Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel had his plan going accordingly at quarterback halfway through the season, and as is often the case when one make plans, something horrible happened and his plans went by the wayside.
James Franklin was among the top quarterbacks in the country this season, helping lead the Tigers to a 5-0 start. But then he got hurt in the win at Georgia, putting a damper on the school’s signature win. If the Tigers are to remain in the penthouse in the SEC east, all the pressure falls on the untested right shoulder of redshirt freshman Maty Mauk.
If you were watching the Tigers upset the Bulldogs on Saturday when Mauk came in you heard about his prolific prep career in which he had 46 passing touchdowns and 11 more on the ground his senior season. Allen Trieu’s scouting report on Mauk via Scout.com should alleviate some concerns on whether Mauk can fill the big shoes of Franklin:
“He has a lot of polish, sees the field well and makes good decisions. He has solid zip on his short to intermediate passes and can throw on the move. He has a great sixth sense for feeling the rush and getting away from defenders and making plays when his first read breaks down.”
He was a former three-star recruit who had offers from the likes of Notre Dame and Michigan, but was largely overlooked because of his lack of ideal measurements. He stands 6-feet and weights 200-pounds, and has thrived on proving his doubters wrong — which he has another opportunity to do as some are predicting doom and gloom for this team.
What should be the most comforting news about Mauk is the fact Pinkel waited til the last minute to name Franklin the starter in the preseason. Mauk’s athleticism and accuracy made it a legitimate battle with the proven veteran. He ultimately lost out to Franklin, but he did get the distinction as the most improved quarterback in spring practice. Think of a more athletic Chase Daniel, and that’s what you have in Mauk.
He faces a daunting first two games as a starter as Mizzou hosts Florida and South Carolina with a one-game lead in the east, but he has a strong team to support him and it won’t rest solely on him. The Tigers have a veteran offensive line, three capable running backs and three emerging receivers who are at least 6-foot-4.
Quarterback is the most important position on the field, but anyone who watched Missouri beat Georgia knows this is far from a one-man team. Mauk doesn’t need to be Franklin for Missouri to keep winning; all he has to do is what he did all spring and fall and he’ll continue to surprise those who have counted him out.