The numbers may not take your breath away, but the Mizzou offense showed noticeable improvement on Saturday as true freshman quarterback Drew Lock made his first start taking over for a suspended Maty Mauk.
“I feel great right now,” Lock said after the victory. “To be out there and to get a win against South Carolina is kind of unreal.”
It is clear that the coaching staff took an understandably conservative approach with Lock, especially in the second half. Despite throwing for only 136 yards, Lock appeared to be a very poised and instinctive player, and this should be his team from here on out.
The return of the Missouri running game is another huge takeaway from this game. The Tigers ran for 163 yards on Saturday which is a season high for a team that has struggled to find capable ball-carriers all season.
“We blocked better and we ran better, it’s something to build off of.” Mizzou head coach Gary Pinkel stated.
The Mizzou defense was stellar and punished South Carolina quarterback Lorenzo Nunez all afternoon. The freshman threw three costly interceptions which helped the Tigers pull away in the second half.
“Our defense played great, I think we played even better than what the score was.”Pinkel boasted, possibly making reference to the one fluky touchdown South Carolina scored all game.
For Missouri, another huge divisional game looms this weekend as the upstart Florida Gators come to town for homecoming. Florida is coming off a huge win at home against Ole Miss and have one of the top defenses in the nation. It will undoubtedly be another big test for Lock as he looks to lead the Tigers back into the SEC East race.
South Carolina, on the other hand, looks to be a program in steep decline under Steve Spurrier. The Gamecocks are coming off of a disappointing 6-6 campaign in 2014 and are currently sitting at just 2-3 (0-3 in the SEC). Perhaps time has caught up with the “ol ball coach” as his back to back 11 win seasons seem to be a distant memory at this point.