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Missouri Football Spring Preview: Drew Lock will have to earn the starting QB job

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Mizzou’s annual Black and Gold Spring game is on April 16th at 5 pm on the SEC Network.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterbacks

Seniors Juniors Sophomores Freshmen Class of 2016
Marvin Zanders (R) 6'1 185 Micah Wilson 6'3 205
Drew Lock 6'3 205
Jack Lowary 6'4 235
Gone:

Maty Mauk, Corbin Berkstresser, Eddie Printz

Returning Starters:

Drew Lock (129/263 - 1332, 4 TD, 8 INT)

Others Returning:

Marvin Zanders

Newcomers:

Micah Wilson, Early Enrollees: Jack Lowary

Recap: Maty Mauk is gone after a pair of suspensions kept him out for most of the season. That is probably for the best. Drew Lock struggled as a true freshman but still has all the promising attributes you want from a starting quarterback. The first true freshman QB to start for Mizzou since Corby Jones, Lock had a solid outing against South Carolina, then fell back to earth. His only good game after that came against BYU, a non-conference game in Kansas City.

Lock is the heir apparent, and that was likely the reason Eddie Printz decided to transfer to Texas State. Marvin Zanders was asked earlier this week if he ever gave thought to transferring, and he admitted he had given it some thought but followed it up by saying, "I'm from Florida so I like to compete."

What to Watch: What kind of improvement can we expect from Drew Lock after a disastrous freshman campaign? Lock is still the de facto starter while he’s on campus, and he still has NFL potential. His arm allowed him to make some daring throws, particularly out-routes and passes into tight windows, something he flashed during fall camp. But too often, his reads were slow and predictable -- whether that’s on last year's scheme or the player will be determined this year. We've already heard he's put on good weight and is up to 220 pounds, and his frame looks like he can handle it without losing mobility.

We've heard that the QB competition is wide open and that the best player will get the opportunity. I believe it right now. Josh Heupel has already critiqued Lock for lack of preparation last year. Neither Barry Odom nor Heupel is beholden to Drew Lock or Marvin Zanders. In fact, they brought in a couple of Heupel-recruited QBs in Jack Lowary and Micah Wilson in February's signing class.

What kind of future does Marvin Zanders have in Heupel’s system? He is a phenomenal athlete, and we've glimpsed his potential running the ball, but from what I've been able to see his passes can still be high and flutter. Because of that it'd be easy to project him as a run-first quarerback, which could allow Heupel to run an offense very similar to Utah State's with Chuckie Keeton. But we just haven't seen enough to know that for sure. Zanders and Lock are in the same class, so if Zanders loses the QB competition this year he'll likely remain a backup, barring injury, for the foreseeable future.

What about Jack Lowary? Since we know very little about Lowary, I'll just copy/paste what Bill said about him earlier:

Lowary attended Santa Ana's Mater Dei high school and was originally classified as a 2015 recruit. Rivals listed him as a three-star prospect. We're still putting information together, but it appears he went to LBCC to perhaps raise his recruiting profile a bit.

He had an up-and-down freshman season at LBCC. Throwing 40 times per game, he finished with 3,306 yards, 28 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and a 53 percent completion rate. He found a nice rhythm in the middle of the year -- in Games 3-10, he averaged 289 passing yards (with a 57% completion rate) with 22 scores and just seven picks.

What I'd like to see is Zanders incorporated into the offense with Lock, lining up in the backfield as a threat to run or throw the ball whenever he's on the field. He doesn't have to convert to wide receiver, but he can become a throwback quarterback1 who comes in situationally to add another dimension to Mizzou's offense. I don't want to reduce him to a gimmick or trick-play specialist either. My solution would allow him the opportunity to develop further as a quarterback while also keeping the run option and not exposing Lock to unnecessary hits.

Hey, this is my article, I can dream okay?

Predictions: Drew Lock is the starter with Marvin Zanders getting situational play. Jack Lowary is for depth. Micah Wilson redshirts.

1. [A "throw-back, if you will.]