Signs of offensive life
Standing in the pocket, Missouri quarterback Drew Lock looked to his left and threw a short pass to wide receiver Johnathan Johnson. Fifteen seconds later, Johnson was in the end zone after taking off for an 87-yard touchdown. A few minutes later Lock found tight end Jason Reese for a 19-yard touchdown, the first of Reese’s career.
Meet the new Missouri offense.
After having one of the country's most abysmal seasons offensively last year, ranking in the bottom five of the entire FBS in most offensive categories, Missouri showed more offensive life than it did all of last season in the Tigers’ 61-21 win over Eastern Michigan on Saturday night.
Lock tied a school-record by throwing for five touchdowns and flirted with the single-game record for passing yards, finishing 30 yards short with 450. Lock had told his teammates earlier in the week that he wanted to break the passing record and the touchdown record on Saturday. He said part of the team’s success was from his teammates believing him and wanting to play a part in rewriting the program’s record book.
“Drew’s been doing this for a long time,” Reese said. “I’m glad he’s finally got to show it in a game.”
While Missouri beat an opponent far from Southeastern Conference caliber in Eastern Michigan, the Tigers still gave plenty of reasons to be optimistic heading into next week’s game against Georgia.
The offensive line continued its strong play, going the entire game without giving up a sack. The line provided Lock plenty of time in the pocket to go through his reads and find his receivers. Missouri also set a program record with six players all scoring their first career touchdown in a single game.
“All those guys did was get me breathed on tonight,” Lock said implying the line’s strong protection of him.
Missouri also showed off its depth at multiple positions and seemed to have an answer for every issue that came up. With senior tight end Sean Culkin sidelined with an ankle injury, Blanton and Reese combined for 58 yards and a pair of touchdowns on only a handful of catches. When senior running back Alex Ross left the game early with a sprained ankle, true freshman Damarea Crockett came in and rushed for 68 yards and his first career touchdown.
“Our job is to go out there and make plays and whenever the plays were presented we made them tonight,” Reese said.
Missouri will now enter next Saturday’s game against Georgia hoping to bottle up some of offensive firepower it showed against the Eagles to see what it can do against the Bulldogs rookie head coach and defensive guru Kirby Smart.
Despite the difference in competition between the two opponents, most players think the offense got what it needed to put up a fight against Georgia.
“The main thing about our offense is gaining confidence,” Reese said. “And this was a great game for confidence.”