Saturday, November 17, 2007
Iowa State wide receiver Todd Blythe spent a little time at Big 12 Conference football media days over the summer getting some good-natured ribbing in toward KU cornerback Aqib Talib.
"I definitely had a little conversation with him last year and told him he got the day off last year," Blythe joked in July.
Blythe is healthy and ready for today's 2:30 p.m. game between Iowa State (3-8) and No. 4 Kansas (10-0), and that could lead to an interesting matchup between him and KU's secondary.
At 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, Blythe brings a size advantage to the table if anyone other than the 6-2 Talib is on him. While it's not necessarily a problem for KU, bigger receivers like Nebraska's Maurice Purify and Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant have had bright moments against the Jayhawks in part because of their size advantage.
"That's one thing I've had to do all year is guard bigger guys," KU safety Justin Thornton said. "I've had to guard a lot of tight ends, guys that outweigh me by about 50 pounds. I just use my quickness and my speed to work with them and everything.
"The bigger receiver is really not a problem. We've played against bigger receivers all year long. Oklahoma State : every one of their receivers were bigger than all of us."
It was good practice, then, for Blythe. A senior who missed last year's game against Kansas because of illness, Blythe caught five passes for 86 yards and a touchdown two years ago in Lawrence and had another touchdown catch reversed by replay.
This season, Blythe has 50 catches for 759 yards and five touchdowns, hooking up with ISU senior quarterback Bret Meyer as he has done his whole career. The two are roommates and have connected for 28 touchdown passes over the last four seasons.
As always, don't expect Talib to be on Blythe the whole game. It never works out that way, requiring smaller defensive backs like 5-9 Kendrick Harper to play larger than life at times against Big Blythe.
It's a tough task, but not an impossible one.
"You've got to disrupt them," KU defensive coordinator Bill Young said. "You've got to get them out of their stride, get your body up against them and all of that. Disrupt the timing of the route.
"If you allow free release and it's just timing, they jump up and catch it. But if you can get up against them and kind of break them down a little bit, then the ball may be overthrown or underthrown."