Tag Archives: Drew Lock

2017 Report Card For The Texas Longhorns

2017 brought a lot of hype to the Texas football program, but that’s really nothing new. Expectations were high with Tom Herman coming in and taking over the program, and to most people, those expectations didn’t come close to being met.

There were plenty of positives throughout the season, but we’ve seen this story before. Herman’s job this offseason is to build on those positives and eliminate the negatives. Previous regimes haven’t been able to do so successfully, and the result has been a below average team for the last several years.

Here are my thoughts on how each position unit graded out for the Longhorns in 2017.

Offense: C-

I believe Texas found it’s quarterback in Sam Ehlinger. Shane Buechele is a good quarterback, but he just can’t stay healthy enough to be relied upon. With that being said, Ehlinger is essentially the sole reason for three out of the six losses Texas had. He fumbled the ball in double overtime against USC, threw a dumb interception in overtime against Oklahoma State and made a terrible mistake by throwing the ball on a third down late in the game against Texas Tech that resulted in an interception.

Eliminate those three plays and Texas finishes the season at 10-3 instead of 7-6. That’s a brash statement, but it’s just an indication of how close the Longhorns were to meeting expectations. It was clear to me that the coaching staff sent a message to Ehlinger during bowl practices that he has to be smarter on the field. He tries to do too much at times and it hurts his team. I saw a smarter quarterback in the Texas Bowl against Missouri, so there is some promise that he could build on his maturity over the offseason.

Defense: A

There’s no question this Longhorns team wouldn’t have won seven games if it weren’t for Todd Orlando’s defense. In fact, this is probably a three- or four-win team if the defense hadn’t played stellar all season. The Texas defense faced a top-tier quarterback week in and week out, and pretty much contained them as much as possible.

Consider this list of names Texas faced: Sam Darnold, Mason Rudolph, Baker Mayfield and Drew Lock. Three of those quarterbacks will be selected in the upcoming NFL draft, and the fourth likely will be next year. The common theme is Orlando’s defense held those quarterbacks in check and did not allow them to take over the game, as they do against other opponents.

It appears Herman and the UT administration is working on a contract extension and a raise for Orlando, which could be the best thing they do all offseason.

Special Teams: B-

The only reason I’ve given this high of a grade for this unit is because of punter Michael Dickson. There’s a reason why he’s a Ray Guy award winner for the best punter in the nation. He was the best offense in many games for Texas, with his ability to flip field position and put the defense in a better position to succeed. The Longhorns are going to miss his leg next year as he heads off to the NFL.

Special Teams would have received an “A” grade if it weren’t for the field goal kicking woes. Herman was forced to either go for it on 4th down or punt numerous times instead of attempting a long field goal. In some cases, he passed up field goal attempts of under 30 yards because he couldn’t trust his kicker. Look at every good Texas team in the last 15 years and you’ll recognize the name of the kicker. It’s a critical part of the success of any program, and the Longhorns didn’t have it this year. Hopefully, Herman will solve the kicking woes in recruiting this offseason, because it was clearly an issue in 2017.

Recap

2017 was mostly a year to forget but could be a turning point for the program as well. Stability within the UT athletic department could be a sign of good things coming for Texas, and bringing back a pretty decent amount of experience will help. Herman now knows how fragile of a group he was working with all year, especially from a mental standpoint, so now he has to go to work to address those issues. Otherwise, we will be talking about a similar story at this point next year.

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Photo: Flickr

Barry Odom And The Missouri Tigers Shouldn’t Be Locked Into Drew Lock

Barry Odom’s first 14 games as head coach of the Missouri Tigers have been turbulent. His team went 4-8 in 2016 and he’s off to a 1-1 start in 2017. When a team goes 5-9, I could create a hypothesis for any number of reasons for the abysmal results. I’m choosing to focus on two.

Leadership and quarterback play.

