Missouri Tigers : Fall Camp Questions

Drew Lock is the man for Missouri. Can he improve on a lackluster freshman season?Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Drew Lock is the man for Missouri. Can he improve on a lackluster freshman season?Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports /

At last the long dark of the off-season is nearing its end. Football is less than one month away, and that means that Fall Camp is getting underway throughout the SEC. The month of August will be absolutely critical in determining how each team fares in September, October, November, and beyond. With that in mind, each team has pressing questions they have to answer before the end of the month. We will continue our series by taking a look at the questions facing Barry Odom and the Missouri Tigers.

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Who Steps up at WR?

Last season was a weird year for the Missouri receiving corps. The three starters: J’Mon Moore, Nate Brown, and Wesley Leftwich combined for 961 receiving yards. That number would be a middling season for one starting receiver, much less all three combined. If Missouri’s offense wants to get back to being dangerous, like it was in 2013 and 2014, someone needs to step up and be “the guy.”

Leftwich graduated, so that leaves Moore, Brown, Chris Black, and a slew of unproven youngsters behind them. Black is a graduate transfer from Alabama. During his time at UA, Black struggled with injuries and dropped passes. But for now he is healthy, and looking to win the slot-receiver job in his fifth and final collegiate season. Brown and Moore are both, tall, fast outside receivers who can run by corners or go up over the top of them and get it.

Verdict: I think Nate Brown has the tools to be a true number one receiver. He is big, 6’3″ 205, fast, and has good hands. He just needs better quarterback play, so he can blossom into a real weapon for Missouri.

Will Tre Williams Contribute as a Freshman?

Ever since the Tigers joined the SEC they have churned out quality defensive linemen. Here is a sampling of them: Shane Ray, Markus Golden, Sheldon Richardson, Michael Sam, and Kony Ealy. And the cupboard is still full, with guys like Charles Harris, Marcell Frazier, and Nate Howard. So how then is it possible that a lightly regarded three-star recruit could walk in and earn playing time as a freshman?

The answer is by being great at one particular aspect of the game and being used in packages where that aspect is paramount. For Williams that aspect is rushing the passer. He is reportedly an explosive athlete with the potential to be Aldon Smithesque. Defensive Line Coach Jackie ship said of Williams,

"“He runs well, plays extremely hard. I think he’s a very intelligent football player. I think his potential is unlimited, and by him putting in a lot of great, hard work, I think he can be a very special player.”"

Whether or not he reaches his potential remains to be seen.

Verdict: Yes. He won’t be a star. But he will see time in 3rd-and-long situations where he can pin his ears back and just get after the quarterback.

Can Drew Lock take the Next Step?

Drew Lock is unquestionably the starting quarterback at Missouri this season. This is despite the fact that his last season was, to be polite, a raging dumpster fire. He completed 49 percent of his passes for just 1332 yards with four touchdowns and eight interceptions. He was slow going through his progressions and made bad reads virtually all season..

“He’s just growing up,” Moore said of his quarterback in the spring. “I feel like he’s more in sync. He’s not as nervous. It’s not his first year anymore, and he’s not a little freshman.”

So why then is he penciled in as the starter? Well first he has all the tools to be a great quarterback. He has a rocket for an arm and he has decent mobility in the pocket. Second, his coaches say he has matured over the offseason. This was evident in Missouri’s spring game, where Lock was nine of 13 for 134 yards and two touchdowns.

Verdict: Yes. Lock was thrown into the fire before he was ready last season. This season he is experienced and more comfortable playing at the collegiate level. He will be much improved.

The Missouri Tigers have questions, as do all teams at this stage. How Coach Barry Odom answers them will determine how well the Tigers do this season. Let us know how you think he will handle them in the comments. And come back tomorrow to see which questions the Ole Miss Rebels are currently facing.