The Maneater

Week two report card: Grading each Missouri position group after a stellar night against Wyoming

Lock leads the way and defense pulls together for all-around high marks.

Senior defensive tackle Terry Beckner, Jr. (left) celebrates a defensive stop with teammate Adam Sparks in the first quarter of Missouri's matchup with Wyoming on September 9, 2018.

Quarterback: A

Drew Lock: 33-45, 398 yards, 4 touchdowns - 0 interceptions, 177 rating

Those numbers speak for themselves. Lock’s performance is what ignited the Tiger offense to take hold of Saturday’s matchup through the middle of the game.

After shaking off Wyoming defenders for, Lock scrambled for a 12-yard touchdown run towards the end of the first half, giving the Tigers their first touchdown of the game. Five minutes later, Lock found Albert Okwuegbunam in the end zone to tack on another six before halftime.

While he also threw another three touchdown passes in the second half, one thing fans (and scouts more likely) should enjoy seeing is Lock making good decisions. Whether it was scrambling to evade collapsed pockets or deciding to make the throw that was more sensible than flashy, Lock seemed to be in his element in that right tonight.

Running backs: C

Damarea Crockett: 19 attempts, 73 yards, 0 touchdowns/Larry Rountree III: 10 attempts, 34 yards, 0 touchdowns/Tyler Badie: 11 attempts, 46 yards, 0 touchdowns

As much as Missouri had its offense succeeding through the air, it says a lot when a team’s big-arm quarterback is the second leading rusher at the end of the game.

All three of the running backs who touched the ball Saturday — Crockett, Rountree III and Badie — did a decent job as a unit, but none of them found paydirt or broke off a run of 20-plus yards.

They got their job done on a few third-and-shorts, but it’s fair to say the unit lacked a certain explosive, playmaking ability against the Cowboys.

Receivers: A

Emmanuel Hall: 10 receptions, 171 yards, 1 touchdown/Johnathon Johnson: 7 receptions, 61 yards, 1 touchdown/Jalen Knox: 3 receptions, 27 yards, 0 touchdowns

It’s easy to forget the supporting cast surrounding Heisman hopeful Drew Lock, but they provide a great deal for the QB1. This receiver corps finished Saturday with five different receivers catching a pass, including two freshmen.

Emmanuel Hall finished the game in usual fashion, leading receivers in catches and yards. His usual deep threat abilities weren’t as much on display as last week (don’t worry, they still were), but if anything, that’s a positive sign considering his impact in the ‘new look’ Derek Dooley offense.

Johnathon Johnson extended his streak of games with a touchdown catch to two, being one of only two Missouri receivers to catch a touchdown pass against Wyoming in week two.

Tight ends: B

Albert Okwuegbunam: 7 receptions, 50 yards, 1 touchdown/Kendall Blanton: 3 receptions, 21 yards, 1 touchdown

The Tigers contributions at tight end only seemed to grow more prominent the longer the game went on.

After a first quarter which saw Drew Lock complete three passes to Okwuegbunam on four attempts for a net total of 8 yards, as well as a forced fumble from Okwuegbunam, things picked up a bit in the second quarter.

Okwuegbunam caught three passes for 34 yards and a touchdown through the seam in the second quarter alone. It was redemption after a bobble that nearly led to an interception earlier in the quarter. Blanton, who didn’t even have a pass thrown to him in the first quarter, caught his first touchdown of the season early in the second half.

Blanton (who finished week one with two catches for 20 yards) and Okwuegbunam (with two catches for 14 yards) both made their impact felt more in Saturday’s matchup, contributing in more expected ways to Derek Dooley’s new offense.

Offensive line: B

Allowed 3.0 tackles for loss, 1 quarterback hit, 0 sacks

Looking at the few offensive line stats that exist, the veteran unit certainly wasn’t terrible Saturday. No sacks allowed is an achievement when two of the standouts on the Wyoming defensive squad are starting defensive lineman.

Protecting the run was a weak point throughout the first half, but it protected enough for Lock to pick up 51 yards on the evening. Like the tight ends and most of the offense, the group got better as the game moved along.

Defensive line: C+

Terry Beckner Jr.: 2.0 tackles for loss

Tonight’s performance wasn’t Missouri’s defensive line hitting its full potential, but the unit hit some milestones and, go figure, Beckner had the most substantial statline of anyone.

He didn’t put up astronomical numbers, but his only tackles were for losses. Defensive end Chris Turner recorded a sack on a third-and-10 in the second half, which actually notched just the unit’s second sack of the year following Nate Anderson’s in the second quarter.

Other than that, the line recorded 10 total tackles, accounting for a little less than a quarter of the defense’s stops.

Linebackers: B

Terez Hall: 5 total tackles, 2 quarterback hits, 1 forced fumble/Cale Garrett: 4 total tackles, 1 quarterback hit/Brandon Lee: 4 total tackles

Oddly enough, this starting linebacker trio had individuals hit both peaks and lows against Wyoming.

The peak was Hall’s performance. The senior finished with five total tackles, two quarterback hits and a forced fumble. His blitz presence on third downs in the first half forced multiple incompletions, which helped lead to Wyoming’s sequence of six straight punts.

On the other end of the spectrum, Lee’s night finished early, as he was ejected for targeting in the third quarter before he could add to his four-tackle total. Lee, an Indianapolis native, will miss the first half at Purdue in West Lafayette next week.

Secondary: B

Khalil Oliver: 3 solo tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, 1 fumble recovery/Cam Hilton: 4 total tackles/Adam Sparks: 2 total tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, 1 quarterback hit/Demarkus Acy: 2 total tackles, 1 pass breakup

Secondaries are typically known as the unit that can shut down a passing attack, but Missouri’s secondary did more on the ground than through the air Saturday.

It combined for 2.0 tackles for a loss and had a quarterback hit and a fumble recovery, making it very apparent they can apply pressure on the pocket when necessary. Cornerback Adam Sparks was especially effective bringing in an extra angle on blitzes, and DeMarkus Acy had lockdown coverage out wide aside from the occasional over-commitment.

The corners were at their strongest on a string of series early in the game, helping keep Missouri’s precarious 3-point lead intact. Safety Khalil Oliver added a fumble recovery.

However, Wyoming quarterback Tyler Vander Waal was 7-for-8 when targeting Missouri’s starting defensive backs. That completion percentage should be a talking point for the group going into West Lafayette next week.

Special teams: B-

Tucker McCann: 2-4, career-long 50-yard field goal/Corey Fatony: 2 punts, net 75 yards/Tyler Badie & Dom Gicinto: Combined 2 returns, net 18 yards

This grade feels extremely generous, but there were two standout moments from tonight’s performance.

First was Fatony’s first punt of the game. It almost seemed too good, as the 41-yard punt bounced inside the Wyoming 5-yard line but hopped over the head and just out of reach of Jalen Knox. The hang time and placement were excellent, but it ended in a touchback regardless.

Second was Tucker McCann’s career-long field goal. It’s important to state that no kicker should go 2-for-4, but his two misses were from 47 and 49 yards. The Tigers need better than 50 percent from McCann moving forward, but a career-best feels worthy of some praise.

Edited by Bennett Durando | bdurando@themaneater.com

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