Odom’s leadership ability should be questioned based on how he has handled the defensive deficiencies of this team. Few people took issue with the Odom’s hiring of Demontie Cross as defensive coordinator. Cross is the dreaded True Son, but he was a highly qualified True Son. The glaring defensive issues of the past two years were due in large part to a change in scheme. Odom allowed Cross to change the style of play from the attacking style that had been recruited for to a read-and-react style. It didn’t work during the first half of the 2016 season and Odom mandated a midseason change. Not only that, but Odom assumed defensive play-calling responsibilities.

These changes gave us all reason for hope in 2017. Missouri fans thought we had seen the last of the failed read-and-react scheme, but rumor has it that it was on full display during the first half of the game against Missouri State. You remember that game. It’s the one where the Tigers game up 43 points, and 492 yards. The silver lining in that game was that the second half looked significantly better than the first half. Word on the street is that the defense went back to its attacking style in the second half.

Defensively the team looked better against South Carolina. There were still issues in the back-seven, but the lineman were creating pressure. The reason Missouri lost to South Carolina was not the fault of the defense. But that didn’t seem to matter to Odom as he fired Cross on Sunday afternoon.

This was a firing of convenience. Cross hasn’t been solely responsible for the defense since the beginning of the 2016 season. Odom forced a scheme change and, more importantly, took control of the in-game play calling responsibilities. Why Odom would have agreed to a scheme change when he was promoted to head coach is a real head scratcher since Missouri had won two SEC East titles on the back of attacking defenses. But it was a decision that was made. The wrong coach was fired when Cross was let go but Odom wasn’t going to fire himself. Cross became the sacrificial lamb being offered to the fans.

Now that you’ve read all of that, I’ll tell you what the real issue is. The quarterback play of Drew Lock.

Like Odom and Cross, Lock is also a True Son. He’s the son of former Tiger linebacker Andy Lock and coming out of high school, he was considered to be the kid with the golden arm. The problem being that he doesn’t have much going for him once you get past all of that arm talent.

There are times that the hype surrounding Lock is believable. The problem is that he looks Heisman caliber when he’s playing the likes of Delaware State and Missouri State. Against Power 5 opponents, Lock has averaged 188 yards per game, completed 49% of his passes, and has thrown 13 touchdowns to go along with 18 interceptions.

Not. Good. Enough.

Just look at how he played against South Carolina. He went 14-32 for 245 yards. Lock also threw one touchdown and two interceptions. A 43% completion percentage is atrocious. Even if we give him credit for the four blatant drops by the receivers, he still only completed 56% of his passes. And don’t forget that Missouri was up 10-0. Then the special teams kicked off to Deebo Samuel. Bad move. That momentum swing was capped off with a Lock interception.

Not. Good. Enough.

I considered Lock to be the real question mark going into this season. Was he going to be more Landry Jones in Josh Heupel’s offense? Or was he going to be more Blake Bell? If he was more Jones, his completion percentage would be in the 60s. If he was more Bell, it would be in the 50s. Completing 60% of his passes is where he needs to be in this offense. But Lock is a 50% passer who dips into the 40% range.

Again…Not. Good. Enough.

Both the defensive and quarterback issues are on Odom. He took responsibility for the defense but fired Cross anyway. Making that change two games into the season means that it should have been done in the off-season.

As for Lock? Odom seems to be content with the True Son as I’ve yet to hear about the backup quarterback warming up. What’s that going to take? A 30% completion percentage?

The defense is now squarely on Odom’s shoulders as he no longer has Cross around to take the criticism from the fans. He gets more leniency from the fans when it comes to Lock since many of the fans love the kid-with-the-golden-arm-who-can’t-hit-the-broadside-of-a-barn. The problem for Odom is that Jim Sterk isn’t afraid to fire a True Son.

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E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

 

SEC Champions? Oh Lord, Won’t You Take Me to Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Rejoice! Kickoff is one week from tomorrow! Actually, the Arkansas Razorbacks will tee it up on Thursday. Their “competition?” The mighty Rattlers of Florida A&M. And then on Saturday, some of the other SEC related games include Missouri playing Missouri State, Georgia hosting Appalachian State,  Charleston Southern will play at Mississippi State… ad nauseum.

