Mueller Steps Up
"Whatever he does, he does it extremely hard. If we're playing checkers, he's playing to win," linebacker Blake Slaughter said about his friend. "We could roll out Parcheesi right here, right now and he'd be in it to win. He's just a competitive guy."
That competitive spirit was displayed on the football field last night, and despite last night's 35-25 loss to Baylor, Mueller had an energy about him from the warm ups to the final seconds of the game that showed all who were watching that he was all-in.
Mueller's exceptional performance, highlighted by a sack and strip recovery on Bear quarterback Bryce Petty that had Wildcat fans on their feet, left head coach Bill Snyder and teammates with nothing but good to say about the hard-working defensive end.
"He played with that greater discipline," head coach Bill Snyder said after last night's game. "I said this last week, nobody plays harder than Ryan Mueller, nobody. Nobody practices harder than Ryan Mueller, nobody. You can play hard, but you have to have the discipline to do the right things, and I think he did that today. I thought he played very, very well in all aspects."
This season, Mueller has recorded a total of 23 tackles, and, after recording two last night, he has a team-high of four sacks.
His first sack of the game, where he knocked the ball away from Petty after the sack and recovered a fumble giving the Wildcats the ball on Baylor's 44-yard line, put K-State in position for a third-quarter touchdown and the team's only lead of the game.
"That's Ryan, that's just the way he plays," Slaughter said. "That's how he always plays. You always see him running at quarterbacks until they get out of bounds and then he laid out, took the ball from him and made a big play, but that's just who he is. He's a tough, tough guy, a never-give-up kind of guy, just the kind of guy you want to go to war with."
Senior safety Ty Zimmerman agreed that Mueller's effort last night was nothing out of the ordinary - it's just how he is both on and off the field.
"I couldn't have more respect for the way he approaches the game," Zimmerman said. "Not just on game days but every day in practice. He's an all-out effort guy every play, and I'm glad to have him."
In the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, Mueller recorded a six-yard sack on a Baylor third down and forced the Bears to punt.
Despite his stats, despite his effort and his passion, Mueller didn't look back at his performance last night as enough since the one stat that mattered - the final score - was not in his favor.
"I'm so focused on the team and doing anything I can to help the team, the goal is to win and that didn't happen," Mueller said. "It doesn't matter if you have 100 tackles in a game, if you lose, you lose. Statistics have no impact. We lost and we didn't get the job done, so it's extremely frustrating. I thought we played well against Baylor considering their prolific offense, but they made plays and we didn't."
But even before last night's game, even before Mueller made five tackles, two sacks and recovered the fumble, teammates noticed him stepping up into a leadership role early on this season.
"He's always been one of those guys you can lean on," offensive linesman B.J. Finney said. "He's stepped into a leadership role on the defense. The charisma and the enthusiasm that makes Ryan Ryan, he just brings that to the field and has used it stepping up into his leadership position. It's been awesome to watch."
Now, more focused than ever, fans can expect that same work ethic from Mueller game-in and game-out for the rest of this season. It's been his attitude all along, and it's not going anywhere soon.
"That's just something my parents instilled in me at a young age, to always give your best and have no regrets after you leave the field," Mueller said. "That's just something I've always done as a player and person on and off the field, anything I do, I just try to do it full speed and give 100 percent."
For a full recap of yesterday's game, click here.