There is no doubt that the injury to senior Karl Joseph will be felt by all, but his leadership role will continue. He was spotted in the coaching booth wearing a headset on Saturday. There is no replacing Joseph, and red-shirt Junior Jarrod Harper does not want to try to do so, he just wants to win for him.
“Our motto for today (Saturday) was to just go out there and play for Karl. Play for 8. Hopefully we made him proud as a defense, so that’s what we tried to do,” Harper said after the loss to OSU.
“We have different games. I’m not trying to go out there and be Karl. I’m trying to go out and play my own game,” Harper said about being the one to take Karl’s spot. “I feel like if I try to be Karl, I’ll be thinking too much, making too many mental errors. So I just go out, get comfortable, get that first play jitters out of the way-it’s go time from there.”
After the over-time loss to OSU, Dana Holgorsen was pretty quiet about Harper’s performance “I thought he did okay. I have to go back and study it because there is 50 other guys I have to jeep track of out there as well, but I thought he stepped in and played okay-that’s what I saw.”
In Harper’s career so far, he has played in 25 games adding depth to the safety position, but primarily played on special teams. His 2013 season, his red-shirt freshman year, Harper was named to the Academic All-Big 12 Conference Second Team, along with tallying 13 tackles, including nine unassisted tackles, a sack and a blocked punt.
In his first career start, Harper tallied six tackles and two pass breakups. He played 80 some snaps against Oklahoma State where has had only played in 93 defensive snaps last season.
Going from backup and special teams to being a number one guy, Harper thought his conditioning was good, “My conditioning, I think was good overall throughout the game. 80 some plays is a lot of plays, but I think my conditioning was good.”
Joseph was known for not missing many plays, so from playing back up to Karl to starting against a top 20 Big 12 opponent was a huge shift for Jarrod Harper, “I mean, it’s definitely a bigger shift to take on a bigger role obviously, but I felt good- I feel comfortable where I am at- I feel comfortable with what I am doing out there…”
Harper has learned a lot from Karl Joseph’s leadership, “You learn so much from Karl, just watching him on tape and how he works. His work ethic speaks for itself, but I mean I feel like I have the same kind of work ethic. I work hard, I feel like. But I mean Karl brings that physicalness and tenacity, that some players don’t always bring. He takes the game personal, plays with a passion, and you have to play this game with passion.”
In preparation for the rest of the season Jarrod Harper believes the defense will be alright, “This past week was a crazy week. You never expect something like that to happen,” Harper said about the injury to Karl Joseph. “…That’s a big loss and we are going to miss him throughout the season, but as long as we keep stepping up each and every week, each and every day in practice and stuff and we will be alright.”
Despite not being able to be on the field, Joseph has stuck to his leadership role and had some encouraging words for his teammate. Harper commented on some positive words that Joseph had said to him, “It’s my time now and this is what I have been working for. He told me I was ready…”
career and OSU game stats courtesy of wvusports.com.