But! There are some big games on the slate for opening weekend with the monster clash between Alabama and Florida State headlining them all.

Now it’s time for me to summon my crystal ball and look into the future. I hope gazing at the eclipse didn’t blur my powers of prognostication.

Onward!

SEC EAST 

Florida (8-4, 6-2) I like the Gators’ big uglies, their defense, and their skill position players. But, just like everybody else, the quarterback position is the key. They will plug in someone who is more than capable to put them at the top of the East.

Tennessee (9-3, 5-3) The Vols will have more total wins than anyone else in the division but they will also have more conference losses than the Gators. That head to head matchup will decide which team makes the trek to Atlanta.

Georgia (8-4, 5-3) You gotta love the Dawgs’ running backs and their overall talent, but it will be their inconsistent play at quarterback and in the trenches that will cause the East title to elude them.

Kentucky (8-4, 5-3) I like the Cats as the sleeper to win this division. There is talent in Lexington but probably not enough SEC quality depth to carry them to Hotlanta. I’d love to see it though!

South Carolina (6-6, 3-5) Will Muschamp’s second year in Columbia will find an improved team, but the record will not reflect that. They’re in good shape at quarterback with Jake Bentley.

Vanderbilt (3-9, 1-7) Derek Mason has the Commodores playing pretty well. I like Kyle Shurmur as their signal-caller. But do not expect Vandy to rise any higher than sixth in the division.

Missouri (4-8, 0-8) The upside is the offensive potential, and QB Drew Lock, in Columbia. Overall, though, Barry Odom’s second year might not turn out any better than his first.

SEC West

Auburn (11-1, 7-1) Talent, depth, experience, and coaching will combine to make this one of those highly memorable seasons down on the Plains. Jarrett Stidham will, indeed, turn out to be the straw that stirs the drink. And the home finale with Alabama will finally go Auburn’s way again.

Alabama (10-2, 7-1)  Loaded. Every year. But the season will begin and end with losses which will keep the Crimson Tide from their fourth straight College Football Playoff appearance.

Texas A&M (9-3, 6-2) Kevin Sumlin steps down off the hot seat with a very good season in College Station. And the Aggies pick up some big wins on the way to a solid 9-3 campaign.

LSU (9-3, 5-3) Coach O won’t be able to bring home a ring in his first full season in Red Stick. I still have my doubts about the Tigers’ long term prospects, as well, in spite of their talent level.

Arkansas (7-5, 4-4) Bret Bielema and his Hawgs continue to battle the mediocrity that has beset them in Fayetteville. This year will bring no relief. Austin Allen provides great talent, tenacity, and leadership behind center, but the West is too strong to allow for a climb up the ladder.

And then… the Mississippis. The six and seven slots in the division are interchangeable.

Mississippi State (5-7, 1-7) I’ll go with State, Dan Mullen, and Nick Fitzgerald to keep the Bulldogs out of the cellar. And, they will probably notch more than the one conference win I have allowed them.

Ole Miss (4-8, 1-7) Two words. Dumpster fire.

So there you have it! According to my mighty powers of perception, note that I never use the term “reality” in my fearless forecast, the Auburn Tigers will meet the aforementioned Florida Gators in Atlanta, GA on December 2nd for the championship of the Southeastern Conference.

Who will win that contest? Yes, it will be my Tigers! And they will go on to make the College Football Playoff, along with the Florida State Seminoles, the Ohio State Buckeyes, and the Washington Huskies.

You may now wipe those tears away, whether they be tears of joy or of sadness. My guess is you might have sprayed your morning coffee or evening cocktail all over your phone or computer screen at the sheer hilarity of such humorous predictions! That’s ok.

For again I say, rejoice!

College football is upon us!

