in the run game and in the passing game to protect Kevin Craft. I just need to improve on being smart. Football, especially now in college, it's faster. With defenses, there's a lot more things they can do that you have to know and recognize."


What was it like starting for the first time?

"It was amazing. Thousands of people watching. It was football. Football is football on the practice field and in the game. You just got to go out there and execute and play hard and you'll succeed."


What has offensive line coach Bob Palcic brought to the offensive line?

"He brought us to the point where, as a line, we take things more seriously around here. From our footwork to our hand placement. He really stresses that to us, to do those things."


What's it like playing for Palcic? What kind of coach is he?

"Coach Palcic is a great coach. It's a blessing actually to have a coach like coach Palcic. We play hard for him. I've got three more years here and hopefully he'll be around."


Is there anything in terms of technique that you picked up under Palcic?

"Yeah. Just everything pretty much. Being a young player coming from high school, I didn't have an offensive line coach like coach Palcic. He stresses every detail on every play."


What's the future of the offensive line look like with so many young guys?

"It's looking good for the next few years. We have a lot of young guys playing and they're getting experience now. We're just going to keep working hard, especially in the off-season. There's a lot of young guys and we're all going to go hard because we're all going to be competing for starting jobs."


How valuable is it for you and other young guys on the line to get game experience this year?

"It's very valuable. Freshmen and sophomores usually don't play in games but since we're playing we're getting more experience for the years that are coming. We'll just get better and better."


What has your shift in football knowledge been like from year one to year two?

"It's changed a lot. Last year I didn't really do plays with the offense. I was on the scout team. Now I have a playbook to remember. I have to be able to recognize defenses, have proper technique and execute my assignment."


How would you evaluate the offensive line this season?

"We're a good line I think. We just got to go out there and execute when it comes to game time. We definitely have the weapons to have a running game and protect Kevin. We just got to go out there and execute and we'll be fine."


What are some things that the offensive line needs to improve on?

"We can improve on execution, finishing plays, finishing our man that's in front of us. Not allowing him to get to Kevin. That's pretty much it. We got to take every play like it's our last."




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