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It all comes full circle for Drew Lock

The South Carolina game doesn’t look as daunting as it once did, but it’s still important for Lock and Missouri.

Drew Lock Derrick Forsythe (Rock M Nation)

Nearly three years to the day, Drew Lock gets another shot to beat South Carolina.

On Oct. 3, 2015, doe-eyed freshman Drew Lock was forced into Missouri’s starting job. He took the helm of a team that stood 3-1 (0-1 in the SEC), coming off a close loss to an SEC East team.

On Oct. 6, 2018, steely-eyed senior Drew Lock has been Missouri’s unquestioned starter for three years. He’s at the helm of a team that stands 3-1 (0-1 in the SEC), coming off a closer-than-it-looked two-possession loss to an SEC East team.

Beyond those startling similarities, there’s this:

Drew Lock still has something to prove.

On Oct. 3, 2015, Lock had to prove that he was The Guy for Missouri. In his first career start — at home against the Gamecocks — Lock had to prove that all the preseason talk about his precocious talent wasn’t hot air. And, listen, it wasn’t. Lock was damn good during preseason camp in 2015. Gary Pinkel and the staff wanted to redshirt Lock; there were two older scholarship quarterbacks on the roster already in Eddie Printz and Marvin Zanders.

Lock played so well in camp that Pinkel COULDN’T redshirt him.

Against South Carolina, Lock wasn’t spectacular, but he was solid enough to show that he would be The Guy going forward. He completed 21-of-28 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns, and didn’t make many questionable throws at that. It was a safe game plan to minimize Lock’s exposure, but he followed it line-by-line in a 24-10 win over South Carolina.

At the time, it looked like it would be the first of many marquee wins for Lock.

What’s changed since then? Well, for one, the bottom fell out of that season, both for Missouri, for Lock and even for South Carolina. But what’s changed most is the fact that Lock is still searching for that next big-game performance.

The best win of Lock’s tenure? That’s most likely also the most emotional — a 20-16 win over BYU in Kansas City in 2015, a week after the announced boycott and days after Pinkel’s announcement of his impending retirement. That BYU team ended the season 9-4.

Missouri hasn’t beaten even an eight-win team since.

South Carolina, 2018, may not be an eight-win team. It may not even be a bowl team for all we know. But chances are running out for those marquee wins under Lock.

Here’s Lock’s average game against FBS non-winning opponents (14 total games):

  • 19-of-30 for 262 yards, 2.6 touchdowns, 0.6 interceptions.

And here’s his average game against FBS winning opponents (23 total games):

  • 16-of-32 for 215 yards, 1.3 touchdowns, 1 interception

No one knows how South Carolina will finish the season. While the Gamecocks are 2-2, both losses have come to ranked conference foes.

Four days ahead of the eighth-to-last regular-season game of Drew Lock’s career, the Gamecocks — at the current moment — present another chance for Missouri’s senior to begin a memorable finish to his career.

It’s only fitting that it comes against the same team that gave him a memorable start.