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Missouri 61, EMU 21: Trio of Tigers Toast Talons of Eagles’ Defense

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Young receivers breakout in blowout

NCAA Football: Eastern Michigan at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Lock has a cannon of an arm.

His touch and precision will come. After all, Saturday’s 61-21 victory over Eastern Michigan was only the sophomore’s 10th start.

What’s been helping him tremendously is throwing to receivers that have been creating what seems like oceans of separation between the opposing secondary. It allowed him to throw for 450 yards and five touchdowns, the latter of the two tied a school record. He set a career-high of 280 yards last week.

On Saturday, Mizzou fans witnessed the talents of the young receiving core. It was a coming out party for Emanuel Hall, Johnathon Johnson and Ray Wingo, who completely torched the Eagles’ secondary.

The trio’s ability to get behind defenders allowed Lock to accomplish a goal he set at halftime. After the Tigers scored 33 points the end of two quarters, Lock wanted more.

“I went in and told the guys, ‘that’s not enough for us,’” Lock said. “Thirty-three’s still going to get us the little sweep under the rug, like, ‘they only scored 33.’ So let’s come out and put 60 up on them.”

Hall burned the Eastern Michigan corner on the first offensive series. Lock put a beautifully-thrown ball right in his hands as he crossed the goal line. Just like that it was 7-0 Tigers. It was the first time Mizzou scored on the opening possession since the first game last season against SEMO.

“Drew threw a great ball and the line had great protection, it was just something we worked on at practice all week,” Hall said. “I was ‘I have to get it.’”

On the final play sluggish first quarter for the Tigers, Johnson went back to field a punt. He muffed it, drawing loud groans from the fans. He quickly picked the ball up, juked out a couple defenders, reversed the field, and raced his way into the end zone to close out the first quarter.

“It was scramble mode, man,” Johnson said. “I was just trying to get it back up and just clear it across field.”

As the first half winded down, Mizzou for the ball at its own 13. It took one play to score. Lock hit the redshirt freshman on a bubble screen and he took care of the rest, running past the Eagles for an 87-yard touchdown.

“Just give him a crease and he’s going to make something happen,” Barry Odom said. “He’s going to be a special one.”

The Tigers had another chance to score after the defense forced a three-and-out. With 1:13 left, offensive coordinator Josh Heupel allowed Lock to take another shot down the field. It was the redshirt sophomore Wingo’s turn. He blew past Eastern Michigan’s secondary and Lock found him in stride. His 68-yard reception set up a touchdown to Jason Reese.

Wingo and Lock hooked up again in the third quarter. He sped his way wide open for a 52-yard touchdown. The game had been effectively over, but this offense needed as many game-reps as it could.

Johnson was somewhat of a known commodity. He shined in last year’s fall camp, and likely would have played as a true frosh had he not injured his ankle. Johnson also started last week’s contest against West Virginia, but he and Lock couldn’t get on the same page.

He finished with five catches for 115 yards.

Wingo was going to have a role on the team, but wasn’t on the two-deep depth chart to start the season. That’s likely going to change after he burned the Eagles for 125 yards and a touchdown on only three catches.

Johnson and Wingo’s early success is encouraging for the Mizzou offense that’s still developing. After not having a 100-yard receiver all of last season, the Tigers now have four. And they haven’t been the same guys. J’Mon Moore and Chris Black eclipsed the mark last week, and both were all but silent this week. Black didn’t make a catch — he did have an eye-opening, 48-yard punt return that did not count at the end of the game due to penalty — and Moore only had one catch.

“I just think we came together,” Wingo said. “We just did what we wanted.”

The Eastern Michigan secondary won’t provide nearly the same challenge that Georgia will provide next week --- it was not good, to put it lightly --- but this game will at the least give these younger receivers and Lock some confidence going into conference play.