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E-mail Bird at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Autull.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A Lack of Talent is the Problem at Mizzou

The Missouri Tigers have problems. Reading those words should not create a shocked expression on your face. This team having problems shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but what should come as a surprise is just how many problems the team has on the field.

Having problems shouldn’t come as a surprise for several reasons. Those reasons include having been garbage last year and having a new coaching staff this year. Not only is the coaching staff new, but the team is led by Barry Odom, who has no previous head coaching experience at the college level. All of this adds up to a bad recipe. But even I didn’t think the recipe would be as bad as it’s been. My preseason prediction was just a little off.

[Seth Merenbloom:  Barry Odom is the New Missouri Tigers Football Coach: Another True Son Comes Home]

You may be asking yourself where the problems start and I have an answer for you. The problems start with talent. This team doesn’t have nearly enough talent on the roster. Sure, Odom is playing primarily with Gary Pinkel’s recruits and Pinkel excelled at finding diamonds in the rough. But there are more cubic zirconia on this roster than diamonds.

There are some players that are legitimate SEC caliber players. I’m talking about guys like Josh Augusta, Terry Beckner Jr. and Aarion Penton. And there are others on the roster who have potential but are still young. Those are players like Drew Lock and Damarea Crockett. But players like this are few and far between at Mizzou.

This lack of talent also means that there is a severe lack of depth. And a lack of depth not only influences the ability for the backups to compete against other SEC rosters, but it also influences how those top tier guys play. I’m not saying that Mizzou’s legitimate SEC caliber players are lazy, but competition breeds results and these players aren’t being pushed in practice.

And that leads me to the most important position on the field: Quarterback.

I was excited when Lock committed to Mizzou. He has the physical tools to be a successful SEC quarterback. I can only hope that he has the mental tools to be a successful SEC quarterback. But what we’ve seen from him so far leads me to question what is going on between his ears. But I am willing to keep my faith in Lock for one reason. He’s still young.

Yes, Lock played last season as a true freshman, but that was due to the situation that now departed quarterback Maty Mauk created. Lock was thrown into the fire when he really wasn’t ready. So I consider this to be his freshman season. Based on that reasoning, this year shouldn’t tell us much about what he will become at Mizzou. My apologies to TJ Moe, but Lock has never been the best quarterback in the SEC. I don’t care how good he looked against Eastern Michigan or Delaware State.

Next year is the year that will tell me what I need to know about Lock. He’ll have been in Josh Heupel’s system for over a year and will be a Junior. If he isn’t able to do more than just throw a pretty ball against teams like Delaware State then Odom and Heupel need to move on from the Lock experiment. And that goes back to one of my original points. To move on from Lock requires there to be depth behind him. Right now that depth just isn’t there. Sure there are fans begging for Marvin Zanders to play significant snaps but i’d be shocked if he created a Mizzou pulse against SEC competition.

Ultimately this all falls on the coaching staff. No, the coaches don’t strap helmets on and play the game, but the coaches are the ones who recruit and put the roster together. The coaches are also responsible for the development of that talent.

The assistant coaching staff that Odom put together is impressive on paper. He hired guys who coached at Oklahoma, Baylor and TCU. But here’s the thing. Those teams had incredible talent so it was easy for those coaches to look like football wizards. So like I said, it starts with recruiting. Who on this staff is going to sign the talent that will make them all look like geniuses? Every Mizzou fan is waiting to find out.

 

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

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SEC Quarterbacks Are Downright Unimpressive

Anybody who knows me at all knows that I have a special place in my heart for SEC football. I really do. But I can’t sit by and be silent about this. The SEC quarterbacks, once again, look overwhelmingly bad. At the risk of sounding cliché, watching the SEC quarterback play so far this year is like watching paint dry.

I can’t think of a single SEC quarterback who actually excites me right now. Meanwhile, I can think of four or five ACC quarterbacks that do. This is madness. How does the conference with the most ranked teams have the worst quarterbacks? I just don’t get it.

