Its hard out there for a Big 12 cornerback.In a conference full of innovative offenses and gun-slinging quarterbacks, the job of the defensive back can seem impossible at times. They have to play faster, smarter and tougher than ever before. And when they dont, they get embarrassed.In 45 conference games last season, Big 12 quarterbacks attempted throws of 20-plus yards more than 600 times. No other Power 5 conference comes close to matching that barrage. A year ago, the QBs in the conference produced 18 touchdown passes of more than 60 yards during league play. After just 15 games this season, there have already been 10.Only one Big 12 team (Baylor) ranks among the top 60 in FBS in pass defense. Everybody else is just trying to survive the week.Welcome to the island and the many challenges of playing corner in the Big 12.The challenge of being The GuyOklahomas Jordan Thomas had a hunch his junior season might play out like this.Hes arguably the best cover corner in the Big 12. He proved that with five interceptions in his breakout sophomore campaign. Todd McShay projects Thomas to be a top-10 pick if he comes out. But Thomas knew what comes with that hype.Its just what I expected out of this year of being The Guy, he said. Theyre going to see if he really is The Guy. Theyre gonna throw what they can at me.Thomas has nearly twice as many pass breakups this season (11) as any other defensive back in the Big 12. Hes also given up five touchdown passes. Comes with the territory.His game against Texas is a fine example of the boom-or-bust nature of the job. In the first half, Thomas shut down everything thrown his way. In the opinion of Bob Stoops, Thomas played as well as anybody thats been here. In the second half, Texas receivers outran him for scores of 63 and 45 yards.Thats how it goes. The great days can always get spoiled on one or two mistakes.I laugh about it, he said. Its not funny, but at the same time, youve just got to forget about it. Why complain, moan, cry about it? You just keep playing.Hes trying to help Oklahomas young corners learn that mindset. Four different players have tried to hold down the Sooners No. 2 corner job this season. For now, its true freshman Jordan Parker.Even if the young guys do everything the right way in film sessions and practice, they still need the right instincts come game day. As Thomas puts it, Bow your neck and be a player.Yeah, its difficult. Everyone loves to throw the ball around, he said. Everyone watches film. Whatever weakness you show, theyll attack it. When youre out there by yourself, you find out how good you really are. At the same time, its exciting and a fun thing to live in.The challenge of all these receiversOne thing that amazes Oklahoma State cornerback Ramon Richards about playing in this pass-happy conference: the variety of dangerous pass-catchers.These arent regular receivers, he said.Every day in practice, he has to face an All-America-caliber player in James Washington. Some days, they have to stop speedsters like Baylors KD Cannon, Oklahomas Dede Westbrook and West Virginias Shelton Gibson, who can run right past you. Other days, the 5-foot-11 Richards gets physical 6-foot-5 pass-catchers like Iowa States Allen Lazard and OUs Mark Andrews. The Big 12s leading receiver, Texas Techs Jonathan Giles, does his damage from the slot.And its not just the star power that bothers Richards, who has played in 31 games and grabbed seven career interceptions. Its the depth of these receiving corps.The Big 12 currently has 34 receivers with 200-plus receiving yards and 37 whove caught more than 15 passes. Sixty have recorded at least one catch of 30 or more yards. And their coaches are rotating all of them in and out frequently to keep them fresh.Were playing 80 to 90 snaps a game, and sometimes you do have to play every snap, Richards said. These guys are moving fast. You have no choice but to go the whole drive. You have to stay on your toes.The challenge of inexperienceWest Virginias defense held the most-prolific passer in college football to 10 points last week. Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes threw for 305 yards (his fifth-fewest in a Big 12 start) on 44 attempts before being pulled in the fourth quarter of a 48-17 loss to the undefeated Mountaineers. On paper, West Virginias cornerbacks shouldnt have stood a chance against Mahomes.Defensive coordinator Tony Gibson is relying on four former transfers -- Rasul Douglas (junior college), Antonio Crawford (Miami), Maurice Fleming (Iowa) and Elijah Battle (juco) -- and veteran backup Nana Kyeremeh to survive.Its a totally new group, Gibson said. Thats the one position where we had nobody coming back who played any meaningful snaps.How was going through an offseason with essentially a brand new group of corners?Very scary. Especially in this league, Gibson said. Maybe if we were in the SEC, it wouldnt be as bad. In the Big 12, you better have a whole stockpile of em.Gibson credits first-year cornerbacks coach Blue Adams with getting all five players ready to contribute. They had big shoes to fill after Daryl Worley -- now a rookie starter for the Carolina Panthers -- decided to go pro. There might not be as big a star in this group as Worley was, but theyre winning on depth and learning as they go.Theyve got to play with extreme confidence and, no matter how good or bad the last play was, move forward, Gibson said. Because stuffs going to happen to you in this league. Thats one thing we stress a lot.The challenge of getting beatTexas was supposed to have one of the best groups of cornerbacks in the Big 12 this year. Davante Davis and Holton Hill both earned preseason all-conference recognition after showing serious promise as true freshmen.Six games into the season, Davis is now a backup and Hill is mostly playing special teams. The Longhorns gave up 15 touchdown passes and 15 yards per completion over their first five games. Charlie Strong has had to make changes. And he doesnt make excuses for how hard it is to be a Big 12 corner.If you do your job, its not very hard, he said. The thing you cant do is give up the deep ball. You cant allow guys to run past you.Kris Boyd and John