Drew Lock was a senior in high school when he first met J’Mon Moore. Lock was attending a Missouri practice and Moore was coming off of his redshirt freshman season. Moore approached Lock on the sideline and tossed the future Missouri quarterback a football.
“Hey, let me see what you got,” Moore told Lock.
Lock, admittedly nervous in the moment, threw some passes to his soon-to-be receiver on the spot. The two haven’t looked back since.
The combination figures to be one of the best quarterback-receiver combos in the SEC this season. Lock is coming off of a season that saw him throw for 3,399 yards and 27 touchdowns. Moore hauled in 62 passes for 1,012 and eight touchdowns, which included stellar outings in his final three games.
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The relationship between the two will be key if Missouri is to improve upon its 4-8 record in 2016.
“Having a good relationship with your quarterback is so important. If you don’t have a good relationship with your quarterback, and you play receiver, then something ain’t right,” Moore said. “Just being able to have a quarterback I can connect with and build a true relationship with is a blessing. We’re still building that relationship well. It’s at a good point. We trust each other with our tendencies. We’re thankful to have him.”
One area both players have worked to improve is being more vocal with their teammates.
Moore said Lock can be shy. Lock said Moore has worked hard on speaking up in a leadership role.
“He didn’t take the leadership role early on. He definitely came in first in sprints, did all the physical stuff. But he was never really a vocal leader,” Lock said. “Now he’s become more vocal. He talks to me differently. He can describe things to me better. He has a better vision for everything out there than I do. He can really relay things to me. I think that helps us out a lot.”
One of the best performances both players had came early in a game against Georgia. Lock was on fire to start, accounting for 322 of his 376 passing yards in the first half. Moore was the primary beneficiary with 196 of those yards and two touchdowns.
But Moore fumbled late after Georgia went ahead 28-27 in the final minutes of the game. It’s a moment that has haunted the star receiver since.
“The Georgia loss will probably stay with me for the rest of my life,” Moore said. “Not only because I tried to leave it all on the field, but because I felt like, in the moment, competitive players won. I felt like I lost it – I fumbled it, and I felt like it was against my culture. That will stick with me. But I will leave it in the past. I won’t allow it to bring me down. I will build on it.”
Missouri will need this combo, as well as the rest of the offense, to step up in a major way if it will field a better team. The Tigers are returning 10 offensive starters but only five on defense.
That means Missouri could be in a position where it will need its offense to score plenty of points to keep pace.
And in a pass-happy offense, a lot of that comes down to chemistry between the quarterback and his receivers. Since the day they met, Lock and Moore have worked to build their rapport with one another.
“You gotta spend time with your quarterback,” Moore said. “You have to know what type of person your quarterback is to have any kind of relationship with him. We’ve just been spending time after practice. Times when we don’t have to be together, when we’re supposed to have time to ourselves, we’re spending that time together.”