KSU's Mueller picks good time to step up
Published on -9/21/2012, 10:26 AM
By ARNE GREEN
Special to The Hays Daily News
MANHATTAN -- It didn't take a quarterback sack for Ryan Mueller to make a name for himself as a pass-rush specialist.
On a Kansas State team that struggled all last year with pressuring opposing quarterbacks, he often lined up out of position at defensive tackle in passing situations, hoping to force the issue.
"I'm maybe 240 pounds, soaking wet -- maybe," Mueller, a 6-foot-1 sophomore, said with a smile.
He's listed as a backup defensive end and this year is getting plenty of work spelling senior starters Adam Davis and Meshak Williams. But Mueller still lines up inside on occasion, as he did almost all the time last season.
"It just depends on the situation, I guess," Mueller said of his interior line play. "When Meshak or Adam is tired, I'll go in on the outside and if it's a position where it's long distance and Joe Bob (Clements, defensive ends coach) thinks I can get a sack or some pressure to the quarterback, that's when I'll go (inside).
"I just try to give it my all on every single play."
Center B.J. Finney, who regularly goes against him in practice, joked last year that the red-headed Mueller plays as if his hair is on fire.
That tenacity finally paid off in a tangible way last Saturday in the second quarter of K-State's 35-21 victory against North Texas.
With the game tied at 7-7, and North Texas driving, he took quarterback Derek Thompson down for an 11-yard loss that also took the Mean Green out of field goal range.
"It's a good achievement, and I'm glad we got them off the field," Mueller said of his first career sack. "All the credit definitely goes to Meshak.
"He pushed the quarterback to my side and the quarterback ran to my side, so I just had to make the play."
Williams also had his first sack of the season and Davis his third against a North Texas team that had not allowed one in its first two games. After failing to register a sack in the season opener against Missouri State, the Wildcats have taken off, collecting five against Miami, and now lead the Big 12 with eight.
They also had 10 tackles for loss in each of those games. The Wildcats had 23 sacks all of last year in 13 games to rank sixth in the league and finished with 63 tackles for loss.
"Any time you're getting sacks, fumble recoveries, turnovers, big hits, tackles for loss, that's going to fuel the defense big-time," Mueller said.
The No. 15-ranked Wildcats (3-0) face another challenge Saturday when they open Big 12 play at No. 6 Oklahoma (2-0) and senior quarterback Landry Jones, a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate.
As for Mueller, there's no secret to his success, especially when he lines up at tackle.
"Mueller is a scrapper," said defensive tackle Javonta Boyd, who also had a big game against North Texas with four tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. "He gets after it and that's what we love about him and that's why we like him on our team.
"He never gives up on a play and always runs to the ball, and that's what makes Mueller a special person."
Mueller who walked on in 2010 after an all-state career at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park. After his performance last year as a redshirt freshman, he finally went on scholarship this fall.
As for his dual role as a tackle or end, it's all good.
"Any role that's presented to me, I'd love to flourish in it," Mueller said. "I don't think it matters how big you are.
"I try to beat guys with my speed and quickness and studying them on film and seeing what they're weak at."I try to attack from those points."