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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Safety pushing Talib

Thornton has as many picks, half the snaps

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2007 KU Football Press Conference Nov. 13

It's on now.

When Kansas University cornerback Aqib Talib intercepted his fourth pass of the season Saturday at Oklahoma State, it was reminder to many of the All-America resume Talib continues to build on the football field.

But all it did in Justin Thornton's eyes was tie the two for the team lead.

"We've been battling," said Thornton, a sophomore safety. "Ever since it got close, and ever since I caught up with him, we've been battling. We had a little competition, a little side bet to see who would get number four first. It's pretty fun."

Well, Thornton got his fourth first, picking off a Joe Ganz pass against Nebraska on Nov. 3. But Talib's answer of a Zac Robinson pass on Saturday means the race is back on, a 4-4 tie with at least three games left.

"Just a little side bet," Thornton said with a smile. "Just to keep the competition going."

Talib will get his picks, having intercepted 10 in his last two seasons as KU's shutdown star.

But Thornton is keeping up with Talib in half the opportunities this season. Though Thornton started Saturday because of an undisclosed injury to Patrick Resby, his role in KU's first nine games was as a specialist in passing situations. It has amounted to about 40 snaps a game recently - more than a nickel back, but less than a full-time player.

Whether Resby is back or not, Thornton will play plenty Saturday when No. 4 Kansas (10-0) and Iowa State (3-8) clash at Memorial Stadium.

"My goal is to start. I wouldn't be here if I didn't want to start," Thornton said Tuesday. "But I feel like the time to work for the starting spot is in training camp and the offseason."

So Thornton accepts his job, which likely will go back to a specialist role when Resby is healthy again. After all, Thornton gets plenty of opportunities to make plays, as his four interceptions show. He has 25 tackles and six pass breakups to go with the picks, and his 10 passes defended ties him for sixth in the Big 12 Conference (Talib leads the league with 15).

"He played corner in high school, so he has good cover ability," safeties coach Clint Bowen said of Thornton. "He's a good pass defender guy. He understands zone coverages and route reads. He's an athletic guy and covers some ground."

Kansas has tried to find a way to get Thornton on the field ever since he was signed out of St. Joseph (Mo.) Central High in 2005. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder was recruited as a cornerback, then was moved briefly to wide receiver, back over to defense as a safety, over to receiver again, and finally back to safety.

That versatility means something: He's athletic, with good hands and a nose for the ball.

"Just a good all-around player," Bowen said.

Thornton now is a crucial part to KU's undefeated run, providing the Jayhawk secondary depth that just wasn't there a year ago.

On the side, he has a little interception competition going with one of the country's best defensive backs in Talib. Not bad for a guy with one start this season.

"I feel just as much as part of the defense as the starters. My role is just as big," Thornton said. "With Patrick out last week, I had to come in and play the whole game in a starting role. It didn't feel much different - I've always felt like I was a big part of this defense."

Comments

flipborder02 12 years, 4 months ago

Talib would be a better DB if he could deffend the pass better. He is a great run deffender though one of the best.

12 years, 4 months ago

flip - - nice copy and paste job on your post. Yeah, even though Talib leads the league in passes defended, he really could do a better job. If he doesn't get better soon, Mangino should bench him. Being "a great run deffender" is not what we need from a starting cornerback.

kuelguapo 12 years, 4 months ago

i get what flip is saying - something i've echoed before. talib reminds me a lot of champ bailey b/c he's not afraid to come up and make a hit in the run game... but to say he's not a good pass defender is pretty ridiculous. i think he gets burned sometimes b/c he plays too aggressively - he bites on quick moves a little too much. ::shrug:: definitely fixable....

Chris Shaw 12 years, 4 months ago

I completely disagree with Flip's comments. Talib is a terrific corner all the way around. Talib allowed two touchdown passes against Nebraska and those passes were perfect and not a bad catches from Purify. Sometimes excellent "D" does get trumped and there wasn't really much Talib could do on those passes against Nebraska. The same goes for Okie State game. When Talib knocked over-confident Bowman out of the game, Freshman Bryant made an unbeliveable catch against Talib. Before every play, the offense always has the advantage and I would say Talib b/c of his abilities basically erases that advantage. Talib, keep doing what you're doing on Pass Coverage

troutsee 12 years, 4 months ago

You guys don't know what you are talking about. He is a great cover corner. He has been "burned" by perfect passes. Both of our corners need to improve on those "jump ball passes." Make no mistake about it, Talib is an excellent corner.

