Lock leads Missouri in rout of UT Martin
COLUMBIA (AP) — When Drew Lock found out in December that Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Heupel was leaving to become the head coach at Central Florida, Lock considered following him out the door and declaring for the NFL draft. The quarterback ultimately decided to return for his senior season.
Judging by the smile Lock wore after Missouri's 51-14 season-opening victory over Tennessee-Martin, he is happy with his decision. Lock completed 19 of 25 passes for 289 yards and four touchdowns in his first game under new offensive coordinator Derek Dooley.
"For him being a first-time play caller, he did great," Lock said of Dooley. "He knew when to press the tempo. He knew when to slow it down."
Last year, Missouri ranked eighth nationally in total offense and Lock threw 44 touchdown passes — a Southeastern Conference record. Heupel's offense used a frantic pace to limit opponents' ability to adjust or substitute, but it also limited Missouri's ability to use different formations and personnel.
Dooley has slowed the pace a bit. Against UT Martin, Missouri frequently used a double-tight end formation that allowed Albert Okwuegbunam and Kendall Blanton to play together. At 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds, Okwuegbunam sometimes split out wide.
"People are going to have to prep for a lot of different formations against us," Lock said. "It's going to be different. We're not just playing fast with similar formations where people can time up our stuff."
One thing that hasn't changed for Missouri is wide receiver Emanuel Hall's ability to get behind defensive backs. He caught four passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns.
A bright spot for the Skyhawks, an FCS program, was the play of their run defense. They held Missouri to 3.7 yards per carry. Linebacker James Gilleylen had three tackles for loss. But that commitment to stopping the run came at a price.
"We're not a man coverage team, but you saw us have to play it to get enough in the box in order to stop the run, and then the ball's 60 yards down the field and they run past us," UT Martin coach Jason Simpson said. "We're not the only ones they do that to. They've done it for the last couple of years."
The Skyhawks managed 277 total yards. Jamiee Bowe scored on a 1-yard run with 9:34 left in the second quarter. In the third quarter, LaDarius Galloway slipped out the backfield unnoticed and caught a 51-yard touchdown pass from Dresser Winn. Winn completed 15 of 24 passes for 168 yards.
Missouri led 38-7 at halftime. Lock exited the game after the first series of the third quarter but not before he passed Brad Smith into second place on Missouri's career passing list. With 8,984 yards, Lock now trails only Chase Daniel, who had 12,515 yards from 2005-08.
Missouri: Two true freshman wide receivers made big plays that suggested they might be significant contributors this season. On Lock's final pass, Kam Scott made a leaping catch and stepped out of a tackle on his way to a 70-yard touchdown.
"He did a fantastic job adjusting to the ball, went up and high-pointed it," Lock said. "He looked like a creature out there."
Jalen Knox outjumped a defender and hauled in a 38-yard pass from backup QB Taylor Powell in the third quarter.
UT Martin: The Skyhawks dropped to 1-25 all-time against FBS opponents, but their coach said the players remain eager to play against the best competition.
"Every one of them would still line up and do it again," Simpson said. "That's the largest group, biggest crowd they're going to play against this year."
A TREE GROWS
Last year, Hall caught 33 passes for 817 yards — an average of 24.8 per reception. In the preseason, he spoke of becoming a more complete player who is a threat running every branch of a wide receiver's route tree.
"If he can walk away from a game with four catches for 171 yards, I'll take that route tree every time," Missouri coach Barry Odom said. "I don't think anyone in our program has taken more positive steps as a total player. I don't think anyone's done as good a job as Emanuel Hall has. He's become more of a complete receiver."
Missouri escaped the season opener mostly unscathed. Kevin Pendleton, the regular starter at left guard, suffered a sprained knee in practice last week and didn't suit up. Odom said he should return to practice this week. Starting safety Khalil Oliver left the game with a sprained ankle, but Odom said he might have been able to return if the score was closer.
Missouri: The Tigers will play host to Wyoming.
UT Martin: The Skyhawks will visit Middle Tennessee State.