After a rough freshman season, Mizzou QB Drew Lock took a major step forward as a sophomore in 2016.
Though the Tigers actually won one fewer game last fall than the year before, Lock was one of the SEC’s best quarterbacks, finishing second in the conference with 3,399 passing yards.
However, heading into the 2017 season, Mizzou needs him to be even better, as the Tigers still have some major question marks to overcome on defense.
With the flashes of brilliance he showed last season, Lock has the ability to be the best quarterback in the conference this fall. But can he turn in the best season in Mizzou history?
Let’s take a look at what he needs to accomplish in order to set some school records.
Even with last year’s fantastic numbers, Lock still has a long way to go before he can compete for some of Chase Daniel’s school records.
Back in the late 2000s — a golden era in Missouri football — Daniel put together some of the best statistics of anybody in the country, particularly during the 2008 season. Here’s a look at some of the school records Lock will be gunning for this fall:
- Passing yards: 4,335 by Chase Daniel in 2008
- Passing TDs: 39 by Daniel in 2008
- Most passes attempted: 563 by Daniel in 2007
- Most passes completed: 385 by Daniel in 2008
Though Lock has the advantage of playing in second-year coordinator Josh Heupel’s fast-paced offense, he’ll still have his work cut out for him if he wants to match Daniel’s magical 2008 season. In 2016, Lock finished short of Daniel’s single-season records by 936 passing yards, 16 touchdowns, 148 completions and 129 attempts.
If Mizzou can play better against top SEC competition, Lock will have more opportunities to throw the ball. Last year, he struggled mightily in games against LSU, Florida and Tennessee while racking up stats against lesser opponents. If he can perform better against top schools while still beating up on weaker foes, he could end up challenging some of the above numbers.
Lock will have trouble matching some of Daniel’s raw numbers, but these statistics may be a little more in reach for the junior quarterback:
- Completion percentage: 72.9 — Chase Daniel (2008)
- Interception percentage: 1.6 — Brad Smith (2002)
- Passer efficiency rating: 159.4 — Daniel (2008)
Last year, Lock’s passer efficiency rating was 133.3, and that came as he completed only 54.6 percent of his throws (a number he recently called “horse poop”).
If he can bump up his completion percentage while maintaining a low interception percentage (only 2.3 percent of his passes were picked off last year), he could set Mizzou records for interception percentage and passer efficiency.
By doing that, he’ll help put the Tigers in better positions to win games against top-level opponents, which will only serve to help his case for greatest season by a Mizzou quarterback.
This will be the toughest area for Lock to surpass guys like Daniel, Smith and Blaine Gabbert, as those three had better teams surrounding them.
Daniel presided over a golden era of Missouri football, which saw the Tigers reach No. 1 in the AP Poll for the first time since 1960. It’s a safe bet that Lock’s 2017 squad won’t reach those heights, though it won’t be the quarterback’s fault.
Mizzou finished the 2007 season with 12 wins, going 11-1 in the regular season before losing the Big 12 championship game and then beating Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl.
Expectations will be lower for Lock, who doesn’t have a chance to win 12 games this year but could lead the Tigers to their first bowl game since 2014, when they won the SEC East. Should he pick up six or seven victories, most Mizzou fans will be happy.
Can he do it?
To reach the point where he can surpass some of Daniel’s records, Lock will almost certainly need to play in a bowl game. After all, he finished second in the SEC to Arkansas’s Austin Allen in passing yards in 2016, turning in 31 fewer yards than the Razorbacks’ star while playing in one fewer game.
That’s certainly a reasonable goal heading into the 2017 campaign, as anything less than six wins should be considered a disappointment.
However, even if Lock has a big season, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to fully erase Daniel’s name from the Mizzou record books. Unless the Tigers greatly improve on defense this year, he simply won’t have the ball in his hands enough to rack up the stats Daniel did back in 2008, when Mizzou went 10-4 and defeated Northwestern in the Alamo Bowl.
Still, he should be even better as a junior than he was as a sophomore, and that will be a lot of fun for Mizzou fans to watch.