Kansas State's Tyler Lockett has UCLA defense's attention

Kansas State's Tyler Lockett has UCLA defense's attention
Kansas State wide receiver Tyler Lockett catches a pass during a win over Oklahoma State on Nov. 1. (Orlin Wagner / Associated Press)

There is a clear and present danger in the Kansas State offense.

Receiver Tyler Lockett's name pops up every time postseason honors are announced. That makes it easy for the UCLA defense to identify a hot spot in the Alamo Bowl on Jan. 2.


Lockett has 93 receptions for 1,351 yards and nine touchdowns. He was a first-team All-American choice by both the coaches and media.

UCLA defenders don't need the resume. They see what they're up against on video.

"His initial moves are very good and he goes zero-to-100 fast," UCLA defensive back Ishmael Adams said. "I see he likes to threaten defensive backs, especially on his curls. He likes to get past them and come back. He doesn't care if he has to come all way back to the five-yard line to get the ball."

So the plan is?

"You always have to know that the play is never over with him," Adams said. "You got to get a little ornery when he comes to your side."

Lockett is impressed with the UCLA defensive backs as well, and has a scheme in mind.

"They are physical and they are really good at the high point of the ball," Lockett said. "We have to work on not waiting for the ball to come to us. We have to be able to beat them in and out of our routes."

UCLA has seen its share of top-flight receivers this season, including Colorado's Nelson Spruce and USC's Nelson Agholor. Spruce had six receptions for only 63 yards in the Bruins' 40-37 double-overtime victory. Agholor was held to three receptions for 24 yards in a 38-20 UCLA victory.

Lockett provides a different kind of challenge.

"He has tremendous effort when it comes to going up for ball," UCLA defensive back Anthony Jefferson said. "You think the play is over and he comes up with a play."

Lockett is not a solo act for Kansas State. Curry Sexton has 69 receptions for 955 yards and five touchdowns.

Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder said that having two 1,000-yard receivers would, "be a neat deal." He has been as impressed with Sexton as with Lockett.

"I've seen him come through on a lot of things," Snyder said. "He's a young guy who didn't have a great deal going for him when he got here. He has worked hard, just like Tyler."

Then there is Kansas State tight end Zach Trujillo.


He has 19 catches and, UCLA Coach Jim Mora noted, "they always seem to be big ones."

Return policy

Lockett could hurt the Bruins in another way. He is considered the top punt returner in the nation. Lockett averages 19.0 yards per return and has taken two back for touchdowns.

"The guy does everything well," Jefferson said. "He's just a great athlete."

Matchup twist

UCLA at times used Myles Jack in coverage on USC's Agholor. While it was an unusual ploy having a linebacker on a wide receiver, Jack's speed made it work.

Jack didn't rule out a little face time with Lockett.

"If he is in slot, there is a high chance I'll be matched up with him," Jack said. "They move him around a lot. I'm sure there will be a moment or two where it'll just be me and him."

Preferred option

Kansas State is after back-to-back bowl victories.

"My first two years we experienced a loss in a bowl game," Lockett said. "You are then left with an icky feeling that stays with you.

"Last year, we beat Michigan. When you went home, all you could really do is smile."

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