“I still had Twitter at that time and I was getting tagged in all of these tweets from Tennessee people, (saying), ‘Aww, Drew Lock’s got Derek Dooley now. Here he goes down the drain, blah, blah, blah,’ ” Lock said.
Lock issued one heck of a response Saturday. Missouri trounced the Vols 50-17 in Dooley’s return to Tennessee, which fired him as head coach six years ago.
With Lock throwing two touchdown passes and Larry Rountree rushing for 135 yards, Missouri (7-4, 3-4 Southeastern Conference) breezed to its third straight victory. This win had to be particularly sweet for Dooley, who went 15-21 as Tennessee’s coach from 2010-12.
Rather than going down the drain under Dooley, Lock is moving up the SEC rankings for career passing yardage. Lock hit 21 of 30 passes for 257 yards Saturday, giving him 11,599 passing yards in his career to reach second place on the SEC’s all-time list. Lock overtook David Greene, who threw for 11,528 yards at Georgia from 2001-04.
“That feels really good,” Lock said. “That is definitely really cool, especially to be able to do it here with Coach Dooley.”
The SEC record holder is Aaron Murray, who amassed 13,166 passing yards for Georgia from 2010-13.
Ty Chandler had two touchdown runs for Tennessee (5-6, 2-5), which lost starting quarterback Jarrett Guarantano to an injury after he was sacked twice in the first quarter. Keller Chryst replaced Guarantano early in the second period and was 7-of-19 passing for 173 yards with two interceptions.
“Missouri outcoached us, outplayed us today,” said Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt, who had no postgame update on the status of Guarantano or wide receiver Marquez Callaway, who also was knocked out of the game after catching two passes for 98 yards.
Missouri had 117 yards to UT’s minus-17 in the first quarter but led only 6-0 for it after two drives stalled in the red zone, forcing the Tigers to settle for field goals.
The momentum briefly changed after Chryst entered the game. His 41-yard completion to Jauan Jennings on third-and-6 set up a 5- yard touchdown run by Ty Chandler that put the Vols ahead 7-6.
Missouri went back ahead for good with a touchdown on its next drive, beginning a stretch of four straight possessions in which it reached the end zone.
With Tennessee trailing 19-10, the Vols reached Missouri’s 28 in the final minute of the half before DeMarkus Acy picked off a Chryst pass and delivered a 76-yard interception return. That turnover put Missouri at Tennessee’s 11 to set up Lock’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Johnathon Johnson, which gave the Tigers a 26-10 advantage.
“We had a chance to put some points on the board and we make a bad throw and they run it (most) of the way back, at least a 10-point swing there,” Pruitt said.
After both teams reached the end zone on their opening possessions of the second half, another Tennessee turnover put the game out of reach.
Tennessee’s Carlin Fils-aime fumbled on his only carry of the night, and Joshuah Bledsoe picked it up and ran 39 yards for a Missouri touchdown that made it 40-17.
“I didn’t think we’d be in position in the third quarter to milk the clock,” Missouri coach Barry Odom said, “but that is the way the game unfolded.”
NOT OUT OF IT YET
The Vols still can become bowl eligible by winning at Vanderbilt, which would represent a giant step forward for a program that finished 4-8 and went winless in SEC competition last year.
“We want to go to a bowl game, we’ve got to go get it,” Chandler said. “It’s not going to be handed to us.”
Missouri beat Tennessee by the same score last year. UT fired Butch Jones as coach the day after last season’s meeting, which featured Missouri scoring 33 unanswered points to break a 17-all tie.
Missouri linebacker Tavon Ross got a targeting penalty in the first half. Tennessee linebacker Shanon Reid and Missouri defensive end Nate Anderson drew targeting penalties in the second half, which means the two of them won’t be able to play in the first half of their regular-season finales.