Another Game, More Harper Records

Tyler Grisham

CLEMSON – Despite the hubbub by the Clemson fans and head coach Tommy Bowden about getting more playing time for backup quarterback Willy Korn, starter Cullen Harper continues to put together a masterful season.

One week after putting together one the greatest performances in Clemson history, he once again had a very good game by completing 16-of-19 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns to lead the No. 20 Tigers to a 38-10 victory over Furman Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Harper's passing efficiency rating was a ridiculous 253.9, which is an all-time single game record for the Tigers. The old record was 247 set by Woody Dantzler in 2000.

Over the last two weeks, Harper is an astounding 36-of-45 for 536 yards and eight touchdowns. He also hasn't thrown an interception in 91 career attempts, which is just one attempt shy of the school record at the start of a career.

However, Harper found a few flaws in his game that could be corrected.

"I could have went 19-for-19, so obviously I could have done a little more," he said. "I wish I could have gotten out of a few more of those (five) sacks."

Several of Harper's throws rivaled those made by current NFL quarterback and former Tiger Charlie Whitehurst.

Harper hit a Tyler Grisham perfectly in stride on a 49-yard touchdown pass that made it 17-0 in the second quarter. Earlier in the first quarter, Harper hit Grisham on a 21-yard pass that moved the ball to the Paladins 2.

But his best throw of the game and maybe in his short career came in the beginning of the fourth quarter, when he rolled to his right and waited for an eternity for a receiver to finally get open.

Aaron Kelly was that receiver, but only by a foot or so. Nonetheless, Harper zipped a perfect pass 23 yards to hit Kelly right in the numbers, while still rolling to his right for a touchdown to make it 31-3.

Bowden, who has been less than overflowing in his praise of Harper despite the stats, was able to give Harper a small dose of compliments on some of those throws.

"We missed those throws last year (against Virginia Tech)," Bowden said. "We had the exact same routes and the exact same throws and missed them last year."

Nonetheless, several fans have been calling for super-hyped freshman Korn to get the starting job. Earlier in the week, even Bowden said that Korn needed to play during critical situations.

"It's coach talk and media talk," Harper said without much worry. "I think (the controversy) was made a little bigger than it really was. If I go out there and take care of business, everything will take care of itself. I'm not looking to talk about it."

And all this came just days after he set a school record by throwing five touchdowns against Louisiana-Monroe.

Against Furman, Harper threw the 10th touchdown pass of his career in only his 78th pass attempt, which gave him the school record for the most touchdown passes thrown in a player's first 100 attempts. The old record was nine by Whitehurst.

"I don't know (when the Korn talk will start again)," he said. "I'm not too worried about it, honestly."

Once again, one of the loudest cheers of the day came when Korn took to the field with about 11 minutes left in the game.

Those roars got even louder when he hit backup receiver La'Donte Harris for a 42-yard touchdown pass, which was the first scoring pass of his career.

"You guys could have made that throw he was so open," Korn joked. "You just think about all the hard work you put in during the summer and practice and to finally see it happen was an incredible feeling."

He finished the day going 2-of-3 for 51 yards and a touchdown.

But he says despite all the fuss, Harper is still clearly the guy to lead this team.

"There's not much more Cullen can do," he said. "I think Coach was just saying he just needs to get me more playing time just incase something does happen to Cullen and I have to go in."

Right now, Clemson fans need to hope that day's a ways off, because as long as Harper is in the game, it means the Tigers are doing well and still winning.

However, Bowden was quick to point out that Harper's very good performances have come against less than stellar competition and that he hasn't been tested yet. Though that's a totally different view on the situation from what he did last year with Will Proctor, who has good numbers against bad teams.

"It's hard to sit there and say a guy is a great player with playing three games," Bowden said. "That's like coaching. Until he wins a championship, how can you say he's a good coach? I think the same thing applies. Can you get in there and lead your team to a championship against better personnel than what we've had. But he's answered every test so far."

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