Usually, the SEC East is a mess and the SEC West is great. This year, everybody except for Alabama (and maybe Texas A&M) is a mess. Yet somehow there are still eight teams ranked in the AP top 25 at the moment. I’ll let you in on a little something, though—they definitely aren’t ranked because of their quarterbacks.

So here is where I go through every SEC team, by division and in alphabetical order, to prove a point. I’ll keep the assessment for each team brief.

The Florida Gators have been starting Luke Del Rio at quarterback. On the season so far he has 762 passing yards, 6 touchdowns, and two interceptions. But unfortunately for the Gators, he’s sidelined due to a knee injury and they’ll have to rely on Purdue graduate transfer Austin Appleby for now. Just when they were getting some momentum…

The Georgia Bulldogs seemed pretty well-off as far as quarterbacks go when the season started. Both Greyson Lambert (who was solid last year) and Jacob Eason (who’s a true freshman) have taken snaps for the Dawgs, with Eason taking the majority of the snaps. Eason has racked up 643 yards passing, five touchdowns, and two interceptions. Not bad…and also not fantastic.

The Kentucky Wildcats have played both Drew Barker and Stephen Johnson at quarterback, but Barker went down against New Mexico State and Kentucky has had more success with Johnson now anyways. He has 355 yards passing, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. In the second week at Florida, Drew Barker actually threw three interceptions to the Florida defense and only completed two passes to his own players. Oops!

The Missouri Tigers have mostly stuck with quarterback Drew Lock so far this season. A bright spot in the East, he has 1106 passing yards, nine touchdowns, and three interceptions. But, the Tigers are still struggling, only managing to win one of their first three games this season.

The South Carolina Gamecocks haven’t had all that much luck at quarterback between Brandon McIlwain and Perry Orth. McIlwain has been slightly better than his competition, with 356 yards passing, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. He also added 80 yards rushing and two more touchdowns on the ground. But with Muschamp at the helm, I don’t know if they’ll ever have great quarterback play.

The Tennessee Volunteers have had pretty much the same Josh Dobbs they’ve been behind for a couple years now. So far his passing game leaves a lot to be desired with 486 passing yards, six touchdowns, and three interceptions. On the bright side, he has added 161 yards rushing and three touchdowns on the ground. He’s also been a great leader despite being behind a shaky offensive line.

The Vanderbilt Commodores have struggled offensively (as always) behind Kyle Shurmur so far this year. He’s had 335 yards passing for two touchdowns and one interception. If Shurmur could get it together, maybe they could actually win a couple conference games this season.

But wait…there’s more! We still have another division full of mediocre quarterbacks to go.

The Alabama Crimson Tide have had Jalen Hurts take the majority of their snaps at quarterback this year. He has 563 passing yards, four touchdowns, and one interception. He’s also added 197 rushing yards and two more touchdowns on the ground. Plus, they’re Alabama. Their quarterback play won’t make or break their season.

The Arkansas Razorbacks have stuck with Austin Allen as their quarterback so far this season. Allen has 655 yards passing, seven touchdowns, and two interceptions. He’s been good so far; he just hasn’t been outstanding.

The Auburn Tigers had some fun at quarterback against Clemson to open the season, but Sean White is now taking the snaps. He has 510 passing yards, three touchdowns, and one interception so far. Meh.

The LSU Tigers started off the season behind Brandon Harris at quarterback but have since given the nod to Danny Etling. Etling has 315 passing yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. He also does have one rushing touchdown. He may not be great, but I think he’s better than Harris.

The Mississippi State Bulldogs have played both Nick Fitzgerald and Damian Williams at quarterback so far this year. Fitzgerald has edged out Williams with 298 passing yards, two touchdowns, and one interception to Williams’ 237 passing yards and two touchdowns. Additionally, Fitzgerald has 219 yards on the ground and Williams has 88 yards as well as a touchdown. While they seem fairly evenly matched, neither is too exciting at this point.

