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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Keegan

Keegan: Cornish virtually fired up

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After rushing for a career-best 201 yards to help Kansas University establish state supremacy over Kansas State on Saturday at Memorial Stadium, senior Jon Cornish rattled off a number of motivating factors before mentioning the No. 1 force.

Cornish talked about his mother's presence in the stands, senior day and the extraordinary energy of the crowd that witnessed KU's 39-20 victory.

He talked about the speech given by linebackers coach Mike Mallory, at the suggestion of head coach Mark Mangino, Friday night about his old college coach, legendary Bo Schembechler, who had died earlier in the day.

Cornish even mentioned his standing among KU's career rushing leaders. He moved to third on the single-season rushing list with 1,331 yards. He needs 19 yards to pass June Henley's 1996 total and 112 yards to pass Tony Sands (1991).

All true, and all secondary to his main source of motivation: Facebook.

Facebook? Let Cornish explain.

"K-State, for whatever reason, we have a lot of people coming here from there telling us how great their school is and such," Cornish said. "And on the social networking Web site Facebook, a lot of them end up sending me messages saying how much they hate me and various negative things. That only makes me want to destroy them more."

Facebook is hugely popular among college students, who even use it to make friends, and in the case of Cornish, enemies who exact revenge without saying or typing a word.

"They just told me how they didn't like me and how their team was going to destroy us and annihilate us," Cornish said.

Competing in an age when pressures are placed upon athletes to speak in platitudes and reveal little of themselves, Cornish doesn't sidestep questions the way he does tacklers.

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2006 KU-KSU football

"I think they thought after the Texas game they could come in here and destroy : I'm using that word a lot, sorry, thought they could come in and win," Cornish said. "Probably based on that, their performance was lower, and we came out as excited for a game as I've seen this whole season."

Cornish averaged 8.0 yards on his 25 carries. He rushed for a 13-yard touchdown in the first quarter and a 12-yard TD with 4:08 left. He had to negotiate his way past 12 bodies on the second score. The umpire on the officiating crew stood in his way after Cornish made a cut, so the 6-foot, 205-pound back from New Westminster, British Columbia, did what comes naturally to him. He knocked him over, however gently.

"I thought he was trying to tackle me," Cornish said. "I really didn't expect him to be there. I didn't want to throw him completely to the ground."

Kansas State looked like such a confident team just hitting stride in its shocking upset victory over Texas a week earlier in Manhattan. Cornish didn't view it exactly that way.

"I've always thought Texas never played well in the cold," he said. " It was really cold there, and Texas lost its starting quarterback. I did not change my opinion of K-State due to that game."

And what was that opinion?

"That we were going to destroy them," he said.

On a day the KU defense played its best game, Cornish also played a huge part in the destruction.

- To hear more opinions on the game, watch "The Drive," at 10:30 tonight on Sunflower Broadband Channel 6.

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