By Kyle Weber
HOOVER – With one of the top quarterbacks in the country returning, Missouri looks to bounce back after a rocky first year under coach Barry Odom.
Missouri will be led by junior quarterback Drew Lock, who is coming off a record-breaking sophomore season in which he threw for 3,999 yards and 23 touchdowns.
“The way he has commanded running the offense, he has become a real student of the game,” Odom said Wednesday at SEC Media Days.
Lock will have a very experienced offensive unit surrounding him this fall, with the Tigers returning 10 offensive starters, including the entire offensive line.
Missouri also returns sophomore tailback Damarea Crockett. Crocket broke Missouri freshman records for rushing touchdowns (10) and rushing yards (1,062).
“Damarea has to be ready to carry the load for us, he played well down the stretch and he has had a tremendous offseason. He’s a mature kid,” Odom said.
Missouri has to replace defensive lineman Charles Harris, a first-round NFL draft selection. Since 2009, Missouri has had six defensive lineman drafted in the first round.
“We’ve had more first-round picks on the defensive line than anyone the last few years,” Odom said.
Odom is confident in the defensive line that he has coming back. One of the players giving him confidence is junior defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr., who returns from a leg injury sustained last season. As a freshman, Beckner recorded 27 tackles and three sacks, and was recognized on the SEC All-Freshman team in 2015.
“Terry Beckner inside can be a very special player,” Odom said.
Missouri, which went 4-8 last season (2-6 in SEC play) will open Sept. 2 at home against Missouri State.
Head Coach: Barry Odom
2016 Record: 4-8 (2-6)
Returning Starters: 15
Toughest question Odom faced: There’s been a lot of realignment talk this offseason mostly from the Auburn side. I have not heard a lot from the Missouri side. What are your thoughts on that and what would it be like if you were in the SEC West one day?
Odom’s reply: “I look at it as having an opportunity to be where I am at on the week with president—or with Commissioner Sankey already giving his comments on realignment. You know, it’s not been on any agenda item that I know of. He addressed it pretty well. Right now, I need to focus on making sure that Mizzou football is as good as we can get on the schedule we play and the division we play. So, I’m excited where we are, and we’ll stand with Commissioner Sankey on our conference stand on that,” Odom said.
You need to know: Missouri returns one of the nation’s best passers in Junior Drew Lock. Lock threw for 3999 yards and 23 touchdowns as a sophomore, ranking in the top ten nationally. With 20 starts under his belt, lock holds the Missouri record for passing yards in a 12-game season, and has the six most touchdowns in program history.
Best player quote: “Missouri is a great place, I love Missouri. I am a homegrown boy. I grew up in Kansas City. I love Columbia; I came to a lot of football games when I was younger. There has been a lot of great leadership put into our facilities now and some may not have acknowledged that before. When we start winning football games and winning the SEC Championship game, I do believe the enrollment will go up,” Quarterback Drew Lock said while discussing how winning games can help change the perception of the University of Missouri.