The Ole Miss Rebels have Chad “Swag” Kelly, who was supposed to be the best quarterback in the nation. Kelly does have 953 passing yards and ten touchdowns, but he also has four interceptions. The Rebels will live and die by Kelly this season so those mistakes are costly.

The Texas A&M Aggies have Trevor Knight at quarterback. Knight has 830 passing yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions. He also has 151 rushing yards and three more touchdowns on the ground. He’s no Lamar Jackson, but he’s better than most SEC quarterbacks.

Now that you’ve made it through that, maybe you can understand why I’m just unimpressed with the SEC quarterbacks at this point. You know things are rough when Missouri arguably has the best quarterback at the moment. Missouri…a team that has lost two of their first three games. I guess you could argue that Trevor Knight is just as good since he’s more of a dual-threat quarterback. But either way, those two are the best the SEC has to offer right now and that’s not good.

Now, I understand that just looking at these stats isn’t really fair in a lot of ways. Offensive lines not giving time to throw or space to run can be absolutely devastating for quarterbacks. Receivers dropping passes can be just as bad. And facing good secondary units can also be incredibly tough for a quarterback. But even with those things in mind, there isn’t a single quarterback in the SEC that has really impressed me or excited me the way quarterbacks in other conferences have. I didn’t expect there to be a Heisman trophy-winning quarterback from the SEC, but I also didn’t expect the performances to be this lackluster.

Fortunately for SEC fans and our quarterbacks, football isn’t just about that one player taking the snaps. In the SEC it tends to be more about running backs and defenses. That’s probably why there’s still a whopping eight SEC football teams ranked in the AP Top 25, like I mentioned before. And as much as quarterback play can be fun to watch, I prefer watching some hard-hitting SEC defense anyways. So maybe I should save my complaining for the day the defenses are weak.

Here’s the big question for this year will SEC teams be able to compete in the postseason when these SEC quarterbacks are playing like this? If you ask me, it depends on the team. If you have a great defense, a solid offensive line, and a good back or two, then you can compete with anyone. That’s why Alabama is virtually unstoppable. But otherwise, you’ll just become another overrated SEC team. And nobody wants that.

And then there’s the other big question. Why is this such a problem for the SEC and will it continue next year? In all honesty, I still haven’t figured out why the SEC doesn’t have the same quarterback depth that the other major conferences do. But this isn’t something new by any means. And while it may get a little better next season as some of the guys mentioned above take more snaps and gain experience, I don’t expect the SEC to have phenomenal quarterback play anytime soon. I’ll leave that to the ACC for now.

You can email Kristen at kri[email protected] and follow her on Twitter @OGKristenB.

Image courtesy of Ken Lund.

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The Missouri Tigers Will Restore Their Roar in 2016

The sound we heard coming out of Columbia, Missouri last year was of a whimpering Missouri Tigers football team, but now, in 2016, everyone should be prepared for Missouri to restore some of its roar.

Now don’t misunderstand what I mean when I say “roar.” I don’t expect the Tigers to challenge for the SEC East crown in 2016 but I also don’t believe some of the national so-called experts to be correct when they picked Missouri to finish dead last in the East.

Let me say it again to anyone who thinks this Missouri team is going to finish last in the East… Not gonna happen!

The reasons that Missouri will restore its SEC East roar in 2016 is for two reasons. The first being what has become the cornerstone of the Tiger program and that’s the defense. You know what they say; death, taxes and a strong Missouri defense. The second reason being that their offense can’t possibly be as statistically bad as it was in 2015.

Sure, Missouri’s defensive line coach, Craig Kuligowski, left to join Mark Richt at Miami, but there is enough talent left on defense that new defensive line coach Jackie Shipp should still have guys like Charles Harris meeting at the quarterback.

As for the defensive coordinator, well, former TCU defensive coordinator Demontie Cross (and former Tiger player) was brought in once Barry Odom was promoted to head coach. Cross’ defensive units played well at TCU and we should expect nothing less from his Missouri defenses.

