By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky might have questions at quarterback, but Missouri does not.
Senior quarterback Drew Lock has 87 career touchdown passes — fifth best all-time in the SEC — and has thrown for 10,674 yards. Only nine SEC quarterbacks have ever thrown for 10,000 yards in career and the last to do it was Georgia’s Andy Murray in 2013. Lock also became just the 112th quarterback in college football history to reach 10,000 yards.
“Experience, talent. He sees the field, gets rid of the ball so quick, has such a strong arm. He’s a very good football player,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said.
Stoops said UK still has to be “conscious” of Missouri’s running game and warns that Missouri is a more physical team than many realize.
“They’re really talented and run the ball and it puts a lot of pressure on your secondary. And once again you’ve heard me talk about that many times when you’re defending somebody if they have balance it puts a lot of stress on you because you have to play with numbers in the running game, which gives them opportunity for big plays in the pass game and they have the ability with the quarterback and the talent that he has, and the speed that they have, to put a lot of pressure on you,” Stoops said.
Lock turned in the sixth-best single-game QB rating in school history (226.2) as he threw for 350 yards on 23-of-29 passing with four TDs, his 11th career game with four scores, in a win over Memphis last week when Missouri scored 65 points. Tight end Albert Okwuegbunam had a career-high 159 yards and three touchdowns on just six catches.
Stoops said having his players focused for Saturday’s game should be no problem.
“It’s really not hard for me, and should not be hard for our team, to have unbelievable focus today to get a lot of things fixed from this past Saturday and to get 100 percent attention on Missouri. I think you’d have to be a moron to not realize the threat you’re going to go up against with Missouri,” Stoops said. “They’re a very good football team, who I have a lot of respect for.
“One thing I really notice and admire about his football team is that they play hard, they play tough, they’re motivated and they’re hungry. That’s a very good football team and so it should not be hard to have all our attention with everybody within our building.”
Stoops said he was not being “condescending” with that comment.
“Outside of our building I don’t really care what anybody thinks and I say that in a good way, not like in a negative way. It doesn’t matter and doesn’t affect us and I’m glad people are excited, I mean it more than way, but that doesn’t affect us or our team,” Stoops said. “We have a lot to do and we have a mature football team, so they should be 100 percent locked in on Missouri.”
Consider this: Missouri has scored at least 29 points in all four home games this year and is averaging 46.3 points per home game. The Tigers have scored at least 29 points in the last seven homes games and averaged 49.7 points per game in that span.
Kentucky’s defense has not allowed anyone to score more than 20 points this season and that came in an overtime loss at Texas A&M.