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Foes to Know: Kansas State
Texas Tech travels to the Little Apple on Oct. 4 to take on Big 12 foe Kansas State in Manhattan (KS). The good news is Tech will have a couple extra days to prepare after playing in a Thursday game the previous week. The bad news is the Thursday opponent is Oklahoma State which means the Red Raiders will have difficult back-to-back road tests against teams who handled them in recent years. The Red Raiders are 5-6 against the Wildcats since the inception of the Big 12 and have dropped the last three meetings after winning the previous five. Offensive Player to WatchNAMEPOSCLASSHOMETOWNHTWTSCOUTTyler LockettWRSRTulsa, OK5-11175Joe Yeager In wideout Tyler Lockett, Texas Tech will face not only an outstanding receiver/kick returner, but a very strong candidate for Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year honors. And Lockett is living proof that bloodlines matter—his dad Kevin holds most of the K-State records Tyler will attempt to break in 2014, and his uncle Aaron is fourth in receptions and receiving yardage as well as second in career punt return yardage for the Wildcats. I suppose one could say Tyler Lockett was destined for greatness. The latest Lockett certainly has a stack of pre- and postseason hardware in his closet. In 2013 he garnered first team All Big 12 honors from everybody who matters, as well as second team All America accolades from Phil Steele and the Football Writers Association. Heading into the 2014 season, the Sporting News, Athlon and USA Today have all tabbed Lockett as a first team All American, while Lindy’s and Phil Steele slot him as a second-teamer. Obviously, to cop those types of plaudits, one has to produce the numbers and Lockett has done that. Last season he hauled in 81 passes for 1,262 yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging 15.6 yards per grab. Those are salty numbers all the way around. He also averaged 26.5 yards on 22 kickoff returns, so if he doesn't gouge you one way he may gash you the other. Naturally, Lockett has good speed, but he has other assets to go along with the speed. First, he is murder on deep routes largely because he gains separation at the very end of the route. A DB may blanket Lockett for the first four fifths of the route, but he will very often disengage right at the end. Lockett also adjusts very well to the ball and has excellent hands. And while one might expect Lockett’s slight frame to be a liability against physical press coverage, Lockett is so quick off the line that cornerbacks have a difficult time getting a good jam on him. All in all, Lockett is an extremely dangerous weapon in Bill Snyder’s arsenal. Defensive Player to WatchNAMEPOSCLASSHOMETOWNHTWTSCOUTRyan MuellerDESRLeawood, KS6-2300Jarret Johnson It didn't take a lot of research to find a Kansas State defensive player to single out as Ryan Mueller was the only choice. The senior defensive end was recently selected preseason All-Big 12 by the media and he was no-brainer after the monster season he turned in a year ago. Mueller was selected by the coaches as the Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year, named first team All-Big 12 by both the AP and the coaches and was tabbed as a second team All-American by CBSSports.com, the Football Writers Association of America and Phil Steele. The former walk-on tied a Wildcats season record with 11.5 sacks (second in the Big 12 in 2013), plus recorded 18.5 tackles for loss (second in Big 12) and forced four fumbles (fourth in Big 12) to go along with 62 tackles. To make matters worse for the Red Raiders, Mueller had by far his best game of the 2013 season in Kansas State's 49-26 victory in Lubbock. The 6-foot-2, 245-pound lineman tallied five tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble en route to garnering Big 12 Player of the Week honors. With all that said, how can the Red Raiders try and neutralize him? For starters Davis Webb at quarterback will help. Though he was yanked during that game for Baker Mayfield, Webb was only sacked once while a twitchy Mayfield was dumped four times and threw a pair of picks. Perhaps making sure a back is always on Mueller's side to help with a chip block will help, but make no mistake, he will have everyone's attention the week leading up to the game.
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