Korn, not Harper, to start vs. Georgia Tech
Backup Clemson quarterback Willy Korn will start at quarterback in place of starter Cullen Harper on Saturday against Georgia Tech, interim head coach Dabo Swinney said on Monday -- a decision he said the entire staff was in agreement with.
"We're going to go with Willy Korn," Swinney said. "That's one of the things I told the players today. This is a game of performance, not potential. If you're the best guy, be the best guy. There's no hidden agendas here. ... The film doesn't lie."In addition to making the change at quarterback, Swinney also made staff changes, and firing offensive coordinator Rob Spence was at the top of the list. "The decision to move in a different direction from Coach Spence was mine," Swinney said. "I love Coach Spence. I've enjoyed my time with him. ... I've learned a lot of football from him, but this is a situation where if you're going to have a fresh start, it was time for change and moving in a different direction and that's what it boiled down to." Swinney said recruiting coordinator Billy Napier was promoted to quarterbacks coach and will assist him with the game-planning and play-calling. Swinney said "if it's a bad play it'll be my call. If it's a good play it can be Billy's call." Brad Scott will stay with the offensive line, and graduate assistant Mike Dooley was promoted to tight ends coach. Video graduate assistant Ryan Sulkowksi was moved to on-field GA, and graduate assistant coach Jeff Scott was promoted to help with the wide receivers. Video graduate assistant Daric Riley is now an on-field defensive GA. Swinney said he challenged both Korn and Harper in front of the entire team, but he agreed with former coach Tommy Bowden that the Tigers needed "a spark" and that Korn's pocket presence and ability to scramble will bring that. Harper, who has started each of the past 19 games for the Tigers, has completed 99-of-161 passes for 1,121 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions this season. Korn, the homegrown hero and the player fans have been clamoring for, has played in two games and completed 14-of-18 passes for 157 yards and one touchdown. Swinney said "it ain't all Cullen Harper's fault." "I believe Cullen Harper is an NFL prospect," Swinney said. "I believe he's going to play in the NFL. I believe that. But this is about doing it right here. We're going to give Willy a shot this week and we'll see what he does with it." Heather Dinich is a college football writer who covers the ACC for ESPN.com.