Talib On Buffs' Radar

Is Kansas for real? It's a question on many Big 12 college football fans' minds. Players and coaches tend to think a little differently, though. Colorado is preparing to play a ranked and undefeated conference foe, so they're taking Saturday's game very seriously. Especially impressive — at least to CU coaches, on both sides of the ball — is Kansas junior Aqib Talib.

Kansas comes to Boulder Saturday (3:30 kickoff/ABC) sporting an unblemished 6-0 record, including at 2-0 conference mark. The Jayhawks are the only undefeated team in the Big 12, and one of only six undefeated teams in the country.

But many believe the jury is still out on the Jayhawks. After whipping four teams from non-BCS conferences (Central Michigan, SE Louisiana, Toledo and Florida International), Kansas beat Kansas State on the road and Baylor at home.

The "still has something to prove" vibe that surrounds the team shows up in the polls. Kansas is ranked just 13th in the BCS standings, 15th in the AP and Coaches polls, despite being unbeaten midway through the season.

The win at Kansas State, however, is enough to impress Colorado, a team that was blown out in Manhattan last week.

CU head coach Dan Hawkins called KU's win over instate rival K-State "a pretty big deal."

Hawkins said Tuesday you only have to look at Kansas' game film to be impressed with what they've done. He said they're very efficient on offense and solid on defense — a unit that sports several good players.

KU quarterback, sophomore Todd Reesing, burned his redshirt last season vs. the Buffs. Since then, he's grown as a passer, Hawkins said. Reesing has a passer efficiency rating of 153.18 and has thrown for 1,652 yards. He's thrown 16 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

CU quarterback Cody Hawkins added that the Kansas defense is very aggressive and has often set the tone for the entire Kansas team.

While it's easy to criticize Kansas' non-conference schedule this season, and understandable to wonder how they'll hold up as they continue into the difficult part of their schedule — after Colorado, they have away games at Texas A&M and Oklahoma State, plus a neutral-site game with Missouri on the docket — it's important to note the Jayhawks dominated their inferior opponents, always the sign of a good team. KU won its first four games by a combined total 214-23.

• One player in particular that's caught the CU coaching staff's eye is KU junior Aqib Talib. Dan Hawkins went as far as to say the staff thinks he's the best athlete they've faced this season.

Talib plays both ways for Kansas. The 6-2, 205-pounder is a first-team All-Big 12 candidate at cornerback, where he's picked off three passes, and returned one for a score. He also lines up some at receiver on offense. He has seven receptions. A modest number, except when you discover four of them have been for touchdowns.

Hawkins praised Talib's combination of speed and physicality. Asked if an offense game plans around such a defender, Hawkins said, "You have to be concerned a little bit, but you can't let one guy take away a whole side of your passing game."

• If the Buffs, 4-3 overall and 2-1 in conference play, are to beat Kansas and thereby keep pace in the Big 12 North, they'll need to clean up the penalty issue that cropped up last week in the loss to Kansas State. CU committed 10 penalties for 91 yards in the game.

Hawkins said the penalty situation wasn't a big concern, though. He said it hadn't been a big problem prior to the K-State game and didn't expect it to be a problem going forward.

• Turnovers, though, have been an issue. Colorado is minus-8 in turnover margin. They've committed 18 and caused 10. Kansas leads the Big 12 with a plus-9 ratio. They've taken away 18 and lost 9.

• Colorado changed its starting offensive line against Kansas State, and signs point to them staying with it Saturday. Senior Edwin Harrison moved inside to guard (replacing Devin Head), and freshman Ryan Miller took Harrison's spot at tackle. Miller played every snap, while Harrison played 58 snaps, Head 19.

Hawkins said Miller "did OK" in his first start. The big tackle got his first taste of trying to block a speed rush, that's for sure. Trailing the entire game, Colorado was in lots of passing situations. K-State knew it, widened their defensive ends, pinned their ears back and rushed Cody Hawkins.

• There's a sense among the players that it's good to be home after two road games. They feel fortunate to have the opportunity to play the undefeated, division-leading, No. 13 (BCS) Jayhawks at Folsom.

• Asked about the situation in Nebraska, where Nebraska athletic director Steve Pederson was fired on Monday, Hawkins said, "This is a whacky business. It doesn't always make sense. …You just have to take it for what it is. It's unfortunate — you never want to see someone lose their job. But it's Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. If you're not into that, you better not get into this business, because that's the way it's going to be."

• Saturday's game with Kansas falls on the annual Parents Weekend. CU officials expect roughly 6,000 parents of CU students at the game. As of Tuesday afternoon, roughly 4,500 tickets remained for the game.


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