With Georgia coming to town next week, a home tilt against Eastern Michigan might have looked like a prime look-ahead game for the Missouri Tigers.
It took 91 seconds to put those fears to rest, as Mizzou marched 75 yards in seven plays to put seven points up on the board, as Drew Lock connected with Emanuel Hall on a 36-yard touchdown pass. The Tigers kept their foot on the gas, as they'd go on to score a total of five first-half touchdowns, putting the Eagles away early.
This was, of course, an expected win, but there are still some things we can learn from the performance. Here are three key takeaways:
1. 2015 Did Not Ruin Drew Lock
After a disastrous true freshman season in which he completed less than half of his passes, there were some concerns over whether Lock would be able to bounce back from such a rough introduction to college football. Tonight made those concerns looked misguided.
Lock had, by far, the best game of his career, throwing for 450 yards -- fourth-best in Missouri history -- and five touchdowns with zero interceptions. His 24 completions went to 10 different receivers -- a big departure from the J'Mon Moore show that was Week 1 -- with several accurate deep throws that reminded us why he was seen as a potential NFL quarterback coming out of high school.
As discussed in my preview, Eastern Michigan's defense is not one to be feared, but Lock's big game should, if nothing else, provide a nice confidence boost as the Tigers get their SEC slate started.
2. Missouri Has Some Young Playmakers at Wide Receiver
Nearly as encouraging as Lock's performance were the standout games from a number of Mizzou's young receivers, most notably redshirt freshman Jonathan Johnson. Johnson had five catches for 115 yards, including a bubble screen that looked like it would go for a loss before Johnson just outran the entire EMU defense for an 87-yard touchdown. Oh yeah, and he returned a punt 53 yards for a touchdown, too.
Like Johnson, redshirt sophomore Ray Wingo has always been known for speed, and he showed why tonight, repeatedly getting behind the Eagles' defense on his way to 125 yards and a TD of his own. The aforementioned Hall, a sophomore, and true freshman Dimetrios Mason also got in on the action, combining for eight catches and 141 yards.
Last year, Mizzou came about as close as any team can to having negative playmakers at its skill positions. Tonight, a handful emerged, and they all have multiple years of eligibility left. After upperclassmen Moore and Chris Black each compiled over 100 yards against West Virginia last, the Tigers receiving core looks deep and talented -- a major departure from what we saw in 2015.
3. The Mizzou Kicking Game is a Major Concern
This win was not all good news for Mizzou. The Tigers missed two extra points -- one each from Tucker McCann and Turner Adams -- making this two weeks in a row when the kicking game left points on the board. It didn't cost them against Eastern Michigan, but the Tigers aren't going to be in a position to get away with giving away points next week against Georgia.
Perhaps the most concerning part about this is that these problems seem to be totally mental; neither guy looks to have much confidence. I'm not sure how, or if, Barry Odom can get that fixed in the next week, but if Mizzou needs to make a kick to hang with the Dawgs, they can't feel very confident with the guys they have after seeing them struggle so badly in the first two weeks.
Regardless, this was a nice, confidence-building week for the Tigers. Mizzou is going to need it, because now it's on to:
Georgia week.— Marcell Frazier (@YuskeFrazier) September 11, 2016