football Edit

Growing pains

The youth of Missouri (4-2, 1-2 SEC) showed early in a 21-3 loss to 11th-ranked Florida (6-0, 3-0) on Saturday.
With Florida driving into Missouri territory on its first drive, receiver Brandon Powell carried the ball for a gain of four yards to the Tigers' 22. However, freshman defensive end Nate Howard came in late and hit Powell after he was down.
The penalty cut the remaining field in half, from the 22 to the 11. Missouri's defense stiffened up, but it didn't matter - four plays later, running back Kelvin Taylor muscled into the endzone for his first of two one-yard touchdown runs.
On Florida's third drive of the game, it was freshman defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. who had a personal foul on a face mask penalty that negated the yardage from a three-yard sack. Florida didn't face even a second down for the rest of the drive, gaining 19, 21 and then one more yard on Taylor's second touchdown run of the night.
But the youth of Missouri, a team dotted with freshmen and/or sophomores at every level of both offense and defense, showed most glaringly at quarterback.
Quarterback Drew Lock completed his first two passes for 51 yards. He drove the offense to Florida's 3-yard line on the opening drive before the Tigers settled for a 21-yard field goal, their only points of the night.
From there, Lock finished 14 of 37 for 100 yards and two touchdowns, one of which was returned 40-yards by Jalen Tabor to provide the final points of the night in the third quarter.
Florida coach Jim McElwain said the gameplan was to confuse the young Lock as much as possible. Part of that was showing one coverage, and then rolling into another at the snap.
"It's hard on young quarterbacks, man, when you're giving a bunch of different looks," McElwain said. "Believe me."
Yet Missouri knew Florida disguises coverages often. The offensive players and coaches talked about that on Monday; Lock said as much after the game.
"We knew that most of the time they'd start out in one thing and change to another," Lock said. "That's something I had to keep my head on. It was tough. That's the first time I've played against a true defense like that. In high school, we just - Base 3, Base 4, Base 2. They're starting to roll to things. I mean, South Carolina rolled to things, too, and we did just fine. It was pretty much execution today."
Even beyond the nuance of the game, there's the youthful confidence that Lock exudes and, sometimes, comes back to bite him. On Lock's second interception, the one returned for a touchdown, Lock said he saw Tabor there, in coverage against tight end Jason Reese.
"I thought I could get it by him," Lock said. "Didn't necessarily think they'd be playing 2-man, like I said. Not one of their most-popular coverages."
It's a season full of new experiences for a younger, more inexperienced Missouri team. Lock continues to embody that reality best. He was hit early and often for the first time in his short career, getting sacked three times and hurried five more.
"Like I told Connor (McGovern), he was apologizing," Lock said. "Shoot, I'm a fresh body, man. Use me while you can. It's not that bad actually. A couple of them are like, 'Oh, crap. That's a grown man hitting me.
"It's football. That's going to happen."
It's a learning process for Lock and the Tigers. After the first loss of his starting career, that's the message that Gary Pinkel passed on.
"Keep your head up," Lock remembered Pinkel saying. "It's growing pains. You'll be just fine."