The legend of Drew Lock continues to grow, which is crazy when you consider he’s only played in two scrimmages and truly is in the infancy of his career at Missouri.
Lock, a true freshman from Lee’s Summit and the reigning Simone Award winner as Kansas City’s top high school football player last season, was heaped with praise after his scrimmage debut Saturday when he completed 14 of 19 passes for 139 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
He was even better Thursday during the Tigers’ second scrimmage of fall camp.
Lock went 15 of 20 for a team highs of 168 yards and two touchdowns and didn’t throw an interception again.
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His day started with four shorts series with the third-team offense against the third-string defense.
The Lock-led offense managed only one first down, he was sacked twice and started four of seven for 14 yards.
But when Lock got a shot with the second-string offense against the first-team defense, his day turned around.
Lock converted a third-and-long by slinging a pass deep down the right sideline for a 49-yard gain to freshman Justin Smith.
The next play, Lock dropped back, sensed pressure and shuffled up in the pocket before rifling a 10-yard touchdown to redshirt freshman Ray Wingo.
During third-team red-zone work, Lock was sacked on first down and there was a run for no gain on second down.
Facing third-and-14 at the defense’s 24-yard line, Lock scrambled to his left when the pocket disintegrated, spotted sophomore walk-on Oke Akushe deep over the middle, dropped his arm down to avoid an oncoming defender and delivered a 22-yard pass to the 2-yard line.
Akushe made a nice adjustment to stop his momentum as he flowed toward the sideline and snare the ball slightly behind him. That led to a 2-yard touchdown run by freshman Marquise Doherty, a Winnetonka graduate who’s also having a nice camp.
He was six of eight for 69 yards, including a 17-yard completion on the run to Kendall Blanton on fourth-and-15 and a 14-yard touchdown to Akushe to cap the nine-play, 65-yard march.
There are warts, too. Lock was sacked four times, which is double any of MU’s other four quarterbacks, but he also demonstrated great pocket awareness and escaped pressure on several other occasions.
Missouri’s staff was quick to pump the brakes on Lock’s Heisman candidacy, but it’s hard to ignore his gaudy numbers through the first two scrimmages.
Lock is 29 of 39 — a 74.4 completion percentage — for 307 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. That’s an average of 7.9 yards per attempt and equates to a 174.3 quarterback rating.
More quarterback chatter
Of course, Lock wasn’t the only quarterback to play well again.
Missouri hasn’t thrown an interception yet in its two scrimmages and the only turnover came on an Eddie Printz incompletion to tight end Sean Culkin that was judged to be a backward pass and was scooped up by the defense.
“That’s exciting for us and we’ve just got to sort the whole thing out based on a lot of different things,” Pinkel said of the stellar quarterback play so far in scrimmages.
Junior Maty Mauk, who completed only 10 of 22 passes in the first scrimmage, rebounded with a strong showing. He went 15 of 22 for 143 yards with a touchdown and also had three carries for 26 yards.
“All the quarterbacks played well,” sophomore slot receiver Nate Brown said. “Maty’s a guy, it may not look pretty, but he’s going to find a way to win. That’s our leader right now when we’re on the field.”
Printz continued his steady ascendance in limited work, going seven of 13 for 101 yards with a touchdown.
Senior Corbin Berkstresser gets the fewest snaps, but he’s made the most of them, including a nifty 55-yard rocket Thursday to Jake Brents for a touchdown.
Then, there’s redshirt freshman Marvin Zanders, who is a wunderkind on the read-option.
“Marvin, his speed speaks for itself,” Brown said. “He’s definitely the most mobile of the quarterbacks. Drew, I really like his poise and his calmness in the pocket. Both those guys have a lot of good things going for them.”
Zanders roasted the Tigers’ defense to the tune of seven carries for 62 yards, including gains of 26 and 31 yards on the same drive against the third-string defense. He also went four of eight for 64 yards passing.
“I honestly couldn’t even put into words how much he’s gotten better,” Mauk said. “Last year, he kind of struggled with the offense and stuff like that, but right now he knows everything that’s going on. When you watch him do the zone-read and then take off and run, that’s something he’s very successful at.”
Mauk wouldn’t be surprised if Missouri builds a package around Zanders’ read-option prowess.
“That’s something we can probably use this year,” Mauk said. “There will be situations where we can throw him in there and put him in there to do the zone read. He’s got the speed.”
MISSOURI SCRIMMAGE QUARTERBACK COMPARISON
Run game musings
Russell Hansbrough has 12 carries for 52 yards in the first two scrimmages, but the most encouraging thing — for Missouri’s feature back and the offensive line — might be that he’s yet to have a carry for a loss.
He also has six catches for 34 yards out of the backfield, a weapon I expect the Tigers to use more in the search for ways to make the offense more efficient.
If there’s a concern, it’s that Hansbrough hasn’t had a run longer than 9 yards.
Sophomore Ish Witter was largely bottled up in the first scrimmage, gaining only 17 yards on 11 carries, but he had four carries for 22 yards and found the end zone twice Thursday.
Still working his way back from hip surgery, junior Morgan Steward hasn’t shown his trademark burst, managing only 24 yards on 14 carries plus another 24 yards on seven receptions, but he looks serviceable.
Chase Abbington, a Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College transfer, only has 20 yards on eight carries, but the back who’s turning heads down the depth chart is Winnetonka graduate and true freshman Marquise Doherty.
Doherty scored another touchdown Thursday and has totaled 47 yards from scrimmage on 10 touches with two touchdowns in both scrimmages combined.
There are some athletes behind Hansbrough at the position — maybe not quite to the level of a Marcus Murphy (or not yet perhaps in Doherty’s case), but the position isn’t void of talent.
MU SCRIMMAGE NO. 2 FINAL STATS
Rushing (Carries-Yards): Marvin Zanders 7-62, Maty Mauk 3-26, Ish Witter 4-22 2 TD, Russell Hansbrough 6-20, Marquise Doherty 6-14 TD, Chase Abbington 4-9, Morgan Steward 5-7, Tyler Hunt 5-6, Eddie Printz 3-4, Ryan Williams 6-1, Corbin Berkstresser 2-(-1), Drew Lock 5-(-8).
Passing (Comp-Att-Int): Maty Mauk 15-22-0 134 yards TD [134.3 QB rating], Drew Lock 15-20-0 168 2 TD [178.6], Eddie Printz 7-13-0 101 TD [144.5], Marvin Zanders 4-8-0 64 [117.2], Corbin Berkstresser 2-4-0 60 TD [258.5].
Receiving (Receptions-Yards): DeSean Blair 5-66, Jake Brents 4-80 TD, Emanuel Hall 4-75, Morgan Steward 4-10, Oke Akushe 3-51 TD, Kendall Blanton 3-32, Russell Hansbrough 3-18, Justin Smith 2-59, Thomas Richard 2-48 TD, Ray Wingo 2-21 TD, Nate Brown 2-15 TD, Sean Culkin 2-11, Jason Reese 2-11, Wesley Leftwich 1-13, Ish Witter 1-7, Ryan Williams 1-6, Chase Abbington 1-4, Marquise Doherty 1-0.