Missouri Tigers quarterback Drew Lock made the most of his time on Faurot Field Saturday in Columbia. It was just a lot more action against Missouri State than he (and certainly Mizzou fans) probably would have liked for an FCS opponent.
Any person who correctly predicted the Tigers would beat the Bears by a 72-43 score has already been apprehended by the government and is currently being asked to predict important future events.
Like, will there be a Friends reboot? Because the way Mizzou’s defense played on Saturday, somebody needs to be there for you.
Lock set the school record for most passing yards and passing touchdowns in a single game. It wasn’t in an effort to run up the score. The junior threw for seven touchdowns—two more than the old record, which had been accomplished eight total times by himself (twice), Maty Mauk (twice) and Chase Daniel (four times).
His 521 yards easily surpassed the 480 Jeff Handy put up against Oklahoma State way back in 1992.
With the 2007 Missouri football team being honored at halftime of Saturday’s game, Daniel might have actually been in attendance had he not been witnessing the birth of his son, Preston. The Tiger legend did pass along his congratulations to Lock after his record-breaking sixth passing score.
The outstanding day for Lock, who completed 21-34 passes and had just one interception, will take some—but not all—of the focus away from a horrendous defensive showing. The fact that the former Blue Springs two-sport stud was in the game into the fourth quarter is, itself, a testament to how awful the Mizzou defense was.
After the Tigers struck gold on a 65-yard touchdown pass from Lock to Johnathon Johnson on the first play from scrimmage, Mizzou looked well on its way to an easy win. By the time the Bears capped their first drive and had a 7-6 lead (because, of course, the Tigers missed their extra point) it was clear that wouldn’t be the case.
Behind the play of JUCO transfer quarterback Peyton Hulgis and running back Calan Crowder, Missouri State refused to go away. Head coach Dave Steckel, the former Missouri defensive coordinator under Gary Pinkel, had to be pleased with his offense’s ability to seemingly answer each Mizzou drive. The Bears certainly outplayed this writer’s way-off prediction.
The Tigers took a 48-35 lead into halftime before slowly pulling away in the second half.
Running back Damarea Crockett broke off what appeared to be a 75-yard touchdown run on the second play of the third quarter and dove into the end zone to give Missouri a three-score lead. However, a bizarre taunting penalty was given to Crockett for unnecessarily diving into the end zone. The penalty, assessed from where he took off at the 2-yard line, wiped away the touchdown and forced the Tigers back to the 17-yard line. They ended up settling for a field goal.
It was part of an uneven day for the sophomore from Little Rock. He finished the day with over 200 yards rushing and two touchdowns, but he lost out on a third score with the penalty and lost a fumble on his next carry following a review. Crockett did, however, become the first Missouri player to rush for 200-plus yards in consecutive games.
Crockett, who was suspended for the Arkansas game to finish last year, rushed for 225 yards against Tennessee in the penultimate game of the 2016 season.
It was also the first time the Tigers have had a 400-yard passer and a 200-yard rusher in the same game. But the rest of the Missouri offense put up some stunning stats, as well.
J’Mon Moore had 187 yards and two scores on just four receptions. Johnson caught five passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Albert Okwuegbunam, a freshman tight end, had 51 yards receiving and a touchdown.
But, again, the biggest takeaway from this game—as far as what matters most going forward—is how terrible the Mizzou defense looked.
Missouri State scored touchdowns on each of its first three drives. A methodical 12-play drive to answer the one-play Tiger score. A quick three-play drive that answered a two-play Mizzou drive. Then a seven-play drive to answer Missouri’s five-play drive.
With Mizzou’s offense scoring fast, the defense needs to be able to recover quickly. Maybe playing against SEC teams like South Carolina next week will help the defense in that regard. But the sheer number of blown assignments and missed tackles does not bode well for next week or any game moving forward.
Missouri coach Barry Odom—also a former defensive coordinator under Pinkel—should be incredibly disappointed in his defense. Things will have to take a major step up on that side of the ball if the Tigers are going to win a single SEC game, more or less make it to a bowl.
Lock & Co. looked great, albeit against an FCS program that went 4-7 last year. The 2016 SEC leader in passing yards will likely need to rewrite the Mizzou record book on a weekly basis if the Tigers are going to make any noise outside of “oof” in the conference this season.