Story by Ryan Shiner
Photos by Karen Mitchell
Maty Mauk eyes two defensive players as he moves out of the pocket Saturday against Florida. Mauk was never sacked in the game.
Prior to the 11:21 start on Saturday, there were many questions about Missouri’s new starting quarterback, Maty Mauk, whose first college start was coming against one of the best defenses in the country.
Mauk answered a lot of those questions on the first play from scrimmage, much to the enjoyment of the sold-out crowd at Memorial Stadium, which erupted in sustained cheers.
“He looked like a seasoned veteran out there,” coach Gary Pinkel said of the redshirt freshmen.
Mauk kept up the offensive tempo established by James Franklin and company this year. Mauk’s first pass—completed to L’Damian Washington for 41-yards—was followed immediately by a 34-yard pass to Bud Sasser in
Mauk was calm and poised in his first collegiate start.
the left corner of the end zone. The rookie QB looked calm, and went through his motions like it was routine.
“I was going left but the safety kind of scooted over so, I knew L’Damian was going to beat him,” Mauk said about his first play from scrimmage. “I threw it to him, he caught it, and I got all that stress off my back, and then to come right back to Bud, that got me calm for the rest of the game.”
Another moment of maturity the freshmen showed was during the first drive of the second half. Florida’s Solomon Patton had just returned the kick-off for a touchdown, cutting Missouri’s lead to just three points.
On the second play of Missouri’s first drive, a first-and-10 on the Missouri 37 yard line, Mauk dropped back into the pocket and completed a 52-yard bomb to Jimmy Hunt, setting up a 6-yard touchdown run by Henry Josey.
Mauk answered questions about his running ability late in the fourth quarter when he sprinted up field for a 17-yard touchdown to seal the victory for Missouri.
“I was getting ready to throw it to Dorial (Green-Beckham) in man (coverage), but I felt a little pressure and went left,” Mauk said about his scramble.
But the game wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for the young quarterback’s first start. He did make mistakes.
Maty Mauk (7) talks with quarterbacks coach Andy Hill on the sidelines.
Pinkel and quarterbacks coach Andy Hill both talked about how Mauk would sometimes throw passes downfield in practice when he shouldn’t have. A player’s performance in practice is often a good indicator of how they will perform in a game; but forcing the ball deep wasn’t a problem on Saturday — he was forcing the shorter throws.
In the second quarter, Mauk threw a 13-yard pass to Hunt in quadruple coverage. Later in the drive, he threw his first pick when Brian Poole jumped the route.
Most teams don’t have the quarterback coach on the sideline and Hill’s presence there probably contributed to Mauk’s improved play in the second half.
“You can talk face to face and see his emotion,” Hill said. “I think rather than being on the phones, it makes a difference.”
A good amount of Missouri’s plays rely on the quarterback reading the defense on one side of the field. James Franklin, Missouri’s injured starter, told Mauk to take three seconds to assess the field. If the receiver isn’t available, look for the next option.
Franklin continued to give advice during the game.
Florida’s Dante Fowler Jr. forces Mauk to fumble in the first quarter. Missouri recovered the ball.
“After every series, I came off there, he was making sure I saw everything, he was making sure I was doing everything we expected,” Mauk said. “He also told me what he expected to help me to go out there and be successful.”
Mauk made several other shaky plays in the first half, including a fumble on a pitch to Russell Hansbrough after a Florida defender tipped it. More importantly was the inability to make touchdowns—five of Missouri’s eight scoring drives ended with an Andrew Baggett field goal.
“Every young guy at any position is going to make mistakes that he’ll say he wish he hadn’t done,” Hill said. “So he made a few, but we had 80 plays out there, and there were a lot of positives out there.”
Mauk’s final stats of the game:
• 18 of 36 in passing, 295 total yards
• 1 touchdown pass, 1 interception
• Longest pass: 52 yards
• 6 rushing attempts, 28 yards
• 1 rush for 13-yard loss, 15 yards net total
Mauk is scheduled to start Missouri’s next game, at home against South Carolina on Saturday, Oct. 26, 6 p.m. start.