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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Jayhawks plenty deep at corner

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FIU brings 15-game losing streak into Lawrence

Florida International has lost 15-games in a row and the Kansas Jayhawks are looking to push that streak to 16 after this Saturday's game.

Imagine the game-long disbelief Chris Harris experienced last week, as he ended up having a pretty uneventful night against Toledo.

You see, Harris is just asking to be picked on.

Kansas University's starting cornerback is a true freshman, lined up opposite All-America candidate Aqib Talib. He hasn't proven much at the college level, meaning he has given no reason why opposing offenses shouldn't test him at least a half-dozen times per game.

And yet :

"Last game, they threw at (Talib) six times. They threw at me once," Harris said. "I was wondering what was going on."

In some ways, he still is.

Harris said he's not exactly sure what's going to happen with his starting-cornerback job in the near future, considering junior Kendrick Harper is making his way back from an injury suffered on Aug. 3.

Harper, who was seen leaving practice Wednesday with a cast on his right wrist, could play Saturday against Florida International. But the timing of his setback puts the whole situation in an intriguing state.

Harper won the starting job opposite Talib in spring drills, then hurt himself on the first day of preseason practices. Despite the praise he earned in the spring, the Butler Community College transfer still hasn't played a down of Division One football, nor has he competed toe-to-toe with Harris, who arrived in the summer from Bixby, Okla.

With Harper out, Harris stepped in and has done nicely by all accounts, compiling 13 tackles. But it doesn't necessarily mean he's going to keep his job - nor is he a lock to lose it.

"I haven't seen (Harper) do anything on the field in six weeks," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "I can't make an assessment until I see him out there practicing full speed and understanding what his responsibilities are, his ability to leap and tackle, all those things. We'll see when he gets some good practices in him."

Harper started to practice on a limited basis last week, and his work gradually is expanding. Mangino said Tuesday that Harper is questionable for Saturday's game.

A good guess, then, is that Harper might get some limited work against Florida International, then be good to go for the Kansas State game two weeks later. Harris, meanwhile, likely will start his fourth straight game Saturday.

Still, Harris doesn't seem to be too concerned with how his individual role will be altered, perhaps starting Oct. 6 at K-State.

"Once he comes back, our secondary will be so athletic and deep," Harris said. "When it comes to me, Aqib and him and (Phillip) Strozier... we'll be a real athletic group."

Harris will be there somewhere, either as the starting cornerback, a nickel back or a valuable piece of depth as eight straight weeks of Big 12 games loom.

This much is known: Kansas doesn't play next week, yet it could be a critical point in the season for the Jayhawks' cornerback fleet - a fleet that's one man deeper with Harper's return.

"In that bye week, we'll get to jell," Harris said. "Once that happens, I don't see anybody really picking us apart with the depth that we'll have."

Comments

Displayhawk 13 years, 5 months ago

There's "Depth" and then there's "Quality Depth". We'll see how the secondary grades out when they start playing Big 12 Conference teams. It's interesting that one of our highest caliber recruits in recent years, Anthony Webb isn't even mentioned in this article. (Just for the record, Aqib Talib was rated by Rivals as a 2-star, while Anthony Webb was rated a 4-star.) BTW, Rivals had Aqib Talib as a featured player a couple of days ago. Good publicity for KU!

Jaminrawk 13 years, 5 months ago

I love the Hawk's defense this year, but how is the secondary supposed to "jell" during the bye week? Don't you jell during game action?

I agree with the comment on Webb. What happened to him? I actually thought that he was starting to develop nicely, especially in that K-State game last year. He was as good as Talib in that game.

killabees 13 years, 5 months ago

Right now, by my count, there are 31 undefeated schools in I-A. As a mental excercise, I went and tried to figure out how many will still be undefeated next week. Using all my football knowledge, I predict the following schools with still have a perfect record:

USC, LSU, Oklahoma, Florida, WVU, Cal, Ohio State, Texas, Rutgers, Penn State, BC, TAMU, Oregon, USF, Clemson, Bama, Hawaii, Missouri, Cincinnati, Arizona St., Purdue, Michigan State, and of course, Kansas.

That's 23 undefeated teams, the one I'm least certain of is TAMU at Miami. Anyone else have any predicitions? I'll post the results next week.

chezlog 13 years, 5 months ago

My prediction - A&M wins in Miami. I said a couple of days ago (on this site) that the Aggies overlook opponents but needless to say this will not be one of them. Nobody would overlook Miami at home. As a result A&M will be ready, Lane will roll, they will win, and they will gain the exrtra confidence that I'm expecting them to have when the Jayhawks go down there and beat them.

Dirk Medema 13 years, 5 months ago

The article is about the starting CB's so it should be talking about Talib, Harris & Harper. There is only one mention of any other DB (Strozier). Personally, I'm not ready to take the lockerroom comments of one player as an exhaustive analysis of the teams positional situation. It would seem a bit naive to think that they have gone this far with just 3 healthy CB's of significance.

