Clemson switch: Korn in, Harper out Print
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Friday, 10 October 2008 11:04
NCAAF Headline News

 COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -From preseason player of the year to a seat on the bench, Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper has had a miserable fall.
Tigers coach Tommy Bowden said Friday he'd start freshman backup Willy Korn against Georgia Tech on Oct. 18, seeking to spark up what was supposed to be among the country's best offenses.
In control of it all was Harper, a steady senior who led the Atlantic Coast Conference in passing efficiency a year ago and set nearly two dozen school marks in his first season as a starter.
And that made him the clearcut choice this summer for the league's top award.
However, the Tigers (3-3, 1-2 ACC) and Harper have not come close to last season's record-setting attack.
The final straw for Bowden was Thursday night's 12-7 loss at Wake Forest. Clemson managed 198 yards and Harper threw his sixth interception - matching his total from 2007 - deep in Tiger territory that helped the Demon Deacons rally from 7-3 down.
pt. 27, a game the Tigers would eventually lose 20-17, Clemson has gone six quarters and scored just 7 points.
``We got to find a spark offensively,'' Bowden said. ``We need to re-evaluate our plan and a more mobile quarterback gives us more options.''
Harper has completed 99 of 161 throws for 1,121 yards with four touchdowns. Korn, in mop up appearances against The Citadel and South Carolina State, completed 14 of 18 passes for 157 yards. He's thrown for one TD and rushed for another.
Bowden decided on the switch Friday afternoon after watching tape of Thursday night's loss. He said he and offensive coordinator Rob Spence had not yet been able to contact Harper, given Friday and Saturday off. The Tigers return to practice Sunday evening.
Bowden has been extremely loyal to his quarterbacks, rarely subbing for them except in blowouts.
Since the middle of 2002, Clemson has started just three people at quarterback: Charlie Whitehurst, Will Proctor and Harper.
Bowden defended Harper this season as the senior's production tailed off and the Tigers won just one of four games this season against Football Bowl Series opponents.
Harper was a backup for three seasons, and even thought about transferring when he didn't get used at the end of 2006 despite Proctor's struggles at the position.
passing threat to the Tigers' vaunted ``Thunder and Lightning'' backfield duo of James Davis and C.J. Spiller.
Harper considered the NFL this winter, instead deciding to return and help the Tigers to what some thought would be a championship season. Clemson was picked to win the ACC, at No. 9, got its first top 10 ranking to start the year since 1991.
Things could not have gone worse for Clemson.
Harper, like most other Tigers, got pounded in a season-opening 34-10 loss to Alabama. He revealed weeks later the Crimson Tide had banged up his shoulder.
Harper and the Tigers looked like they'd regained their stride with three straight victories after the Alabama debacle.
Then came Clemson's awful past six quarters.
``There's nobody out there more disappointed than us right now,'' Harper said after the Wake Forest loss. ``So I don't feel sorry for (the fans) or anything. We're the ones putting in the hard work and it's very disappointing to us, but we've just got to keep our heads up and we just need some positive reinforcement from them right now.''
Clemson fans are sure to give that to Korn, the people's choice since arriving on campus in 2007. The second-year freshman won state championships about an hour's drive from campus at Byrnes High and has been a fan favorite since pledging to the Tigers before his junior prep season.
sprint away from defenders and make plays with his legs along with his arm.
Bowden said Spence agreed with the move.
Bowden expects Harper to handle the demotion with maturity and class, making the transition as smooth as the last time the coach was forced to such a change in 2002.
A highly regarded Clemson team was then struggling on offense and lost on Thursday night at home to North Carolina State, 38-6.
The next week, Bowden switched to freshman Whitehurst over Willie ``Shotgun'' Simmons, one of the coach's first recruits after he took the Tiger job before the 1999 season.
Whitehurst threw a record four TD passes in his debut and Duke, and remained Clemson's starter the following three seasons.
Right now, Bowden will take a crisply run series out of his offense.
``We're going to have to generate something,'' Bowden said. ``I'm not happy, got one touchdown in six quarters. That's nothing to be happy about.''
 

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