Campus Corner

Ask Tod: Drew Lock’s biggest concerns after his big game and realistic expectations

Missouri Tigers quarterback Drew Lock.
Missouri Tigers quarterback Drew Lock.

Missouri sophomore quarterback Drew Lock had a pretty significant concern regarding his breakthrough 450-yard, five-touchdown performance Saturday against Eastern Michigan.

“When you throw a touchdown, you kind of just space out and literally have no idea what you did after,” said Lock, who tied a Tigers record for TD passes in a single game. “You just get too excited. I wanted to see what I did on film … wondering if I was going to look like an idiot after some of the touchdown throws because of whatever I was doing in the field.”

There were fist-pumps toward the sideline, jogs to meet a receiver and even a “What just happened?” gawk toward the sideline with both arms extended at his sides after redshirt freshman wide receiver Johnathon Johnson took a bubble screen 87 yards for a touchdown.

Nothing there to be embarrassed about, especially on a night when Lock threw more touchdown passes than he during his entire true freshman season.

The best part of the night for Lock? Throwing all five TD passes to players who’d never caught a collegiate touchdown before.

“Coming to the sideline and seeing all smiles from the guys, that was probably the coolest part,” Lock said. “A lot of guys were happy about the way we played and having a blast.”

After that breakout performance, Lock does have one legitimate concern.

“One of the things is probably mentally not getting complacent coming off a game like that, with a lot of guys putting up numbers that they never have before,” he said.

The road gets tougher — much tougher — this week as Mizzou opens Southeastern Conference play against No. 16 Georgia at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Columbia on the SEC Network.

The Tigers are 1-4 all-time against the Bulldogs, including two losses in meetings on Faurot Field, and haven’t scored a touchdown since 2013 — a span of more than eight quarters and 122 minutes of game time.

Lock made his first career road start last season against Georgia, going 11 of 26 for 143 yards with four carries for minus-16 yards, including a fumbled snap at the goal line on the Mizzou offense’s first play that proved pivotal.

He hasn’t forgotten and hopes for redemption.

“I don’t know necessarily that it was too big of a moment, but it was rather large,” Lock said of the 9-6 loss to the Bulldogs last season. “It was an eye-opener for me, which I needed it.”

He continued, “I was 18 playing in Athens with an offense I didn’t necessarily know. This year, I’m only a year older, but it feels like I’m a lot older. I know the offense really well and we’re in Columbia, Missouri. Hopefully, that’s to our advantage.”

There’s reason to believe after last week when Lock cashed in on so much promise. First-year coach Barry Odom praised Lock’s mastery of the offense along with his improved ability to read defenses and his heightened pocket awareness/calmness.

We only had a couple questions this week, but I’m grateful for those who had something to “Ask Tod”:

Georgia will shorten the game with its run-heavy attack, which averages 45.5 run plays against only 21.5 pass plays through two games. That puts a premium on each possession for Missouri. It can’t afford three-drive scoring droughts unless the defense shows significant improvement against the run without the risk of digging a big hole.

The good news is that Lock and company are better built to come from behind than last season’s offense. The big-play ability the Tigers have shown means games aren’t over once an opponent goes in front anymore. Lock has a fumble on the season, but he’s thrown six touchdowns with zero interceptions — tied for the best TD-INT ratio in the country.

I don’t expect a shootout, but I think both teams can score in the 20s, so making the most of red-zone opportunities (i.e. not settling for field goals) will be crucial. Lock has to continue to take care of the football, play with even more confidence — he bailed last week as he felt phantom pressure on the 19-yard touchdown to Jason Reese, an amazing throw all things considered — and his receivers need to keep making plays.

Not-so-bold prediction: Missouri scores more than the 11 points it had in the season-opener at West Virginia and less than the 61 it scored in the home-opener against Eastern Michigan. Lock said he was timid against the Mountaineers and the Eagles were overmatched. Neither will be the case on Saturday, and I expect a relatively close game if D-Line Zou can tackle you know who.

Well, I can’t speak for everybody, but, for me, it’s my way of mocking people who get worked up over the apparel a team wears on the field. The fascination with uniforms mystifies me. “Costumes” also conveys the theatrical and entertainment quality of sports, akin to a wardrobe change on a movie set (though such changes are strictly a revenue-generation thing in athletics). Don’t take it personally, Connor, and have a wonderful day.

Tod Palmer: 816-234-4389, @todpalmer