Sunday, September 23, 2007

Above the rest: Kansas 55, Florida International 3

Talib TD sparks KU to victory

Kansas University cornerback Aqib Talib pulls in an interception with a smile. He returned the ball 100 yards for a touchdown against Florida International, and 6News sports director Kevin Romary deemed it the play of the game in the Jayhawks' 55-3 rout of the Golden Panthers on Sept. 22, 2007.

Kansas University cornerback Aqib Talib pulls in an interception with a smile. He returned the ball 100 yards for a touchdown against Florida International, and 6News sports director Kevin Romary deemed it the play of the game in the Jayhawks' 55-3 rout of the Golden Panthers on Sept. 22, 2007.


KU stomps on FIU

After a dominating 55-3 victory over the Golden Panthers, the Jayhawks are a perfect 4-0 to open the season.

Go figure

100 Length of Aqib Talib's school-record interception-return touchdown415 Yards of total offense by KU's Todd Reesing (368 passing, 47 rushing)8.2 KU's average yards per offensive play (for a whopping 75 plays)615 KU's total offensive yards (most since 641 vs. Jacksonville St. in 2003)3.5 Florida International's yards per offensive play (for 72 plays)1 Times Kansas was forced to punt6-for-7 KU's scores-chances inside the red zone0-for-1 Florida International's scores-chances inside the red zone

It has come to this: A single fan sitting in the west side of Memorial Stadium on Saturday used every bit of his voice box to scream a message at Kansas University cornerback Aqib Talib.

"One more year!" the voice echoed. "One more year!"

Don't get your hopes up, buddy.

Not if Talib continues to make plays like the one he had in KU's 55-3 victory over Florida International on Saturday. Talib set a school record by returning an interception 100 yards for a touchdown, though it probably was a yard or two more than that, even.

Talib made a leaping grab in the end zone for the pick, sprinted up the left sideline, cut across the field about the KU 30-yard line, straightened back out at the right sideline and waltzed into the right corner of the end zone to put Kansas up 47-3.

Four FIU players were sitting on the turf, defeated, when Talib finished making another case for being one of KU's best players in decades. The junior standout's fifth touchdown in five games - he plays a little offense, too - was the result of solid blocking and his running roughly 150 yards total, every step seemingly the correct one.

Talib has college eligibility through 2008, but it's highly probable the NFL will want him after this year. Talib's pretty much ready, too - plays like that just aren't something many college cornerbacks can pull off.

"I've had the good fortune to be around a lot of quality defensive players - All-Americans, first-round draft picks," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "I've got to tell you, that's one of the more impressive plays that I've seen.

"The people in the stadium tonight? They got to see a real treat."

Talib could've kneeled in the end zone when he intercepted it and given KU a touchback. It probably was the safe bet.

But, c'mon, this is Aqib Talib we're talking about.

"If I'm getting an interception, I'm bringing it out," Talib said. "I've got to."

Added Mangino: "If it's a guy wearing No. 3 out there for us tonight : he can run it out any time he likes."

Talib's dazzling return punctuated a highlight-filled nonconference season for KU. The Jayhawks finished 4-0 and dominated each one of their opponents with big plays and stifling defensive stands.

None of the four foes - Central Michigan, Southeastern Louisiana, Toledo and Florida International - had much of chance in Memorial Stadium this month. Collectively, they were outscored 214-23.

"I feel like we've been tested about as much as I wanted to be for the first four games," Mangino said. "This was the way we planned it with our team. We wanted to be 4-0, and there's a lot of teams that got tested in games they were supposed to win and ended up with a lower score.

"We didn't, and here's the key: We're winning the ones we're supposed to. There was a time here when that didn't happen."

Kansas scored a touchdown on each unit against the Panthers - a blocked punt that was pounced on by Dakota Lewis in the end zone, Talib's electric return on defense and five touchdowns on offense by four different players.

With Kansas up 41-3 after three quarters, KU quarterback Todd Reesing's night was done. With each game out of hand, Reesing still hasn't taken a snap in the fourth quarter of any game.

And yet, he continues to put up monster numbers. Against FIU, Reesing completed 23 of 37 passes for 368 yards and a touchdown. It upped his four-game, 12-quarter total to 1,199 yards and 11 scores.

But his play is no longer statistically perfect. Reesing threw his first interception of the year Saturday, an occurrence that was more unlucky than boneheaded.

Reesing found Talib open in the third quarter, but a vicious hit by FIU safety Ashlyn Parker knocked the wind out of Talib and sent the ball straight into the air. FIU's Cory Fleming caught the ball in the end zone for a touchback.

"I'm disappointed in the interception," Reesing said, "but the fact that I didn't misread something or throw a terrible ball to one of their guys, it kind of takes a little bit off that."

