If Missouri had one clear advantage over Purdue heading into Saturday, it was at quarterback.
The Tigers had a Heisman candidate under center in Drew Lock, while the Boilermakers’ David Blough didn’t even start Week 1. Lock went into the night with 687 yards and eight touchdowns on the year, while Blough had just 122 yards and hadn’t registered a touchdown.
Then, the game happened.
Aided by DeMarkus Acy’s early exit with a concussion and the rest of the secondary’s struggles to cover consistently, Blough picked apart Missouri in the first half to the tune of 284 yards and two touchdowns. In the second half, he put up another 288 yards and a touchdown, and he almost led Purdue on a lead-changing drive until a touchdown pass to Jared Sparks was overturned.
Lock by no means had a bad game, recording 375 yards and three touchdowns and leading the Tigers on a game-winning drive in the final minutes, but Blough ultimately won the battle of the quarterbacks with a Boilermakers-record 572 yards and three touchdowns of his own.
A performance nobody saw coming.
Rountree breaks out, Crockett continues to struggle
Larry Rountree III had just 92 yards on 24 carries through the first two games for Missouri.
He couldn’t get much going against Wyoming and UT-Martin, and Lock even outrushed him in half the carries against the Cowboys. Rountree was given the chance to start heading into Saturday, though, and he didn’t disappoint.
The sophomore ran for 168 yards on 23 carries, including a 52-yarder that set up the Tigers’ first touchdown of the second half. His 7.3 yards-per-carry average was the highest in any of the three games for Missouri’s running backs, a showing the Tigers had been waiting for from Rountree.
Meanwhile, Damarea Crockett still hasn’t found his ground game.
Crockett had just six carries for 17 yards on the day for a 2.8 average, his worst of the season. He didn’t even touch the ball in the second half, and he had to sit back and watch Rountree and freshman Tyler Badie handle the rushing duties.
He already lost his starting spot to Rountree before the game, and if he doesn’t want to fall to No. 3 on the depth chart, he’ll have to show some sort of success on the ground when the Missouri hosts Georgia this week.
Other notable Week 3 stats
- Jalen Knox is the first receiver not named Emanuel Hall to lead the team in receiving yards in 2018. The freshman had 110 yards and a touchdown on just five receptions, and I think there’s a pretty strong chance he doesn’t take a redshirt this season.
- There wasn’t a single quarterback hurry for the defense, which was probably one of the main causes for Blough’s career night. Blough had a ton of time in the pocket all game, so applying pressure on the quarterback needs to be a key focus in preparation for SEC play.
- Checking back in on Lock’s record hunts: After his 375-yard performance Saturday, Lock now sits just 2,758 yards behind Chase Daniel in career-passing yards. With nine regular-season games left, Lock needs to average about 307 yards-per-game to pass Daniel, a number that’s looking more and more attainable by the week. Also, with three more touchdown passes against the Boilermakers, Lock is now in sole possession of sixth in SEC history with 82.
- And here’s a new development for Lock: He entered the top-10 for career passing yards in SEC history Saturday, and he’s currently just 1,771 yards behind David Greene (Georgia, 11,528) in second place. Does he have a shot at first? Well, Lock needs to average 379 yards a game to overtake Aaron Murray (Georgia, 13,166), so he’ll have to put together a number of great performances the rest of the year to do so.