After getting back to winning ways against Iowa State a week ago, the Frogs will look to carry their momentum into a game against a streaking Kansas State team fresh off a win over Texas Tech. TCU comes into the game with a record of 4-6, while the Wildcats boast a record of 5-4. Here are three players to watch from each squad when the Frogs travel to Kansas State on Saturday.
Keys for TCU
Aaron Green, Sophomore, Running Back
With Waymon James and B.J. Catalon out against Iowa State due to suspension and injury respectively, sophomore running backs Aaron Green and Jordan Moore did an excellent job of carrying the TCU run game. Green ran for a career high 72 yards against Iowa State, bringing him to 207 total yards on the season in 10 appearances. Green has waited for his turn all year long and has made the most of the carries he has been given. He should have another opportunity to impress this weekend against Kansas State, as it is becoming increasingly unlikely that either James or Catalon will return.
Casey Pachall, Senior, Quarterback
When Pachall returned from injury three weeks ago against Texas, TCU fans were hopeful that he would create an offensive turnaround. As the last two games against West Virginia and Iowa State have shown, there has not been a great discrepancy between the play of Pachall and Treyvone Boykin. Pachall has been thrust back into the starting role with massive expectations on his shoulders. Last weekend against Iowa State, Pachall was 20-36 through the air for 245 yards. His two interceptions inside the Iowa State 25 yard line, however, were hard to erase. If TCU is truly going to make a final push for a ninth consecutive bowl appearance, Pachall will have to turn in two excellent performances against Kansas State and Baylor in the regular season finale.
Brandon Carter, Junior, Wide Receiver
As head coach Gary Patterson has said it many times before, junior wideout Brandon Carter is full of potential, but it is up to him as to whether or not he plays up to it. A week ago against Iowa State, Carter reeled in a team leading six receptions for 93 yards in his return from a leave of absence that saw him miss the West Virginia game. Carter has played well in flashes this season, and ranks third on the team in receiving yards with 290 through nine games. He seems to be peaking at the right time as the Frogs make a final push for a bowl appearance.
Keys for Kansas State
Daniel Sams, Sophomore, Quarterback
The Wildcats are committed to a two-quarterback system, but Sams’ athleticism makes him a more versatile weapon than his counterpart Jake Waters. It also allows him to play a key role in a run-heavy Kansas State offense. Sams has rushed for 675 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. The attention defenses must pay to Sams’ ground game creates opportunities for running back John Hubert to break free. Because of the Wildcats’ ground game, defenses have to play closer to the line of scrimmage, which allows KSU to use play-action to throw deep for explosive plays.
Tyler Lockett, Junior, Wide Receiver
Lockett is on the receiving end of many of those explosive plays. He is the Wildcats’ leading receiver with 48 catches for 702 yards and four touchdowns this season. Lining up primarily in the slot, Lockett utilizes his speed and quickness to get open. Lockett is also a dynamic kickoff returner. The 5-foot-11, 175 pound receiver is in the same mold as Oklahoma State receiver Josh Stewart. Stewart had a monster game against TCU four weeks ago, racking up 10 receptions for 141 yards and a punt return for a touchdown. TCU’s secondary could be without injured starters Jason Verrett and Elisha Olabode, which means Lockett could be in for a big day.
Ryan Mueller, Junior, Defensive End
Mueller has played extremely well as of late, earning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week two weeks in a row. The junior leads the nation in sacks (10.5) and is second in tackles for loss (15). He brought the quarterback down three times last week against Texas Tech and also forced a fumble. He will be matched up against Horned Frog left tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who has struggled in his first season as a starter. If Mueller is able to disrupt quarterback Casey Pachall’s rhythm, the TCU offense will have trouble scoring this Saturday.