When Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters saw Tyler Lockett streaking downfield with no defenders in sight, he knew he had an easy touchdown against the TCU defense — if he could get the ball to him, anyway.
(Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett catches a 74-yard touchdown pass from Jake Waters on Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Lockett finished with 123 yards on eight catches.)
With plenty of margin for error on a throw as simple and straightforward as they come, Waters delivered the deep ball to Lockett in stride and let the junior receiver do the rest.
“Just don’t overthrow it,” Waters said with a smile. “Just get the ball to Tyler. I saw the route, and I was banking on him getting open. The route was incredible — to get a guy like that off balance and just blow by him, what more can you say about Tyler right there?
“With that wind, I just wanted to get it to him.”
Lockett’s 74-yard touchdown gave K-State a 14-0 lead late in the first quarter, but after the Horned Frogs took a one-point lead with 2:13 left in the final period, Lockett capped his day with a pair of much-needed catches to help get the Wildcats into field-goal range for Jack Cantele.
“That’s something we rep pretty often throughout the week is that two-minute drill,” receiver Tramaine Thompson said. “We usually do it with some pretty harsh conditions, with little time on the clock and no timeouts, that’s what we usually work with. So to have a little bit of leeway with that clock and those timeouts, it made for a good two-minute drill for us.”
Lockett finished the game with eight catches for 123 yards, despite drawing a matchup against one of the nation’s top defensive backs in All-American Jason Verrett. It was Verrett who was fooled by Lockett’s double move, as he got tangled up and fell down, leaving the junior without a defender within 15 yards for the easy score.
“Things happen,” Lockett said. “I didn’t really think he was going to jump on it that hard, but luckily he did, and Jake saw it and threw it on time and everything worked out.”
A year ago, Verrett matched up with Chris Harper while Lockett played in the slot. Harper had just one catch for 62 yards in last year’s win against the Horned Frogs.
Lockett said matching up against Verrett offered plenty of challenge.
“He’s just very smart,” Lockett said. “You can tell that he watches film on his opponents — he knows exactly what people can do. Even going up against him, you know he’s great at guarding people, so you have to give your best off the block, you have to sell certain routes, whether it’s a double-cut or a different route. And you have to try and be physical at the same time.
“If you mess up and do something wrong, he’s right there to jump on it, so you have to be on top of your game.”
Lockett was on top of his game Saturday, hauling in more than half of the team’s 13 catches on a day when the K-State coaches anticipated the need to find success in the passing game against TCU’s physical rush defense.
“This is one of the best secondaries that we’ve played,” Lockett said. “We already knew going into it that they had the No. 1 defense in stopping the run, so we knew we were going to have to pass the ball a lot.”
K-State head coach Bill Snyder said both Waters and Daniel Sams were benefited by some good catches by Wildcat receivers, though he was less complimentary of the team’s tight ends. Zach Trujillo dropped three different undefended passes.
“I think (Lockett), and Tramaine, and Curry (Sexton), too,” Snyder said. “Each of them made plays that contributed immensely to the outcome of the ballgame. All three of them did.
“Now we put a lot of balls on the ground. Coach (Sen. Pat) Roberts’ tight ends can’t catch it, but outside of that, the guys mentioned really did a nice job.”
Roberts, who attended the game and the postgame press conference, is a Kansas State alumnus and is known as an adamant supporter of K-State better utilizing its tight ends.