Wichita native Chris Harper is off to a relatively quiet start at Kansas State. The redshirt sophomore wide receiver has grabbed three passes for 37 yards this season, and is yet to take the field as a starter.
But he has added much needed size, depth and talent to the Wildcats’ receiving corps. He feels like a breakout game could come at any moment, and hopes it can come against Nebraska on Thursday.
Harper may have spent his freshman season at Oregon, but he learned a thing or two about playing in big games while on the West Coast, and knows how important this rivalry is to the K-State fan base.
This week he talked about all that and more.
Growing up in Wichita, what are your thoughts on this rivalry?
It’s been a great rivalry. Nebraska and Kansas State has been huge. I hear about that all the time. All the great players Nebraska has had and the really good teams that have come here. Kansas State has beat a lot of them.
Does it mean anything extra to you now, knowing that this is the last time Nebraska will play K-State as a Big 12 opponent?
It might mean a lot to fans, but I want to go out there and win every game. I want to go undefeated. That’s the goal. Win the Big 12 and win the North. I don’t really think I’ll look back too much on beating Nebraska the last time they came to Kansas State. I just want to win.
Have the Cornhuskers lost much on defense now that Ndamukong Suh is in the NFL?
They’ve been playing well on defense this year, they haven’t given up a lot of points. They have a lot of athleticism and speed in a lot of different positions. They lost Suh, but they have a lot of guys coming back that are good and just filling in for what he did last year.
Do they have a weakness?
We see weaknesses. We’ve been watching them for a week and a half now. I think we’ve picked out what we want to attack.
What is your role in K-State’s offense right now?
My role is the same as all the receivers, really. We need to make big plays when the ball comes to us and we get the opportunity. Me being the player that I am I want the ball every play, just like every other player on the field. The ultimate outcome is getting the win.
How have you enjoyed your time at K-State so far?
It’s been good. I get to see a lot of my family. I’ve got something like 20 people coming to this game. I’m still trying to get tickets. It’s been good. I get to go home a lot and see my family and friends.
Is that something you missed at Oregon?
Yeah, I missed it. My mom and dad actually came to a lot of games and came to the bowl game and things like that. But I still wanted to be around more of my family. A lot of my friends are still here and a lot of guys come up and visit. I’m really happy to be back. I missed that when I was gone.
Do you still keep up with Oregon at all?
I watch them. I talk to them. I talked to some of their players yesterday.
What do you think of the Ducks’ hot start?
They’re doing exactly what I thought they would. Like I said when I left, I thought they were going to win the Pac-10 Championship, and they won that.
They just played in a big-time game against Stanford. You’re about to play in a big-time game against Nebraska. How do you think Snyder Family Stadium will compare to Autzen?
The atmospheres will be very comparable. I’ve played there and I’ve played here. Both are very electric atmospheres. Everybody will be watching. It’s a Thursday night game on ESPN. I think the games are very comparable.
Do you think K-State’s offense has improved since the start of the season?
I would say so. We are kind of finding ourselves. We didn’t do what we wanted to do last game as far as the running attack, and we had to open it up a little more with the passing attack. We found out we were balanced unlike everyone was saying. Being in those difficult situations has helped us out a lot.
Do you have a prediction for Thursday?
I really don’t look too much into it. There’s just a big task ahead of us. They’re a top 10 ranked team. If we go in there like we do every week and be confident in ourselves we’ll be fine.