Michael Leiker 12 years, 4 months ago

Bench him tex? You really mean that? Seems a little much. There is some risk/reward involved with Aquib, but you can basically throw out Purify's one handed catch in the back of the end zone, that won't happen again while he's at KU. Other than that, so he's had 4 touchdowns thrown on him. I would maybe like to see him change his strategy a little and not be some quick on anticipating things and jumping routes so that he can improve things over the top just a tad, but don't think he will need to be benched.

jayhawkr34 12 years, 4 months ago

just my observation, our db's are all very very good. the one thing i have noticed though is against a run quarterback or high profile running back we tend to overplay the run and get burnt on long passes by the recievers getting behind our coverage. just my observation. 10-0 hard to find very many weaknesses, but always room to improve as any coach would say. go jayhawks!!

12 years, 4 months ago

My apologies to troutsee and leikness. Further analysis of my post dictates I should have made my sarcasm more evident.

I could not disagree more with flip's post. There is no way Talib should be benched. I have been defending him to his doubters all season long - - especially after the NU game. I made the exact same point about Purify. His first TD catch against Talib was a push-off as well. I think he is the best cornerback in the Big 12.

Sorry for the confusion :)

KUFan90 12 years, 4 months ago

Good lord. Do you people really have that much trouble identifying a bait post like flipboarder's and sarcasm like txrockchalk? Think people think!!!

flipborder02 12 years, 4 months ago

All im sayin is Talib could do a little better job on the pass deffense I never said he was bad. He has just got burned a few times, example two TD for Purify in the Nebraska game both over Talib. And if he wants to live up to what every one sayin about him being the best corner he cant let that happen.

(He is still one of my favorite players though)

Kevin Long 12 years, 4 months ago

Every corner takes thier lumps. It is one of the hardest if not the hardest position to play in the game. He has been burned a few times, but the college game is a lot different than the pro game. Do you really ever see a DB not get thrown at in college? The offenses are to unpredictable. It's not like the boring NFL where they all run pretty much the same offense. I bet Talib will have a good NFL career. And i'm sure the scouts are still looking at him as much as they were early in the year, they just have other people to look at now too.

Michael Leiker 12 years, 4 months ago

Sorry tejas, I haven't used the first weapon of modern man in a while (the second being wit). I hear ya now.

Michael Leiker 12 years, 4 months ago

By the way, I have an aquib talib jersey substituting for the passenger seat of my Exterra, so I kinda get a little testy when I hear any bad press on my boy.

12 years, 4 months ago

No problem, leiky! I appreciate your passion as a KU football fan and support of Mr. Talib.

100 12 years, 4 months ago

An Iowa State fan has predicted a "one sided beating" of Kansas this weekend at Memorial Stadium. It is on a CBS message board -- one of the last comments at the bottom of the attached page -- his username is ISU-MAN94

http://www.sportsline.com/mcc/messages/board/4764210

34_5_20_nbaTitle 12 years, 4 months ago

KU football has a much better chance to win a title than basketball. Man that's as hard as it is to say as it is to swallow but come on. Mostly awesome for 100 years and 4 title (really only 2 count). Suck for mostly 100 years and we're basically in the elite 8. Win 1 ISU, Win 2 Slave Traders(MU), Win 3 OU, Win 4 - Title - KU football. Hate to say it, i mean i really really hate to say it, but the b-ball team has let us down so many times it's unbelieveable! The football team has never let me down, and i don't expect it this year. Truth be told, even if we lose this week i won't be dissappointed. What a ride we've been on all year, segments on ESPN Outside the Lines, 1st & Ten, First Take, Sports Center and College Sports Gameday. All for good things too! KU basketball mostly makes those programs after a loss they shouldn't have had.

Any way, back to teh point. The readers poll here on kusports. Who will win it 1st? KU Football, only because it's played in Jan rather than Feb! That's the only reason.

P.S. Plus the let down factor.

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