Now about that offense…

Offensive line coach AJ Ricker and offensive coordinator Josh Henson are each no longer with the team. They were basically public enemy 1 and 2 with the Missouri fans last season, so nobody lost sleep when they were replaced with Glen Elarbee and Josh Heupel.

On the offensive line, Elarbee won’t have guys who have much starting experience, but he will have guys who have been in the program. Rumor around town is that he is instilling more of a mean streak in how the big boys up front play. I’m of the mindset that it starts in trenches, so I hope that this rumor is actually reality.

Heupel comes in with, well, a lot of hype. Yea, I see what I did there and you see what I did there. But back to business…

His offenses at Oklahoma were prolific. Sure, he had Heisman caliber skill position players in the Sooner Schooner, but he was also responsible for putting those players in position to maximize their talents. His offense at Utah State was also effective even when tasked with working around injured quarterbacks.

Heupel will have an experienced quarterback in Drew Lock and a starting running back in Alex Ross who, after transferring from Oklahoma, should know exactly what is expected in a Heupel offense. If the offensive line gives Lock and Ross time to operate, Heupel’s offense could really hum.

As I’ve said before, Odom does have an uphill battle at Missouri, but the Oklahoma influence that he has embedded at Mizzou should pay dividends. I say this because Oklahoma has been all about winning, so this Sooner influence will always be one that starts with a simple question – Can we win at an elite level?

What does all of this mean as far as wins and losses in 2016? Glad you asked…

I expect this team to win 7 or 8 games and this should be good enough for a 3rd or 4th place finish in the SEC East. You’re probably thinking that to win this many games a few upsets would need to occur and you would be correct. Look for Missouri to beat Georgia, particularly if Jacob Eason is the starting quarterback, and look for Missouri to go to The Swamp and beat Florida.
Oh, and because I can never put my animosity towards Tennessee aside, expect one helluva ball game in Knoxville this year.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom

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Mauk Suspension Means Lock Debut

Earlier this evening the University of Missouri suspended starting quarterback Maty Mauk for this week’s game against South Carolina. The team was not specific about the circumstances that lead to the suspension other than to say the suspension was for a “violation of team policies”. Back up offensive lineman Malik Cuellar was also suspended but the major news is Mauk.

Under Mauk, the Mizzou offense has been bad this season. After a solid game against Southeast Missouri to start the year, the Tigers offense has gone downhill. They put up only nine points against Connecticut two weeks ago before losing to Kentucky in their SEC opener last week. Mauk has picked a bad time to play the worst football of his career with a major prospect in true freshman Drew Lock waiting in the wings.

Lock has looked good while getting his feet wet in limited playing time this season. Considering he is only a true freshman, Lock has moved the ball well and stayed poise in the pocket. While he hasn’t been perfect, the game hasn’t looked too big or fast for him. Combine Lock’s good performances with how bad Mauk has looked this year and the screams for Lock to take over the starting job have gotten louder every week.

We don’t know what rule was broken by Mauk, but it could have ended Mauk’s run as the starting quarterback at Mizzou. I have to think if Lock plays decent and wins it would be hard for head coach Gary Pinkel to put Mauk back in the starter spot. If Lock plays well and the offense looks efficient on the way to an easy win, than there is no chance Mauk gets his job back. The only way Mauk gets his job back is if Lock looks over matched and the Mizzou offense continues its recent struggles.

One thing is for certain, Mauk’s suspension has led to the most anticipated starting debut by a Tiger since Dorial Green-Beckham. It will be a hot topic on all the local talk shows tomorrow and is sure to be a headline on ESPN College Gameday Saturday morning. Mauk could be standing on the sidelines in a t-shirt on Saturday while his era at Mizzou comes to an end and the Drew Lock era begins.

Is There A QB Controversy at MU?

