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Archive for Friday, October 5, 2007

Collision course

Talib figures to factor in defending K-State’s top offensive threat

October 5, 2007

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Jayhawks hoping history repeats itself

Last season, the Jayhawks defeated the K-State Wildcats after a bye week and a week after KSU defeated Texas. With similar circumstances surrounding this Saturday's Sunflower Showdown, KU hopes to get the same results as last year. Enlarge video

It's hard to believe now, but Kansas University cornerback Aqib Talib once was a wide-eyed newbie in the college football ranks.

In fact, he made his first start two years ago at Kansas State, with mixed results. A couple of days later, he spoke of his experiences to the media and came across as a painfully shy guy.

Honestly.

Talib's obviously come a long way. He vows that his second trip to Manhattan - for Saturday's 11 a.m. game against Kansas State - will be a little more productive than the first.

"It was crazy," the now-talkative Talib said. "It was loud there. I got a fade caught on me, a curl. I remember it like it was yesterday.

"Last time I was there, I didn't have a good game. Now I'm back. Let's go."

Talib, like always, will be an exciting player to watch in the much-anticipated Sunflower Showdown.

But he'd be even more must-see if he hangs around wide receiver Jordy Nelson the entire day.

The KU camp is secretive about their plans for containing Nelson, K-State's number one offensive playmaker who has 42 catches for 497 yards in four games.

The obvious answer seems to be to give the responsibility to Talib, an All-America candidate with two interceptions already.

But is it the final answer?

"If I told you that, then someone else is going to know," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "It wouldn't be smart to put strategy out in the public eye."

Mangino then added, "We're not going to make drastic changes to our defense."

But Kansas coaches do know where the ball is going to go. Nelson has caught 39 percent of K-State's completions so far this season. It'd be even higher except Nelson caught two other passes behind the line of scrimmage (technically making them runs) and has thrown two touchdown passes on razzle dazzle plays.

"I know that they throw the ball a lot to him," Mangino said. "They're not trying to make it a secret. It's pretty obvious."

Nelson, a small-town product from Riley, was offered nothing more than preferred walk-on invitations from both Kansas and Kansas State out of high school. He chose to stay closer to home and joined the Wildcats as a safety in 2003.

A move to offense by former KSU coach Bill Snyder proved perfect. Nelson's now the main guy that makes the chains move in Manhattan.

Going against one of the best corners in college football - even if it's just occasionally - is enough to make eyes fix on the potential scene.

"I would imagine that both players want the opportunity to play against each other, to match up against each other," KSU coach Ron Prince said. "Both would like to do real well. But because both players are so confident and experienced, I don't think either one of them is going to be awed by it."

Talib has made that clear. Soon after his first starting assignment against Kansas State in 2005, Talib became a household name by picking off an option pitch by Missouri's Brad Smith. He then handcuffed Iowa State receiver Todd Blythe in a KU victory that clinched a berth in the Fort Worth Bowl.

The success only helped. Talib came out of his shell to the media, and the cocky confidence he already had on the field became more of a nuisance for opposing receivers.

Nelson said earlier this week he didn't recall anything significant happening when Talib defended him a few times in last year's game. But he is expecting something more memorable this time around.

"With the position I play, depending on what formation I'm in, I might not be out there on the outside with him," Nelson said. "It'll be on and off throughout the game and may depend on what they decide to do. But if we get matched up, it will be fun."

And, perhaps, a delicious subplot to what's already a highly anticipated in-state showdown.

Talib, for one, is welcoming the possibility.

"If you're a receiver and you're putting up numbers in the Big 12," Talib said, "I'll be more than happy to play against you."

Comments

mae 7 years, 2 months ago

Don't let us down Aqib, I want to wear my KU gear to work on monday.

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