Drew Lock vs. Jake Bentley. A showdown that wasn't
The Week 2 matchup between Mizzou QB Drew Lock and South Carolina QB Jake Bentley was supposed to be one of the best quarterback matchups in the SEC this year.
A battle for the ages. Manning vs. Brady, with an accent. Heck, even Watson vs. Hurts would have been good enough.
Instead, fans watched a dud of a performance from both sides, as Lock and Bentley threw for a grand total of one touchdown in the first half and combined for only two in the game.
Still, considering Bentley’s Gamecocks won 31-13, he was the clear “winner” in the letdown of a showdown.
Even though both quarterbacks only threw for one touchdown and Lock had more yards (245 to 187), Bentley managed to avoid the big mistakes, unlike Lock, who fired two interceptions.
Here are a few takeaways from Saturday night’s inspiring South Carolina victory:
Bentley had a couple of receivers open on the first drive but missed them high, which is usually a sign of too much adrenaline.
Lock didn’t have a great first half, either, throwing an uncharacteristic interception on an out route early to set South Carolina up in good field position.
He settled into more of a rhythm later, but still only managed to complete 18 of 28 passes for only 6.7 yards per attempt.
Though he didn’t have his best effort by any measure, he managed to do what was necessary to guide his team to a big win, while Lock hurt the Tigers with a couple of costly mistakes to end Missouri drives.
Lock not throwing much early
RB Damarea Crockett was carrying the load for the Tigers early, seemingly getting five or more yards every time he touched the ball.
However, Crockett’s running only bent the South Carolina defense, but the Gamecocks didn’t break, allowing zero touchdowns on the ground.
Gone were the play-action passes and deep throws that led to so many touchdowns against Missouri State. Instead, the offense took a major step backward in the shockingly inept loss to the Gamecocks.
Lock threw the ball more as the game went on but didn’t manage to complete half of his attempts as the Tigers’ offense faltered on the big stage.
Lock had several passes dropped by wide open receivers, but he also hurt himself by firing into tight coverage on several occasions, too.
While the game was still close, he threw two interceptions, something very uncharacteristic of the junior quarterback.
Interestingly, Lock also threw for fewer than 300 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions during last year’s loss to South Carolina, so perhaps coach Will Muschamp simply has Lock’s number.
Getting the tight ends involved
Lock found Jason Reese for a long touchdown in the first half, and Bentley responded with a long TD pass to Hayden Hurst late in the third quarter.
Hayden Hurst! Finally! pic.twitter.com/8DGynNsHZ5
— Garnet&BlackAttack (@GABAttack) September 10, 2017
Hurst now has as many touchdowns (one) as he did all of last year, which is shocking considering how talented he is.
Hurst only had three catches for 69 yards, but he still was a much of a game changer as either team had in the passing game Saturday night.
New year, same problems
Last year, Lock dominated against lesser opponents and looked merely average when the Tigers took on tougher foes.
Based on Saturday night’s performance, that looks to be the case again this year, as he didn’t exactly light the scoreboard on fire against a mediocre South Carolina defense.
Yes, the Gamecocks have seemingly improved significantly on that side of the ball so far this year, but they’re still not exactly on the same level as LSU or last year’s Florida squad.
If the Tigers are going to make it to the postseason this year, they’re going to need Lock to throw the ball a whole lot better against SEC foes in the coming weeks.