So even the errors have a "Yeah, but :" attached, which is a sign that KU's high-octane engine is warmed up nicely heading into Big 12 Conference play.

Kansas gets a week off before tangling with Kansas State on Oct. 6. Just enough time, perhaps, to find more ways to get Talib in the end zone.

Like he hasn't been there enough.

"Aqib's incredible to watch," tight end Derek Fine said. "How many times has he touched the ball and scored? Give that kid the ball."


scootja32 13 years, 5 months ago

1 comment so far that's it?

C'mon all you fairweather basketball fans. It's nice outside.

Kevin Long 13 years, 5 months ago

Maybe everyone was out celebrating a little late! I'm sure it will light up later today. Finally a 4-0 start. Anybody think KU will get a little love and get into the top 25? Some of these teams don't deserve to be in the top 25. KU has won the games that they are supposed to beat and bad.

justanotherfan 13 years, 5 months ago

I'm not sure KU makes top 25 until they win out in Manhattan to prove they can win on the road. Although, with all of the upsets yesterday, there is sure to be some movement.

It'd be nice to see Talib in Lawrence for one more year, but the way he is playing right now, that is becoming more and more of a pipe dream. He's looking like a pro playing in college, a man amongst boys. If he keeps this up he may jump from a third round possibility like they had him originally into the first round! Either way, that's great exposure for the Hawks or a standout returning for his senior year!

CasperCorps 13 years, 5 months ago

Can we get excited yet? Four blowouts? Didn't Toledo beat Iowa State yesterday? And FIU played Miami far better then Texas A&M? Anybody think K-State is nervous? Nebraska better be.. Missouri has no defense..

bmcmich1 13 years, 5 months ago

Count me in as one of the late celebrators! Man, that interception return was awesome. That's the only word I can think of to describe it. Plus, they showed the Tommy Boy clip on the videoboard which is always great.

I am not holding my breath on the top 25 because we really shouldn't think we will ever get any favors or gifts from the national media. Their line of thought is still "you beat Florida International. Big deal." What they probably didn't see was HOW we beat FIU. I am pretty excited about this season, but a part of me still reserves some judgment for k-suck in two weeks. Mangino still has to prove he can win on the road. We do that, THEN look for us in the top 25.

halvhawk 13 years, 5 months ago

I'm excited about the 4-0, but i am nervous about the game in manhattan. It would've been nice to get on the road in one of our first 4 games, like central michigan, just so we could get used to trveling and a different schedule.

That said, i really don't think josh freeman is looking forward to seeing us again, he couldnt do anything against us last year, hopefuly our improved defense will make it even worse for him. If we can pull it out, we should probably be 7-0 going into A&M, then NU coming to town, 2 games that could change the fortunes of this program. But lets beat Kstate first.

1977kufan 13 years, 5 months ago

Super nice article, but my reply will be more simple. Simply, outstanding coaching preparation and game plan, simply an outstanding offensive effort (do I really like the O line and the way they move the defense around), simply an outstanding D effort (Talib's return is a highlight on every step), simply a super special teams effort (a touchdown before the offense is even on the field and some fans haven't arrived) is my way of looking at the game. As you know, simple translates to 55-3. By the way did someone mention something about basketball? Gee, I am sure it is football season here at The University and I cannot hardly wait for the trip to Mancrappin. Rock chalk!!!

Bruce Rist 13 years, 5 months ago

Say what you want about the schedule but at least when we play a MAC team we win by 45 points not 1 like a certain team in Nebraska AND give up 600 yards of offense.

100 13 years, 5 months ago

I'm a late celebrater as well. As Phog Allen used to tell the football team (he was the KU football coach with some help from Naismith for a season which resulted in Memorial Stadium being built), "one game at a time". Reminds me of basketball season when we start out so strong -- fun to look at the rest of the schedule and think, "what if we actually prepare, wake up, get psyched, and play great, pumped up football each time out?" Look at the KU schedule. No Texas this year. No Oklahoma. If we really show up with a chip on our shoulder each and every Big 12 game this year, what if? What's our toughest game this year? K-state in Manhattan? Nebraska at home? Missouri at Arrowhead? Oklahoma State in Stillwater? If we take care of those tough road games (Missouri "home" game basically is), and the other Big 12 should win's (Iowa St, Colorado, etc), we will end up in the Big 12 championship game. Against Oklahoma or Texas. And what if, in that game, we pull some strings, get the ball to Talib as much as possible, play stellar defense, and somehow take care of the Big 12 South champs??? (heck K-state beat UT last year). What if? This is long term goal setting, mixed with dreaming, and it's good. This kind of "what if" thinking is good for us as fans and good for the players as long as they can refocus on the game at hand -- we haven't been able to think this way (realistically dream) about an undefeated regular season schedule since the late 60's. We could, no joke, end up in a BCS game -- and if we don't slip before the Big 12 championship game, and somehow take care of that game as well, we would be playing THE big one with a chance to win it all Jan 7 in the Superdome. And what do we do if that happens? Do we get nervous? Heck no -- we eat our powerbars, get psyched and get the ball to Talib a few times in his last game before the NFL...

