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Placing Drew Lock in Mizzou QB history

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How does Lock rank when compared to a Daniel, Smith, Gabbert or Franklin? What can he do to improve his standing?

NCAA Football: Missouri at Arkansas
Drew Lock is chasing the (metaphorical) ghost of Chase Daniel, and perhaps Brad Smith, during his senior season.
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The Drew Lock Heisman campaign is officially underway.

And it makes sense, seeing as how he set the SEC record for touchdown passes in a season as a junior last year and led the FBS.

Now that Lock is entering his final season at Missouri, it’s time to get a little reflective about his time with the Tigers. Which brings us to a question that I’ve gotten before — and I’m sure many Missouri fans have wondered?

Where does Lock rank when it comes to all the quarterbacks in Missouri football history? And, by “history,” I of course mean Brad Smith and onwards (and let’s thrown Corby Jones in there for fun as well).

Since 2002, Missouri has had six starting quarterbacks that have been QB1 for at least a full season: Smith (2002-05), Chase Daniel (2006-08), Blaine Gabbert (2009-10), James Franklin (2011-13), Maty Mauk (2013-15) and Lock (2015-18). Plus Jones (1995-98).

How do we quantify where Lock stacks up with the rest of these guys? Let’s do it by placing him into context of passing stats, total offense, proportion of the team’s yards and points they accounted for during their starts and the team’s record when they were starting quarterbacks.

(And I’d like to take a moment here to give a huge shoutout to Tom Orf for providing me with the game-by-game total offense logs for Jones’ starts in 1995-96, when he didn’t start every game. Because it’s easy to figure out what percent of the offense Jones accounted for in 1997-98, when he started all the games. Just divide his total offense by the team’s. Not so easy when you have to pick out the individual starts in 1995-96, which is where Tom was crucial. So thanks!)

All in all, I’ve got 20 categories to rank these seven guys by. In 10, Lock ranks third or better among the seven quarterbacks. In 10, he ranks fourth or worse.

Let’s see where his legacy is the strongest, where it is the weakest, and what he can do as a senior to make it even stronger.

Lock Strong Points

% of MU’s Scoring

  • Lock – 46.3
  • Mauk – 44.2
  • Smith – 43.3
  • Daniel – 42.5
  • Avg. – 41.6
  • Franklin – 39.5
  • Gabbert – 37.6
  • Jones – 37.2

Missouri has averaged 28.6 points per game in Lock’s starts and, with his 73 total touchdowns, he has accounted for 13.3 points per game. As a junior last year, he accounted for 55.4 percent of the team’s scoring. So I really don’t see this strength weakening in 2018.

Yards per Pass

  • Daniel – 7.89
  • Lock – 7.76
  • Franklin – 7.43
  • Gabbert – 7.37
  • Jones – 7.21
  • Avg. – 7.17
  • Mauk – 6.60
  • Smith – 5.93

The big plays (and, really, they have to be big plays that account for this because he isn’t as accurate as his Missouri compatriots...as we’ll see later). Say he averages 33 attempts a game this year (as he has in his previous 33 starts) in a 13-game season. That’s 430 attempts, which would necessitate about an 8.21 yards-per-attempt clip as a senior to catch up with Daniel. Considering he put up 9.46 last year...definitely doable.

Pass TDs per Game

  • Daniel – 2.44
  • Lock – 2.12
  • Mauk – 1.86
  • Franklin – 1.61
  • Avg. – 1.60
  • Gabbert – 1.54
  • Smith – 1.17
  • Jones – 0.67

TD:INT Rate

  • Daniel – 2.56
  • Lock – 2.33
  • Gabbert – 2.22
  • Mauk – 2.16
  • Avg. – 2.12
  • Franklin – 2.08
  • Smith – 1.70
  • Jones – 1.44

Securing that bag. Lock’s 2.12 is pretty entrenched in second. It would take about 18 passing touchdowns this year to fall back to Mauk. Or 2.4 times fewer than the 44 he put up last year. On the flip side, it would take 47 to reach Daniel. Not entirely out of the question...

