Drew Lock ends sophomore season with a rivalry win

Coach Barry Odom: “There’s ... signs of what he has done, what he can do, what he’s going to, what he’s going to grow into.”

Drew Lock celebrates with Johnathon Johnson during Missouri's victory against Arkansas on Nov. 25 in Columbia.

After Missouri’s 28-24 win against Arkansas on Friday, the black sharpie on Drew Lock’s left hand was clearly visible. “PF squared,” it read.

Play fast. Play fakes.

“Be slow throughout it,” he said after the game. “Because if you’re slow throughout it, you’re going to calm in the pocket. As far as being calm, I did a completely better job tonight.”

Lock showed both the potential and consistency Missouri fans have been waiting for during the Arkansas game.

He dropped a pass perfectly into the arms of Johnathon Johnson for a 67-yard touchdown in the third quarter. He hit J’Mon Moore for a 49-yard completion early in the fourth. He managed the clock late in the game and took a knee to give the Tigers the win.

Lock played fast, and he executed his play fakes. It was a complete performance after two years of inconsistency.

“We just continued to work after practice,” Johnson said. “We do a little extra just to make sure we on the same page.”

Better performances from both his running game and offensive line helped Lock throughout the season, and the strong showings continued in the Arkansas game. Missouri quarterbacks were sacked 28 times in 2015, compared to only 14 this season, a testament to the line’s improvement.

In 2015, Missouri only posted 1,385 rushing yards. This season, the Tigers racked up 2,461 yards.

“The ability to scheme a running game has helped them a lot this year,” said Andy Lock, Drew’s father. “The ability to be balanced at any level of offense, I think, is the most critical piece to having a successful offense, and those guys are super balanced this year.”

As a true freshman in 2015, Lock struggled under center. He threw eight interceptions with only four touchdowns and completed under 50 percent of his passes. Coming into his sophomore season, teammates and coaches stressed the quarterback’s growth confidence-wise.

Lock was far from perfect in 2016, but his improvement was apparent. He threw for 3,399 yards with 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

“There’s throws that you’d always like to have back,” coach Barry Odom said. “There’s also signs of what he has done, what he can do, what he’s going to, what he’s going to grow into.”

Lock’s performance Friday evening was vastly different from last year’s game against Arkansas. He threw for 268 yards and a touchdown on Friday, compared to his 83-yard performance in Missouri’s loss in 2015.

The quarterback referenced last year’s game against Arkansas multiple times his sophomore season. He remembers the weather: cold and rainy. He remembers looking at his father in the stands after the painful loss.

He remembers it as the low point of his freshman season.

Friday’s scene couldn’t have been more different. Lock walked up the grass hill toward his family after the game and leaned over the concrete barrier to greet them.

“It kind of shows the work you put in,” he said. “It’s a feeling of gratitude, I guess. It’s hard to put into words how good you feel.”

If Lock plays the way he did against Arkansas on Friday, it’s a feeling he could get used to.

Edited by Nancy Coleman | ncoleman@themaneater.com

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