As for the comparisions, I believe Talib redshirted, while Webb started as a true freshman, and finished the season playing well. I also seem to recall Talib being burned badly more than once at the start of his first season starting (2nd year), which makes me optimistic for the continued development of KU's secondary.

Talib is likely to be gone next year, which would seem to leave Harris & Harper with the starts. If Webb is then the backup (2+ yrs) and on nickles, that's fabulous. It also starts to provide continuity for future years when he could step in when Harper leaves, all the time battling future additions to the team for PT. Sounds like a the beginnings of a strong program (vs. one team for one season).

bmcmich1 13 years, 5 months ago

That's a great way of looking at it chezlog, let's hope it all plays out exactly like you say!

Displayhawk 13 years, 5 months ago

You make some good points Dagger108. I am also optimistic about our secondary in the coming years. I just thought it odd that Chris Harris, who is a true freshman is starting, and Anthony Webb, who started as a true freshman, is now on the bench. For the record, Chris Harris was a Rivals 2-star athlete coming out of high school. Just goes to show you that the ratings basically mean nothing! Two, three and four star players are so close in ability, that it is indeed a fine line between them! I would take Jake Sharp and B-Mac over Mizzery's 5-star Tony Temple any day!

bmcmich1 13 years, 5 months ago

I am 100% serious when I say that I have absolutely NO idea how rivals.com and the like function as legitimate businesses. All it is to me is pure speculation and hype, feeding off of gullible fans who have enabled this craze to snowball into what it is today.

I myself would much rather rely on the old fashioned method of coaches saying "this guy can play" as opposed to how many freakin' stars he has next to his name. As evidenced in above posts, we see how much faith you can really put in the 'stars.'

I can occasionally be a pretty opinionated person, and it may just be that coming out, but I think rivals.com and all those other recruiting sites are a bunch of malarkey.

Displayhawk 13 years, 5 months ago

I gotta agree with ya on that, bmcmich1

KUAlum2000 13 years, 5 months ago

The grading sites (like rivals) are pure fodder, but they are initially built on the grades given to players by their HS coaches and then built with stats. Its just a fun way to keep people occupied and keep chat rooms busy.

halvhawk 13 years, 5 months ago

i think they are fairly reliable, and they are not just for fans, i know for a fact that there are coaches out there that use them, not religiously or as their only point of reference. but they do use them, believe me. they dont, however, just recruit the top 100 players by rivals, they scout them themselves and watch endless hours of film. rivals is more just a reference. and they do have some information, and can be helpful.

the "stars" system is more just a guess of their future talent based on where they are, and the players estimated ceiling for development. regardless, mangino has been able to find numerous 2 and 3 star gems who have earned all conference over texas and oklahomas 4 and 5 stars.

Steve Tramba 13 years, 5 months ago

FIU ain't gonna come into the MS and start somethin.... this is our house!!! You don't come into the MS like that!!! I tihink I'm gonna have to come down outta the stands and get up in that mother!!! Come into the MS like that... man, who does FIU think they are... :)

Go Hawks!

bonus points for those that know the reference.

13 years, 5 months ago

That was funny, swonder44. Would it be the TV color commentator for the Miami vs. FIU game last year, Lamar Thomas? :) He used to play for Miami and had a little trouble not showing his bias during the melee.

Alan Halvorsen 13 years, 5 months ago

LOL! He got fired the next day didn't he?

bmcmich1 13 years, 5 months ago

U bet he did! I was living in South Florida at that time last year, so needless to say I heard that whole audio a time or two...funny, ol' Lamar managed to sound more stupid every time I heard it!

Alan Halvorsen 13 years, 5 months ago

haha thats funny! Here's a link for those of you who haven't seen it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrDWBW2S3Kg

Touching on a different subject now....When we win in Manhattan on Oct. 6th that will be the 13th year anniversary of when K-state tore down our goal posts in Lawrence in '94....

What do you guys say that we return the favor? Who will help me?

seattlehawk_78 13 years, 5 months ago

Okay we're deep at the corners but are the d-ends putting enough pressure on the qb? I know it's an obvious statement but if they don't apply pressure to the quarterback it doesn't matter how good the corners are. That seemed to be the problem last year, at least in the games I saw.

Someone help me here as I have yet to see them play this season.

rolo2383 13 years, 5 months ago

I think we are getting a little better pressure than last year but last year we weren't getting any pressure at all. We still don't have an end that can fly off the edge and apply a ton of pressure.

sevenyearhawk 13 years, 5 months ago

watching that video STILL makes me sick at my stomach ...

just wait Hawks fans, I'm sitting on that K-State fan photo that will knock your socks off!

sevenyearhawk 13 years, 5 months ago

so 1969 to 1994 losing in Lawrence, that's 25 years?

http://cfbdatawarehouse.com/data/div_ia/big12/kansas_state/opponents_records.php?teamid=1606

Last time KU won in Manhattan was 1987 (and 1985 was a TIE, was the the Toilet Bowl-era, seattle?)