Even though Lock is pretty proficient with the interceptions, historically speaking, his sheer touchdown volume actually places him pretty highly in TD:INT ratio. It would take about a 2.00 this year to fall back to Gabbert and about a 3.50 to reach Daniel. Lock was 3.38 last year. Again, not really out of the realm.

Lock Weak Points

FBS Win %

  • Mauk – 75.0
  • Daniel – 71.1
  • Gabbert – 66.7
  • Franklin – 60.7
  • Avg. – 57.5
  • Jones – 52.6
  • Smith – 51.1
  • Lock – 35.5

Power-5 Win %

  • Mauk – 68.8
  • Daniel – 66.7
  • Gabbert – 63.2
  • Franklin – 54.2
  • Avg. – 52.4
  • Jones – 50.0
  • Smith – 44.4
  • Lock – 29.6

.500+ Win %

  • Mauk – 75.0
  • Gabbert – 58.8
  • Daniel – 56.5
  • Franklin – 52.4
  • Avg. – 43.6
  • Smith – 37.0
  • Jones – 26.3
  • Lock – 14.3

Last, last, last. By a lot, lot, lot. Lock has presided over, by far, the least successful stretch of Missouri football of the other six in this study. And yes, that’s not really fair to him because this is the stat he has the least control over.

But yes, that 3-18 mark — 3-18! — against teams that ended up with a .500 record or better is very weak. Want to guess what those three wins are? 2016 Eastern Michigan, 2016 Arkansas and 2015 BYU.

Even if every single team Missouri plays has a winning record this year and the Tigers beat all of them (not counting FCS...because I didn’t), he’d still only end up at 48.6 vs. winning teams. Or behind Mauk, Gabbert, Daniel and Franklin. If he went 14-0 (non-FCS) overall, he’d get up to 57.4. Slightly below average. If he went 12-0 vs. Power-5 teams, he’d get up to 53.5, also fifth on the list. Definitely not the be-all, end-all, but something to consider when we’re talking legacy.

Still, I think if he wins the Heisman and leads Missouri to a 15-0 national championship, he’d have a pretty good claim at best Tigers quarterback ever. Don’t you think?

Comp. %

  • Daniel – 68.4
  • Franklin – 61.9
  • Gabbert – 61.2
  • Avg. – 59.2
  • Smith – 56.3
  • Lock – 54.4
  • Mauk – 52.5
  • Jones – 50.4

Not the most accurate, though the step up to 57.8 percent last year was nice. Still not up to the average. He’d have to complete north of 70 percent this year to get up to that 59.2 average. That’d be something to see. To hit Daniel’s 68.4-percent mark, he’d have to complete about 104 percent of his passes.

Now that would really be something to see!

INT%

  • Gabbert – 1.96
  • Smith – 2.22
  • Daniel – 2.53
  • Avg. – 2.54
  • Franklin – 2.61
  • Lock – 2.75
  • Mauk – 2.98
  • Jones – 3.33

Not the most careful with the ball. And this is the one category in which Lock hasn’t gotten better as the years have gone: from 2.94 in 2015 to 2.30 in 2016 to 3.10 in 2017. He’d be looking at about a 2.09 interception percentage this year to get up the average, or about nine over 430 attempts. To get up to Gabbert, we’re talking zero interceptions.

If Drew Lock puts together a season in which he completes 104 percent of his passes and throws no interceptions, I will unequivocally say he’s the best quarterback in Missouri history.

I think most Tigers fans would probably put Daniel above all else on this list, for his mixture of huge numbers and on-field success. I think Lock and Smith would probably be grappling for second, with a nod here or there to Gabbert (if only he had stayed longer) or Jones (for what he did to resurrect the program in the mid-90s.

This year, really then, is about what Lock can do to lock down that spot below Daniel. Right now, Smith had similar production overall (worse passing, much better rushing) on teams that were more successful than Lock’s, with the added bonus of Smith launching this new renaissance in Missouri football with his transformative career.

Which is to say that right now, I feel like Smith gets a minor edge for second. With a fantastic senior year, though — perhaps a Heisman-worthy one? — Lock can definitely be upwardly mobile.

But in a wider sense, who cares? It’s your last year on campus, Drew. Have fun, put up some numbers and go to the NFL!

Here’s the work, if you want to read it: