So if you read my first retrospective on the defense here you probably saw the line, "I may just add one specifically about Cliff Harris, I haven't decided yet. He's not returning my phone calls and he won't accept my friend request on Facebook." Well, someone else saw that same line and the next morning I received an email with the subject heading "What's your phone number?"
Turns out the email was from Cliff Harris' father Cliff C. Harris (or Willie). I'll admit, at first I thought it was someone from ATQ playing a really great prank on me so my initial response to Mr. Harris, was, well let's just say I'd like to do that one over again.
Anyway, I ended up getting in touch with Mr. Harris and we talked for about 10 minutes. He is an incredibly nice guy. He's happy Cliff has gotten the time he has on the field this year, but he feels Cliff could definitely play better. He also feels that once given the chance to return kicks we'll be able to see another side of Cliff's abilities. He told me about Cliff's first play in Pop Warner (turns out the opposing team tried to throw a pass to the RB in the flat and Cliff nailed him for a 7 yard loss... no turning back from there, Cliff was definitely going to be playing defense). He's gone to all of Cliff's games this year, and has been confident that when given the chance Cliff would be able to make plays, oh, and Cliff's family (3 brothers and 1 sister) still won't let him forget about the dropped INT against ASU. Mr. Harris knows that Cliff has things to improve upon; size, tackling, etc. But he's definitely a proud father and was gracious enough to help connect me with Cliff for a little Q & A session to be put up here exclusively on Addicted To Quack.
Q & A with Cliff Harris about the 2009 Season:
1. Were you surprised about how much or even that you got to play this year?
Well I mean, yeah I was surprised due to the fact that I came late and all that I even got the opportunity to play.
2. Did the coaches talk to you at all about maybe having to redshirt this year due to the fact that you did come late and were behind guys like Thurmond, Glasper and Jackson?
Yeah you know guys like Walt and Willie G, they go, they're definitely some good players. I was planning on redshirting the year, sit out and learn as much as I can from them with this their last year being there, but due to injuries, you know some people had to step up and I was ready when my number was called.
3. How do you feel you have played this year?
I ain't happy with my performance this year. I know I could have made way more plays than what I did.
4. Did you say you're not happy?
Nope. I feel I could do better, but we're still winning though and I'm glad we're winning. But I could do more and even though the (Pac 10) season is over I feel I could do more in certain situations. But it's a learning process
5. What situations come to mind?
Playing, just in the games. There was a couple of games that I had opportunities to make plays and I just didn't make them.
6. So are you going to hang up on me if I bring up the Arizona State dropped pick six?
Ha ha, no I ain't mad about that, but that's one of the opportunities I was saying that I could do better.
7. Did the guys on the sideline give you a hard time about that?
Ah you know, everybody gave me a hard time. People on the sidelines to the families to everybody. I had to hear it.
8. You're not going to let that happen again are you?
9. What do you feel were some of your personal highlight during the year?
I'd have to say my personal biggest highlight was the interception against Washington. But the overall highlight of my year is being in the Rose Bowl in my freshman year and contributing for us to be there, that is definitely the highlight.
10. Which wide receivers or quarterbacks in the Pac 10 do think scare you or do you fear going up against the most?
I don't fear anybody. I'm not afraid to go up against anybody. I'll battle Randy Moss right now [laughing]. I'll say my biggest challenge though was the receiving corps from Arizona.
11. Why is that, their speed their size or their hands?
I mean it was the whole way the game was going. They had speed and size, but it was their ability to just make plays.
12. Who challenges you the most on the Ducks?
Diante Jackson the up and coming freshman. He's legit. We didn't have to use him this year, because the rest of those guys were getting the job done and if it ain't broke don't fix it. But you know Diante, he snags everything. You got to go hard against him, cause he'll try and embarrass you and mock you. You don't want to get caught looking back, cause he goes hard all the time, so he makes me want to go hard all the time.
13. Some of the fans get caught up in who is the biggest rival, Oregon State or Washington. Who would you say is your biggest rival?
My biggest rival is SC. You know, they're all glamorized and Hollywood and I just want to shut it down. You know the Oregon, Oregon State is a big game, and I didn't really understand how big it was. But I got a [high school] teammate that plays for USC and he was doing a lot of smack talking before the game so I was really looking forward to that challenge that game.
14. You guys talk about the jersey's combinations, or what you might wear for the Rose Bowl?
Nah, Coach Kelly don't tell us anything, cause it might leak out to the public, so he won't even tell us. We just show up on game day and wear whatever uniform is in our locker.
15. How is school going for you this year?
I'm doing alright in school, I just finished my first semester with passing grades. I haven't really decided yet on what I want to major in, I'm just still trying to get the whole feel for college.
16. How is life in Eugene? What do you think of Eugene?
Eugene is crazy. It's different from Fresno. Everything about Eugene is based around the football team. They show us a lot of love out there. I mean it ain't nothing like Fresno, you can't compare nothing to Fresno. It's not better not worse just different.
17. How have some of the injured players like Thurmond and Glasper helped you this year?
You know the transition from high school to college and them being seniors and they've already went through the process, so they've been just giving me the heads up on how it was going to be. What the differences were, how I need to train, and how I need to get the job done. They've given me a lot of pointers.
18. How about Coach Kelly. How much do see of Kelly in practice, you on the defensive side of things and all?
I'm mostly with Neal and Aliotti. Kelly, he's definitely the spokesman of the team. You know he keeps an eye on things to make sure things are up and running. He'll go take a look at the defense, then go look over the offense, he's all over the place. He's never like physically in one spot, he's looking over the whole team.
19. What are your thoughts on Ohio State? Have you looked at much tape on them yet?
You know, I don't like to bust up my opponent, but I'd like to crush them. You know, they're definitely a good team, but we're coming ready for battle.
20. Have you looked at any matchups for you, or who you might have one-on-one in the Rose Bowl?
I'm going to match up with whoever decides to come line up on my side. Whoever lines up on my side, we're going to battle.
So there you have it. A twenty question interview with the one and only Cliff Harris. Cliff's had a great season for only playing in 7 games. He leads the team in broken up passes and had one interception. After talking with Cliff I get the impression that this is a confident kid, but one who is very grounded in reality. We also talked about his family and him being home for the holidays and he isn't worrying about football right now. He just wants to hang out at home. He's glad to be back from college and getting rested before heading to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl. His brothers and his father help him keep a good perspective on things.
We are truly lucky CH3 gets to play for the Ducks another couple of years. I know many fans are expecting great things from him in days, and years to come. Finally, I am officially on the LET CH3 RETURN KICKS bandwagon.
Thanks Willie and Cliff for your time.