actorman 13 years, 5 months ago

Let's not forget the offensive coordinator factor. What a difference it makes to have someone calling plays that you can't predict an hour ahead of time!

actorman 13 years, 5 months ago

I like your way of thinking, 100, and I've been fantasizing about KU going undefeated as well. The problem is with the ridiculous way a champion is determined. Because KU is not even ranked yet, we could go undefeated and still not have a chance to play for the title. If two teams that are ranked ahead of us go undefeated, they would go instead. When, oh when, will they have a playoff system, like every other sport at every other level??? Anyway, it would sure be a nice problem to have, wouldn't it?

sevenyearhawk 13 years, 5 months ago

the BlacksKirts gave up 600 yards at home to a MAC team, excuse me ...


KU wins in Manhattan by AT LEAST two touchdowns!!

justanotherfan 13 years, 5 months ago

actorman makes a good point. Rarely has a team that was unranked in preseason even had an opportunity to play for the title. The LOWEST ranked team to play for a title in the last 15 years was ranked something like 13 (Alabama I think, but I can't remember right now). Heck, Oklahoma could go unbeaten and be locked out if neither USC or LSU loses. I'm not so much focused on the BCS title as I am with winning the north. The north is there for the taking. Missouri plays no D, K-State can't move the ball, Nebraska is vulnerable in all facets at some point, Iowa St. is terrible, Colorado inexperienced and we don't play Texas or Oklahoma. The division is ours!!!!

swjhawk 13 years, 5 months ago

God, this is embarassing. If KSU beats up on the Hawks, I'll go back into my cave until basketball season.

William James 13 years, 5 months ago

hey swanhawk- Do everyone a favor and go into your cave now and dont come out. Its just killing you that we have an awesome football team, isnt it.

KU 33 KSU 27. I am the first jayhawk to reach the south goal post.

killabees 13 years, 5 months ago

6 votes in the AP poll (33rd total in votes)

20 votes in the USA today poll (30th total in votes)

We're climbing. A win at KSU would put us on the cusp (probably not in the top 25, but right there).

seattlehawk_78 13 years, 5 months ago

We actually moved up in both polls so we are getting some notice.

Two lost fumbles yesterday and 3 the week before. We can't continue with that trend and expect to win. On a more positive note, Reesing has thrown only 1 int against 11 td passes.

seattlehawk_78 13 years, 5 months ago

JBurtin, I believe your pick was 49-7. You were off by a whole touchdown!!!

I know you nailed the CMU and FIU games, just out of curiosity what were your picks for Toledo and SELA?

JBurtin 13 years, 5 months ago

I didn't have an internet connection for a week or so, so I've been crying in my beer that I didn't get a chance to make my predictions public except to my close friends.

against Toledo KU 48, Toledo 14 pretty darn close

I knew their offensive line was better than we had yet faced, which would equal more offensive production for them and limit our time on the field. The result, a slightly lower scoring total for us and a slightly higher total for them (as compared to the CMU game).

against SELA KU 63, SELA 0 one point off

I just figured up from what I had seen so far how many points our boys could score in four quarters when they were running what was essentially a practice game (probably about 80). But I also figured in the fact that Mangino wouldn't let it get so out of hand that he would continue throwing touchdown passes until we won by anything over seventy (he tries to keep it as classy as you can in a blowout). Sure enough we did nothing but run the ball up the middle the whole fourth quarter with all backups in and the result speaks for itself.

Man would I have had bragging rights for centuries if I could prove that I had made those predictions. What's worse, I mentioned that my 49-7 official FIU prediction on Kreem Keagan was probably a bit conservative. If you go back and look at my earlier comments, I had originally predicted that game at KU 57 FIU 3, only two points off!

I've been so spot on this year that my friends were joking last night that I'd better warn them when we're about to lose so it will cushion the blow.

I've got a pretty good idea what number I want to throw out for the K-State game, but I think I'll reserve it until after the Texas game. Not that the result of the Texas game will influence my prediction (unless someone important gets injured), but it just doesn't feel right to predict a game that is still two weeks away.

killabees 13 years, 5 months ago


If it makes you feel any better, I believe you. After all, why would anyone go back and make up score predictions on a a comment page where everyone's anonymous anyway?

sevenyearhawk 13 years, 5 months ago


I believe you ... I can't pick an exact score, but I have a feeling the Hawks will win by more than two touchdowns.

Can't wait to see what you say!

Commenting has been disabled for this item.