If Drew Lock is going to continue dropping bombs like he did Saturday against Eastern Michigan, Missouri should install an air-raid warning system at Memorial Stadium.
Lock, a sophomore quarterback from Lee’s Summit High, dazzled in dismantling the Eagles to the tune of a Tigers record five touchdown passes on 24-of-37 passing for 450 yards, the third-most in a game in program history.
Eastern Michigan’s shell-shocked secondary was battered by four completions of at least 35 yards — including touchdowns of 36, 87 and 52 yards.
Through two games, Lock ranks fourth in the country with five completions of at least 40 yards, which already surpassed Missouri’s total of four such completions last season.
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Dissecting film after the West Virginia loss with new Mizzou offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, Lock said he was often too timid with his decision-making yet too hurried with his delivery, which affected his accuracy.
“We watched the West Virginia game and literally slow-moed every deep throw that I had and kind of picked a part a couple things,” Lock said.
Footwork, Lock said, was the most-noticeable flaw. He was sliding his front foot back and crow-hopping into long throws.
Lock said Heupel’s advice was to have faith in his arm, telling him, “You can make the 60-yard throw without hopping into it. You can just plant your back foot and throw it. You’ve got enough arm strength to do it. You’ve just got to trust yourself.”
Lock did, and the results were a nearly unprecedented aerial assault for Mizzou football.
Lock’s 450 yards were the most by a Tigers quarterback in a victory, and his career-high 211.6 quarterback rating was the eighth-highest for a single game in program history.
“He’s still got a lot of work with his feet in the pocket,” Heupel said. “He’s come a long way, but he’s still got a long way to go. … He did a much better job with his deep balls in week two. It’s been a point of emphasis during the week leading up to that ball game.”
First-year Missouri coach Barry Odom was impressed with Lock’s improved accuracy, singling out a third-down bullet to the sideline he put on redshirt freshman Johnathon Johnson’s hip and the 52-yard touchdown to sophomore Ray Wingo Lock nestled between two defenders.
“He put the ball exactly where it needed to be,” Odom said. “At this point in his career, Drew is expected to do those things, not just put it in an area. He’s expected to put it on a body part.”
Growing up, Lock spent more time playing basketball — and emerging as one of the top shooting guards in the Midwest — than playing football, but more nights like last Saturday are expected as he sharpens his QB skills under Heupel’s tutelage.
“You chip away at it every day,” Heupel said. “This is a hard game. To me, it’s the hardest position in sports, because there’s 21 other pieces that are moving really fast and you have about 2.2 to 2.8 seconds to get the ball off and be accurate with it and know where you’re going. It’s hard.”
Lock made it look easy against Eastern Michigan and hopes to carry that momentum into a tougher matchup against No. 16 Georgia’s veteran secondary at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
“It’s kind of like riding a bike for the first time,” Lock said. “I’m in tune with it now and I can keep doing it forever, so hopefully we can keep it going. … Now that I realize if we just play aggressive, there’s no limit to what we can do with the ball, that’s how I’ve got to approach every week.”
Certainly, Lock has earned the trust of his teammates and coaches, who never doubted such a breakout was coming.
“I hope we’re sitting here next week talking about how he’s continuing to get better,” Odom said.