Bonney, the Longhorns new starters, didnt give up those bombs. Theyve gone back to basics: Keep the ball in front of you and make the tackle.Bonney, a sophomore, admits he didnt play with much confidence in the nickel spot last year. Now hes outside on the island, all by himself, against the conferences best. Hes trying to get comfortable in that role while knowing if he gets burned, someone else can take his spot. Hows that for pressure?I dont think its for everyone, Bonney said, or else everybody would be doing it.The challenge wont ever get easierAs one of the offensive masterminds making these cornerbacks jobs harder every week, Kliff Kingsbury can appreciate their plight. The high-tempo Big 12 offenses continue to evolve in ways that only further stress defensive backs.The fast tempo is a problem. The quarterbacks getting the ball out in just a few seconds is a problem. The popularity of quick screens and those easy access throws Kingsbury and so many other coaches utilize to build rhythm means a corner has to be able to think fast at the line and make tough one-on-one tackles. And when defenses start taking that away?Now youve got to take your deep shot and throw it over their heads, Kingsbury said, and then here goes some star receiver running as fast as he can.And with the touchy-feely nature (Kingsburys words) of how officials call pass interference these days, the risk-reward is in favor of taking that shot. The receivers chances of getting either a big catch or a big gain off a penalty make it all worthwhile. The job of the Big 12 cornerback isnt getting any easier anytime soon.My hats off to all the guys who play that position in this league, Kingsbury said. I dont think they get enough credit.I wouldnt want to play that position, I can tell you that much. Custom Fred Lynn Jersey . 10 Texas A&Ms offence dominated as usual against SMU. 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Banks told TSN on Jan 2 that he had no interest in playing out the option year of his contract with the Lions in 2014, and he again made that clear in a conversation with Lions GM Wally Buono last week. MIAMI -- Martin Prado continued his solid season with another four-hit performance.Prado had four hits, including a double, for the Miami Marlins in a 1-0 loss to the San Diego Padres on Saturday night.It was Prados fourth four-hit game of the season.Martins amazing, Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. I kind of talked about him all year long just being so steady and consistent. Hes that guy. I dont know where we would be really without -- we talk about those three guys that have been really steady for us and Martin has obviously been that guy on the field, a leader in the club house, and a guy thats really valuable to us.Clayton Richard (1-3) pitched a season-high seven innings for San Diego and allowed eight hits and walked one.He was outstanding, Padres manager Andy Green said. The sinker worked really well today. He is getting better. Command wavered a little bit the first time. After that he really locked it in.Richard struck out three and threw 63 of 94 pitches for strikes.I got into a good rhythm, Richard said. (Derek Norris) was so good behind the plate. I was able to really on him--the combination of that and our defense playing so well. They made a couple of good plays. When you have that type of defense and (Ryan) Schimpf in the lineup, its usually a good thing.Ryan Schimpf homered homered in the fourth inning off Jose Urena (2-5). Schimpf also homered Friday night and has 16 this season -- all since July 1.Its kind of been like that since I was little, Schimpf said of his power. I dont know why. I couldnt explain. Ive had a lot of good coaches along the way to help me out for sure. Right now its staying within the approach and get a good pitch when you want.Kevin Quackenbush worked the ninth, striking out two for his first save since Sept. 22, 2014, against Colorado.Quacks got a little heartbeat, Green said. He is who hes going to be every single time out. He executed his pitches after going 2 and 0 to Ichiro (Suzuki). The rest of the inning was very smooth for him.Urena (2-5) allowed one run and four hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck outt six and walked two.ddddddddddddI tried to keep the ball down and that was a pretty good game, Urena said.Prado led off the eighth with a hit off Jose Dominguez. Dee Gordon pinch-ran for Prado and was stranded at second after Brad Hand relieved Dominguez and retired the next three batters.The Marlins had two hits in the first and three in the second, but no runs to show for it. Robert Andino grounded out to Richard with the bases loaded in the second to end the threat.Obviously those are opportunities you hope that they dont come back and get you later and obviously tonight in a 1-0 game you think about those, Mattingly said.Miami was 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left eight on base while getting shut-out for the sixth time in their last 32 games.TRAINERS ROOMMarlins: RHP Andrew Cashner (blister) will be scratched from Sundays start and LHP Justin Nicolino will take his place after being recalled from Triple-A New Orleans. Cash has that little finger thing and it didnt seem to want to--we were hoping it would heal and it just stayed tender and wasnt able to get it to where we needed to go, Mattingly said. ... 2B Dee Gordon was held out of the starting lineup for the second straight game for rest. Gordon was held out Friday, but ended up going 0 for 3 after entering the game in the sixth. I felt like he was tired going into the game yesterday and then he ends up getting three at-bats, playing a lot of it and I felt like with a day game tomorrow I want him in there for sure, Mattingly said. I dont think he was very happy, but if that had been a normal game last night he would be in there today.UP NEXTPadres: RHP Luis Perdomo (6-7, 6.24) will start Sundays series finale. Perdomo tied a career high with seven innings in his last start against Arizona allowing one run.Marlins: LHP Justin Nicolino (2-5, 5.57) will take Andrew Cashners spot in the rotation and make his 13th start of the season, first since July 6. ' ' '