The conversation is always the same when Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton meet on the sideline between drives. They remove their helmets and ask each other a simple question: How can we exploit the defense when we get the ball back?
The Kansas State senior receivers are often joined by quarterback Jake Waters and coach Bill Snyder. Together, they try to take the Wildcats’ passing game to a higher level.
One might imagine Lockett and Sexton spend the majority of these meetings campaigning for themselves, but the opposite is true. Sexton regularly pushes for formations that will spring Lockett loose. Lockett is thinking of plays that will showcase Sexton.
“They complement each other,” Snyder said. “What I appreciate about them so much is that they are bright young men. They understand that they have a capacity to understand, schematically, the things that we do and what someone would do on the other side of the ball. They piece those things together.
“They are more than guys that can run routes and catch footballs. They are both just great young men.”
They are also the top statistical receiving duo in K-State history. With 60 more yards by Sexton, they will become the first pair of K-State receivers to top 1,000 yards in the same season. Lockett already has 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns, putting him on pace to shatter every major career receiving record in program history. Sexton is in the middle of a breakout year in which he has grabbed 67 passes for 940 yards and five touchdowns.
The closest any other duo has come to hitting 1,000 yards in the same season was Darnell McDonald (1,092 yards) and Lockett’s uncle, Aaron (928 yards) in 1998.
Only six K-State receivers have topped 1,000 yards in a season. For two to do it together, well, that once seemed unthinkable. It took an unselfish combination of skilled players to create the possibility.
“Lockett wants it to happen more than I do,” Sexton said. “He and (receivers) coach (Andre) Coleman have been all over that all week long. ‘Man, you got to get this many. You got to get this many.’ It would be really special. I didn’t know that that had never happened before, but it would be pretty cool. It would be something to always remember.”
The march toward a memorable statistic began in practice. Sexton and Lockett arrived at K-State at the same time, expecting to redshirt. But coaches took one look at Lockett and labeled him a first-year starter. Sexton played so well behind the scenes that coaches asked him to contribute immediately on special teams and help as a backup receiver.
Lockett gave Sexton tips on getting open out of the slot. Sexton taught Lockett how to read every move a defense makes.
They rose up the depth chart together, building a friendship along the way.
“We love each other,” Lockett said. “We want the best for each other and we aren’t even selfish about what happens. We are just capturing the moment.”
They are pushing each other, too.
Their best games often occur simultaneously. They have topped 100 receiving yards in the same game three times this season. And they are coming off a blowout victory against Kansas in which Lockett had 119 yards and two touchdowns, while Sexton had 141 yards and a score.
“When you see somebody make plays, it makes you want to make a play,” Lockett said. “Seeing Curry go out there, catching pass after pass after pass, it’s kind of like, all right, I see you. When I get my chance I’m going to go with it. We just feed off each other.”
Waters has watched their friendship grow from a front-row seat. He shares an apartment with Sexton and rooms with Lockett before road games.
With two games remaining – at Baylor on Saturday and a bowl game – he plans to help Sexton gain 60 more yards and push his top two receivers into uncharted territory. All he has to do is keep passing the way he has all season.
“It’s awesome when they are on the same side of the field,” Waters said. “That is tough. Pick your poison with what you are going to do, because they can do so much with their routes. Tyler has incredible speed and Curry, the way he runs his routes, always getting open, it is easy for me. I just have to get them the ball.”
They should both get the ball Saturday. The Wildcats may have to throw more than usual to keep up with the Bears’ high-flying offense.
But it sounds like Baylor would prefer K-State run the ball.
“You have to be aware of where (Lockett) is at all time, and Sexton, too,” Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett said this week. “They’re two of the better receivers in the Big 12, probably in the country.”
Bennett won’t get any arguments from the Wildcats. Lockett and Sexton have produced statistics no other receiving duo in K-State history can match.
“They are the best,” K-State defensive back Morgan Burns said. “They are both so different. Lockett is really explosive and his speed is tremendous. A lot of people might look at Curry and not think he is very impressive, but his knowledge of the game and his effort are so good. I have never seen him drop a ball. Curry and Lockett are two guys I’m glad to have on my team.”
No. 9 Kansas State at No. 5 Baylor
When: 6:45 p.m. Saturday
Where: McLane Stadium, Waco, Texas
Records: KSU 9-2, 7-1 Big 12; BU 10-1, 7-1
Radio: KQAM, 1480-AM; KWLS, 107.9-FM
Three things about Baylor
1. Bryce Petty, one of the nation’s top quarterbacks, will play against K-State after suffering a concussion last week against Baylor. Bears coach Art Briles said this week Petty passed concussion protocol and is ready to go.
2. The Bears rank first nationally in several offensive categories, including scoring. They average 340.2 passing yards, 240.9 rushing yards and 49.8 points.
3. Baylor is coming off its worst dfensive performance. It allowed 712 yards and 46 points to Texas Tech in a narrow victory in Arlington, Texas.
K-State’s offensive line vs. Baylor’s front seven. The Wildcats have to establish a running game against the Bears. They can’t win if they don’t. Sure Baylor, surrendered 609 passing yards to Texas Tech last week while the Red Raiders tried to finish off a furious rally, but that’s not the way K-State plays when it is at its best. Bill Snyder’s offense thrives on its balance. Running the ball keeps Baylor’s offense off the field and allows K-State’s defense to rest. Moving the ball on the ground and winning time of possession will be a must.
Kellis Robinett’s pick: Baylor, 40-28
The Wildcats have lost their last three games at Baylor and haven’t won in Waco since 2002. This doesn’t seem like the time for that streak to end. Baylor’s offense appears too strong for K-State to keep up with.