Drew Lock was placed in a horrible situation last season. Because of Maty Mauk's inconsistencies on and off the field, the true freshman had to play quarterback in a Missouri offense that had holes at every level.
Those problems were evident as the Tigers fielded the SEC’s worst passing offense (165.5 yards per game) and longtime coach Gary Pinkel resigned at the end of the season.
New Mizzou coach Barry Odom believes that rocky first season will help Lock this fall -- and he needs that to be true, as the Tigers still have question marks throughout their offensive depth chart.
Let’s take a look:
2015 in review: Veteran Mauk (57-for-110, 654 yards, six touchdowns, four interceptions) opened last season as the starter, but played in just five games and eventually gave way to Lock (129-for-263, 1,332 yards, 4 TDs, 8 INTs). The youngster became the first true freshman QB in a decade to start at Mizzou and held the job for the final eight games of the season.
What’s the buzz?: “Drew has experience -- some of it he doesn’t want to think about because it wasn’t successful at times, and he had some bright spots as well. We will see much better play out of the quarterback this year and it’s the way that they’ve been trained now since January. It’s important to them to be successful.” -- Odom
Key weapons: Mizzou returns leading receivers J'Mon Moore (29 catches, 350 yards, 3 touchdowns) and Nate Brown (27-326, 4 TDs), although Brown could miss the first portion of the season with a high ankle sprain. Alabama transfer Chris Black (25-290, 2 TDs in three seasons at Alabama) could become Lock’s go-to wideout right away after Moore and Brown both disappointed last season. The Tigers could lean on a transfer -- Alex Ross, formerly of Oklahoma -- at running back, as well. They also have Ish Witter (518 rushing yards, 1 TD) and junior college transfer Nate Strong among their backfield options.
What to watch: It will not take long to see how much progress Lock has made under new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel. The Tigers open the season at West Virginia, which typically boasts one of the nation’s more explosive offenses. Mizzou will probably have to put some points on the board to leave Morgantown with a win, and that will require steadier play from its starting QB.
Grade: C-minus. A lack of success in Lock’s debut season, the lack of QB depth and the questionable talent pool surrounding the position led to this grade. Lock was a well-regarded prospect in a bad situation last year, so he has the potential to raise this grade substantially over time.