After week one of the college football season the Missouri Tigers are 1-0 and look a lot like the Tigers we’ve come to know. The Tigers beat Southeast Missouri State 34-3 at Faurot field and the game wasn’t as close as the score would suggest. The defense was as dominate as ever causing two turnovers and keeping the Redhawks from sniffing the end zone. The offense was potent even without their All American center Evan Boehm and running back Russell Hansbrough who left early in the first quarter with ankle injuries.

Normally winning a game against a team like SEMO wouldn’t mean a whole lot to me. It was a game Mizzou was favored by 41 ½ points and the game was never in doubt. Early games like this are really college football’s version of pre-season. But something made this game different for me and Mizzou fans everywhere. What made me excited watching this game was the performance of true freshman quarterback Drew Lock.

Lock has been turning heads at Mizzou since he first stepped foot on campus late in the spring. He dominated the scrimmages through the summer that it almost forced Head Coach Gary Pinkel to name him the backup QB heading into the year. Despite his production most fans, myself included, expected Mizzou to red-shirt the freshman Lock since they still have junior starter Maty Mauk. But Pinkel decided to burn the red-shirt and put Lock right into action in the first game.

The first action for the six foot four, 210 pound freshman came early in the second quarter. Lock didn’t disappoint, going 4-5 for fifty-one yards leading Mizzou to a field goal. Lock didn’t play again until halfway through the fourth quarter when he was put in for mop up duties. He did more than just mop up as he rolled out to his left from his own twenty-two yard line. As he got to the left hash he stopped, set his feet and threw across the field to a wide open Tyler Hunt at the SEMO forty-two. When I say wide open, I mean there wasn’t a player within twenty yards of him in any direction. Hunt then easily ran the remaining forty-two yards for a seventy-eight yard touchdown throw and catch. The first touchdown of what myself, and other fans like me, think will be many more. Lock finished the game going 6-10 for 138 yards and one touchdown. Those are great numbers for a first start, but to have a QB controversy you must have two QBs.

That other QB Mauk played well, going 12-22 for 181 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Mauk was going deep all game long with at least ten of his twenty-two pass attempts traveling twenty yards or more in the air. As usual in a Mauk game he made some plays and throws that are Sportscenter Top Ten worthy while also make plays that were Not Top Ten worthy.

Mauk has always been a Brett Favre gun slinger type quarterback. He has a cannon for an arm and there has never been a pass he didn’t think he could make, no matter how tight the window. Mauk has a completion percentage in the low fifty’s with a touchdown to interception ratio just over two to one. These are stats a lot of fans and so called “experts” see as bad and a reason to panic about Mauk. Those stats are important, but what I care about is the only stat that really matters, he’s 15-3 as a starter at Mizzou. He’s helped lead Mizzou to back to back SEC East titles and back to back bowl wins. He’s clutch and has the ice in his veins that is needed for the close games in the SEC.

This leaves many Mizzou fans and the media questioning if there is a real QB controversy in Columbia, MO. The answer to that question is a simple no, not for 2015. Maty Mauk will start every game for Mizzou in 2015 unless he gets injured. Lock will continue to get reps in games and will play plenty in blow outs, but that is all he’ll get. Anybody who has watched Mizzou for the last decade understands that this is what Pinkel does. He started it with Chase Daniel getting snaps during Brad Smith’s senior season, I’m sure no one forgets the game against Iowa State that year. He has done this with every young QB he’s brought through the system since, including Mauk getting snaps from James Franklin two seasons ago.

The only difference between those previous duos and the current 2015 situation is that Mauk still has one year of eligibility left. So what does that mean for the 2016 QB situation, I have no idea and in 2015 I’m not worried about it. What I’m worried about in 2015 is going back to the SEC title game for the third year in a row. I believe Mauk is Mizzou’s best chance to make that happen and I believe he will make that happen. I believe Lock is going to be a great QB at Mizzou and possibly play in the NFL one day. But for 2015, I am hitching my wagon to Mauk and ready to watch him light up the scoreboards in the SEC. Of course there is nothing wrong with having probably the best backup QB in the country, outside of Ohio State, as an insurance policy.