The talk throughout the spring was about open competition.
First-year Missouri football coach Barry Odom didn’t release a depth chart and consistently said every job is up for grabs, including the quarterback spot.
It sure didn’t seem that way Saturday during the Black and Gold Spring Game, the annual intrasquad scrimmage that brings spring practice to a close.
Sophomore Drew Lock — a Lee’s Summit graduate who started the final eight games last season as a true freshman with Maty Mauk suspended — took the lion’s share of reps with the first-string offense and led two of the three touchdown drives.
All the usual caveats apply.
It was a scrimmage — a televised spring scrimmage, no less — so the playbook was vanilla, the intensity wasn’t as high as a regular-season game and the tempo from a play-calling standpoint was half-speed at best.
“Both sides had maybe page one of the playbook today, and that was good,” Odom said. “I wanted to line up and play hard, smart and tough.”
Still, Lock, who completed 9 of 13 passes for 134 yards with two touchdowns, looked exceptional.
“He efficiently ran the offense and didn’t try to press and do too much, which was exciting for me to see,” Odom said. “I’ve said it a number of times, his skill set is off the charts.”
Lock stood tall in the pocket, showed poise stepping up to avoid the rush and dropped dimes all over the field, including a play-action 3-yard touchdown to redshirt freshman Richaud Floyd in the second quarter and a 64-yard strike to junior J’Mon Moore in the third quarter.
“Reps on reps on reps — it’s crazy what it’ll do to you,” Lock said. “Practice makes perfect, and I think we’re feeling that today as far as me being comfortable with everything.”
Missouri was freewheeling with its offensive line, which was expected with only eight scholarship players available.
The Tigers also struggled to establish a consistent run game, netting only 88 yards in 30 carries — though senior linebacker Michael Scherer and the defense had something to do with that.
Scherer led the way with six tackles, including two for a loss, while defensive end Marcell Frazier and safety Ronnell Perkins added four tackles apiece.
Senior Rickey Hatley had a sack and two tackles for a loss.
On the bright side, junior running back Ish Witter finished with 43 yards in 13 carries, and the second-team offense, which was held without a first down in the opening half, found the end zone in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore quarterbacks Marvin Zanders and Jack Lowary combined to complete 1 of 9 passes for minus-5 yards in the first half.
Zanders got untracked in the second half, picking up a first down with a 14-yard bullet to senior Eric Laurent on his first snap.
During his next drive, Zanders completed all five passes for 64 yards in leading a 10-play, 77-yard touchdown march.
Zanders, who finished 8 of 13 for 83 yards, capped the drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to redshirt freshman wide receiver Justin Smith, who snatched the ball between junior cornerback Anthony Hines and senior safety Brock Bondurant with a leaping grab.
“We’ve been working hard and we made some strides throughout the spring, but we still have a long way to go,” Lock said.