So twenty years ago this season was the last time the Hawks won at K-State ... I think that's long enough!!!

13 years, 5 months ago

Cool website, sevenyearhawk. Thanks for the link. A "W" on October 6th would sure be nice...

sevenyearhawk 13 years, 5 months ago

funny the things i find online ...

yes, a W on 10/6 will be great!

Beak 'em, Hawks ...

William James 13 years, 5 months ago

seattle- Through the first 3 weeks we havent gotten enough pressure on the QB, not even close considering our competition. I think this is my biggest area of concern for this team.

bmcmich1 13 years, 5 months ago

It is a big concern, I agree...

I am also a little worried about Rai Rai Pendleton fielding punts (notice I say fielding, not returning!). It's one thing to muff two against Toledo, but there is no room for that kind of stuff in a tight game on the road, such as, I don't know...AT K-suck in two weeks??

Whatever his problem was, let's hope he's figured it out 'cause it will make me physically ill to lose that game because of a special teams cough-up.

William James 13 years, 5 months ago

Im a little suprised he hasnt been fired yet. Remember Murph got fired last year for the same problem. Jimmy Dean- Your damn right Im with you. The post on the south side of the stadium is coming down on the 6th and I plan on being the first Jayhawk to reach it. I was a little kid and was there 13 years before when K-State took our goal posts to the lake. Oh, how sweet October 6th, the 13th anniversary of one of the worst days of my childhood.

sevenyearhawk 13 years, 5 months ago

fabio, bmc, et al ...

I'll be with you in Manhattan in spirit, unfortunately I have grad class that weekend, and my wife probably wouldn't care to come bail me out of jail ...

I do have a KU hardhat that might come in necessary, maybe I'll loan it to fabio!! :D

seattlehawk_78 13 years, 5 months ago

Given the problem they had last year in pass defense it would have to be mine as well Fabio. I'm a little less worried about the sloppy play last week because I think those are mistakes than can be fixed.

killabees 13 years, 5 months ago

Imagine my surprise when I go on cbs.sportsline.com's football page and see a big pic of Aqib Talib. They have a pretty neat article about him.

http://www.sportsline.com/collegefootball/story/10362820

Here's the football page

http://www.sportsline.com/collegefootball

JBurtin 13 years, 5 months ago

I don't know what games everyone else has been watching but the pass rush has been doing very well all year.

We don't have the incredible off the edge defensive ends this year (we've been spoiled for a few years now), but our guys are doing a good job. To help them out Bowen has unleashed the Defensive tackles to pass rush instead of staying at home to defend the run as we have been able to do for the last several years. They compensate for this by having two big middle linebacker sized guys in to shut down the runs.

The only reason you're not seeing more sacks is that teams are figuring out within the first few downs that they aren't going to have time to throw the long ball. They are sticking to the short stuff to negate the effectiveness of a pass rush, but our D backs have had such good coverage that the QB's have had to throw the ball out of bounds over and over again for fear of throwing an interception.

All of this of course becomes harder when you are playing against better athletes, but we have been extremely assignment sound and all signs are positive for a good year defensively.

JBurtin 13 years, 5 months ago

BTW,

I actually find the fact that K-State tore down the goalposts to be quite flattering. You only do that when you really respect the team that you have just beaten.

Take my advice

Don't give K-State the satisfaction of thinking that we respect them!!!

Our road record has been lousy for the last few years, but our new offensive system doesn't require the team to hear the QB. It doesn't matter how loud "The Bill" gets, our offense should run as normal, and since they have a terrible offensive line, our defense will look very similar to how it has against our first three opponents.

The talent has shifted in the state and this game won't even be close. Cheer for your team and hold your head high as you walk out of the stadium with a win. Be sure to congratulate K-State fans on playing a good game against us and wish them luck for the rest of the season.

Nothing is more painful than to lose to a CLASSY program and have them patronize you afterwards as if the game was never in doubt!!!

Show some class and it will rub it in even harder.

Alan Halvorsen 13 years, 5 months ago

By the way, I'm watching the A&M game right now. I'm putting that one in the win column for us. Man they suck....if we beat ksu I don't think we'll loose, ever.

Alan Halvorsen 13 years, 5 months ago

Seriously though, all A&M is running is that option. Or sometype of play that revolves around Mcgee running the ball. If you look at KU's history of dealing with offenses like that look no further than Missouri's own Brad Smith. We owned him! Also if you look at last years game with A&M we dominated Mcgee and that offense too. The only problems we had with A&M was our own offense! Our defense was on the field so much cause we could never muster a first down thanks to Barmann.

Now if you look at our offense it is by no means a weak spot. Also the aggies haven't been very good at home lately. ALSO, when you look at the schedule A&M plays at Tech, then at Nebraska, then us. Then they play at OU, then at Missouri. Can you say trap game!!

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