Auburn Tigers vs Kansas State Wildcats: Keys to Victory

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Dec 28, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; Kansas State Wildcats wide receiver Tyler Lockett (16) drops a pass in the end zone during the second half against the Michigan Wolverines in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn Can’t Let Tyler Lockett Beat Them

He might not get the respect he deserves because he is small in stature, but Kansas State wide receiver Tyler Lockett can make big plays. He’s done it against quality competition, and can even take over a game single-handedly.

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In the 2013 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Lockett put together a dominant performance that led the Wildcats to a 31-14 win over Michigan. He had ten catches for 116 yards and three touchdowns against the Wolverines, which was actually the third time that season in which he found the end zone on three separate occasions.

Throughout his career, Lockett has been an impact player. With a solid season in 2014, he can take over the top spot in the record books in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches.

Against Iowa State last week, Lockett helped the Wildcats take an early lead when he got loose and hauled in a 57-yard pass to set up the game’s first score. He also played a big part in the game-winning drive by making a leaping catch over a defender and getting his foot in bounds to push K-State into Cyclone territory. He finished the game with 136 receiving yards on six catches.

The All-American candidate has explosive abilities, and Dana Dimel will be sure to move him around the field to try and find advantageous matchups for the Wildcats’ offense. Auburn does not flip their cornerbacks from side to side, and instead play them in the field and boundary positions. That means that Ellis Johnson will not make an effort to put senior corner Jonathan Mincy on Lockett at all times.

Instead, expect Lockett to work primarily against less experienced cornerbacks like Joshua Holsey, Jonathan Jones and Trovon Reed. Dimel is also sure to utilize Lockett in the slot and try to force matchups with linebacker Kris Frost or Stars Justin Garrett and Robenson Therezie.

However he is used, and wherever he is lined up, the Auburn defense will need to keep an extra set of eyes on No. 16 at all times. The senior is explosive and fast, and plays bigger than his 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame. For the Tigers to win, they must force quarterback Jake Waters to either carry the load himself or distribute the football to his running backs and receivers other than Lockett.