The Maneater

SEC Media Days: Drew Lock’s ability will be on display soon enough, but his personality already is

Missouri’s star quarterback candidly discussed his senior year mentality, Heisman potential, offense under Derek Dooley and more in Atlanta.

Drew Lock speaks at the 2018 SEC Media Days.

Drew Lock misses basketball most for the face-to-face.

“There’s no pads on, there’s no helmets,” he says. “If someone has a problem with you, they’re this close to you. You’re just right in their face.”

Basketball, it turns out, is as perfect for his mouth as football is for his arm. In the Texas Bowl last year, Lock provoked mockery from Texas coach Tom Herman for his ‘secure the bag’ touchdown celebration. And the Missouri quarterback still vividly remembers his first technical foul as a high school hoops player, during a game in St. Louis against eventual college roommate and Tiger safety Cam Hilton.

“I’d like to think it was a St. Louis thing and Kansas City thing,” Lock said. “I gave a ref a thumbs up after he told me not to do something, and I guess he felt it upon himself to give me a T. That was one of the more confusing things that had happened to me in my basketball career, for giving an OK, gotcha, then walk away and just … straight T’d up.”

After picking up another foul moments later, Lock began to slam the ball in frustration. Instead, his hand “slipped” and the ball soared 30 feet toward the rafters.

“The whole crowd went crazy trying to get me another T,” he recalls. “But it slipped out of my hands, so they didn’t T me up for it.”

That was his senior year in high school. Now his senior year in college is about to kick off, and he still hasn’t been handed the football equivalent of a technical foul (a taunting penalty?). Is one on his Mizzou bucket list?

“We’ll see. I’m sure Coach Odom wouldn't be very happy with it, but we’ll see.”

Lock has never been afraid to talk on the playing field — nor has he ever beamed so much at gabbing with the press than at this week’s 2018 SEC Media Days. The senior candidly discussed everything Wednesday from philosophy regarding Mizzou-doubters to how he would approach being on the Bachelorette, from his chemistry with new offensive coordinator Derek Dooley to whether he thinks a hotdog is a sandwich (he doesn’t).

“I think it’s just my last go-around,” Lock said. “I might as well say the things I’ve been thinking for the last three years here. Talk is talk, but right as the ball gets snapped, no one’s thinking about the sh*t that was talked. No one’s thinking about any of that. It’s thinking about: I’m gonna do my job, play the best game of football that I can.”

That’s the mentality this no-holds-barred manifestation of Lock hopes to embed in his team. Especially considering the building frustration he opened up about regarding criticism against Missouri, even after its six-game win streak that erased a 1-5 start in 2017.

“Whenever we play well, it’s because the other team didn’t play well,” he said. “It’s not because the Missouri Tigers are a good football team. When someone catches a pass, it’s because they were wide open. It wasn’t because we made a good play on the ball or it was a good throw … I think that’s the chip we have on our shoulder. People talk about our comebacks, and the teams we played weren’t as good as other SEC teams. Well they had better records than us. They were technically, in the media’s eyes, in others in college football’s eyes, in rankings’ eyes, better football teams than us. And we beat them.”

Lock knows not to linger too much on the past, though. With a fresh start and a new play-caller in Dooley, the quarterback says he’s open to the numerous changes to Missouri’s look this year.

He was onboard with the pitch to run a more NFL-style offense that Dooley could introduce as a former wide receivers coach for the Dallas Cowboys. And although he says things will move a tad slower and even feature him under center from time to time, Lock insists the core principle of speed will persist.

“A couple,” he said, laughing, when asked how many times Missouri would use a huddle before plays.

Huddles were few and far between in 2017, and the tempo helped Lock compile an SEC single-season record of 44 touchdown passes. With that still in mind this fall — particularly this week in Atlanta — no topic presents more opportunity to talk than the one that comes up the most now in Lock’s world: his 2018 Heisman Trophy potential.

“I do feel like I hear it almost every day; it’s an awesome problem to have,” Lock said, again passing on an opening for a cliché insertion. “It’s been a fun ride so far with it. I think if that [Heisman] is to happen, we’re gonna have to win football games, and it’s going to be because of the defense, because of the wide receivers, how we block. I think the Heisman is really the greatest team trophy to win besides the national championship.”

If one thing’s for sure, it’s that Lock will have fun vying for the prestigious honor. Maybe even more fun than he had showing off his personality with the media on Wednesday. Maybe even more fun than he’ll have when the occasional trash-talking opportunity comes along this season.

“I’ve always been the guy that ... I’m trying my best to beat you but if you talk a little something to me, it’s gonna get me a little riled up,” Lock said.

He insisted that meant in a good way. “A super good way.”

“There’s an occasional trash talk,” he then admitted with a grin. Then he laid one down for Texas about that tired backpack trick.

“I had been doing that all year. I got to do it almost 44 times in that season. So someone just got a little butthurt about it, probably because they probably got to do it like 10 times.”

Lock said that won’t be his celebratory dance this year. He’ll be free-wheeling, just like in Atlanta. And as for the competition for top quarterback in the SEC?

“I think every single one of them will tell you they’re the best one in the conference,” Lock said with his self-labeled confidence, “and so will I.”

Edited by Adam Cole | acole@themaneater.com

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