Cliff Harris is Dangerous
Cliff Harris is dangerous.
He’s dangerous because when he’s out on the field you don’t know what he’s going to do. At times he is reckless and is a risk to the overall turnover margin of the team. He’s a lot like Maverick from Top Gun in the sense that he’s dangerous, but that’s why he’s so exciting.
When Maverick first showed up to Top Gun and during their introduction meeting, he has this exchange with flight instructor Viper:
Viper: In case some of you are wondering who the best is they are up here on this plaque. Do you think you’re name will be on that plaque?
Maverick: Yes sir.
Viper: That’s pretty arrogant, considering the company you’re in.
Maverick: Yes sir.
Viper: I like that in a pilot.
Sounds familiar right? Like the time Cliff Harris in his introduction meeting informed the entire team that he was there to, “Lock shit down.”
The only reason we saw Cliff Harris in the 2009 season is because injuries plagued the University of Oregon secondary. In his first memorable play he picked off Jake Locker in Seattle. His responsibility was to cover the receiver in the flats, but he said he felt where the ball was going and went to cover the receiver going deep. At this point, Locker could have made the smart play and gone to the flats, it wasn’t too late, but instead he went deep, where Cliff Harris was waiting. Cliff Harris made a great play on a play he shouldn’t have made, and after a mistake the coaches probably made a big point out of in their next position meeting.
In 2010 Harris had a much bigger role. He became a starter on the Oregon defense, and as the backup for Kenjon Barner on punt returns he scored two touchdowns against New Mexico. Against Tennessee he had a pick six that helped blow the game wide open. He even picked on College Football’s Jesus, Andrew Luck, twice, once on a deep ball and the other by out jumping a Stanford receiver in the end zone. He was the biggest difference maker against Cal, returning a punt for Oregon’s first touchdown of the evening in the third quarter.
At times his playmaking ability turns in to big plays for the other team. Against Arizona he got blown deep twice, either on a blown coverage by him or a feeling he got to move to a different part of the field other than his assignment. On punt returns he feels he can take every touch to the end zone. I have never before seen someone try to sprint while fielding a fair catch, realizing they past the ball, and then try to reach back and grab the ball with one hand. For every play Harris made that caused people to “ooh” and “aaahh” there was a moment where he caused a face palm.
Coaches and fans will critique Harris for not playing as part of the system all the time. He will overstep his boundaries just like Maverick did. But secretly, everybody loves what Cliff Harris does. Maverick does fly by’s in front of the control tower, and Cliff Harris feels the need for speed, and by speed going at least 118 milers per hour southbound on I-5 at 4 in the morning (He allegedly told Darron Thomas that when that baby got to 88 miles per hour, he was going to see some serious shit). People may overly criticize his playmaking abilities, but that my be a cover up for their undying affection for him, much like how Charlie says that Maverick’s performance in flight is, “an example of what not to do,” only later to have this exchange with Maverick in front of his house:
Maverick: Jesus Christ, and you think I’m reckless? When I fly, I’ll have you know that my crew and my plane come first!
Charlie: Well, I am going to finish my sentence, Lieutenant! My review of your flight performance was right on!
Maverick: Is that right?
Charlie: That is right, but I held something back. I see some real genius in your flying, Maverick, but I can’t say that in there.
What makes Cliff Harris unique is the risks he’s willing to take. In an era of super-caution on the field and making things safe, Cliff is a dangerous whenever he gets on the field. When he sits back deep on a punt return you can hear Autzen get really loud in anticipation, louder than normal. When the kick is off and Cliff is waiting, the stadium gets incredibly quiet. Literally, everyone is holding their breath waiting for Harris to do something cool, like return punts. Whenever a quarterback throws in the general area of Cliff Harris people are expecting something big to happen. And as one parting shot with one of the best fifteen movies ever made I leave you with this:
Iceman: Wow, you guys really are cowboys.
Maverick: what’s your problem, Kazanski?
Iceman: You’re everyone’s problems. That’s because every time you go up in the air, you’re unsafe. I don’t like you because you’re dangerous.
Maverick: that right! Ice… man. I am dangerous.
Harris makes plays that are unbelievable. It could be him breaking five tackles in route to a touchdown, or fumbling on his two-yard line while trying to field a punt one-handed, using his hand to cover his eyes. Cliff Harris guarantees exciting plays whenever he’s out on the field.
Cliff Harris is dangerous, but that’s why he’s so good.