With Baylor Bears junior quarterback Bryce Petty scrambling for the sidelines, K-State junior defensive end Ryan Mueller was in fast pursuit. As Petty was just a few steps away from escaping out of bounds, Mueller dove in one last ditch effort to bring the quarterback down.
In his attempt, he reached out, stripped the ball from Petty and took it from him, giving the Wildcats the ball back in the third quarter. The Wildcats capitalized on his fumble recovery with a touchdown that put K-State ahead 25-21.
“The corners gave me enough time to get to the quarterback,” Mueller said. “The quarterback rolled out, I moved out to my side, and then I just saw the ball. It was right in front of me, and I just took it.”
That play was both one of the best individual efforts by anybody on the team this year, and a game changing play at the time.
But if you ask football head coach Bill Snyder, that was just Mueller being himself.
“Nobody plays or practices harder than Ryan Mueller, nobody,” Snyder said.
While Snyder praised Mueller for his effort against the Bears, Mueller was simply disappointed that his team had lost.
“It is extremely frustrating as a team,” Mueller said. “We just have to go back to the film room and correct our mistakes. We have to be able to practice, and apply everything coaches say to us. Doing things right will help us win games. We tried to make them one dimensional. They just got us on a few big plays.”
What he said he was most disappointed about, though, is that he wasn’t able to get retribution for the team’s upset loss to Baylor last season, which cost K-State a shot at a national title.
“I just remember the feeling I had last year playing Baylor, it was devastating last year,” Mueller said. “I tried to play for the seniors last year. I wanted to dedicate the game today to them. I am sorry we could not get the win. I know each and every one of last year’s seniors was watching the game today. I just tried to carry last year’s feelings to this game.”
Mueller has established himself as one of the Big 12’s best defensive linemen. He’s currently second in the Big 12 with four sacks, third in tackles for loss with 7.5, and one of just six players in the league to record a multi-sack game with two against Baylor.
His ability to knock down passes at the line of scrimmage is also something that stands out. Mueller is currently 15th in passes defended in conference games with three. Nearly everybody in the top 20 of that list is a defensive back.
But it’s not enough for Mueller. In his mind, he said he still sees room for improvement in the defense as a whole and in himself as well.
After the Wildcats 33-29 loss to the Oklahoma State Cowboys, Mueller talked about how K-State let the game slip away.
“We just had mental collapses with the little things and the penalties,” Mueller said. “Those just really hurt us early on but we were still in the position to win the game. We feel like we beat ourselves tonight. Oklahoma State has great players and great coaches, but we feel like we left one out there on the table to win and we didn’t get it done.”
With the Wildcats sitting at 2-4, they have to win four of their last six games to be bowl eligible. Their next game is at home in two weeks against the West Virginia Mountaineers, where Mueller said he certainly hopes he and his teammates can make the necessary adjustments and pull out their first win in four tries.