Maty Mauk will not run out with the first-team offense on Aug. 31 against Murray State, but the redshirt freshman isn’t about to start sulking about Missouri coach Gary Pinkel’s recent decision to name senior James Franklin the starting quarterback.
“Everyday, I’m going to keep pushing James and he’s going to keep pushing me,” Mauk said. “The competition is still there, it’s just James is starting. I mean, I’m going to be his backup and whenever something happens, I’m going to be ready to go and make an impact.”
Pinkel, however, continues to hold a carrot in front of Mauk, repeatedly saying the the 6-foot, 200-pounder from Kenton, Ohio, has a chance to play a few planned series per game, provided he simply continues to improve.
“They haven’t said much, they just said there would be a series here and there,” Mauk said.
Pinkel and quarterbacks coach Andy Hill have repeatedly praised Mauk’s ability to make plays on the run the and escape trouble, but Pinkel said he would like to see him cut down on his turnovers and work on his decision making.
In Missouri’s two scrimmages this preseason, Mauk has completed only 23 of 44 passes (52.3 percent) for 371 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions, all the while taking some sacks and fumbling on a few occasions, too.
Mauk, however, insists he’s improved in these aspects, and says he will continue to do so.
“That’s my main thing,” Mauk said. “I’m going to keep being consistent. I’m going to get the ball out quick and keep doing the things I’ve been doing.”
Mauk said he won’t let the emphasis on taking care of the football affect his creativity, however. He used his legs often in high school, when he became the two-time Ohio Gatorade Player of the Year and broke national records for passing yards (18,932), touchdown passes (219), completions (1,353) and total offense (22,681). Making plays with his feet is simply a part of his DNA as a quarterback, and in that respect, Missouri knew what it was getting when it recruited him.
“I know when things are going to happen on the field,” Mauk said. “Naturally, I have that instinct that if I feel pressure, I’m going to get out and run. My first goal is to look downfield and make the play, and if it’s not there, I’m going to use my legs to get as much as I can.”
Mauk said he sees this season as a building year, and he has every intention of taking advantage of it — starter or not.
“Each week, I’m going to prepare myself like I am the starter,” Mauk said. “I’m going to know everything that defense is doing. I’ll put in that time, balance out the schoolwork and I’m gonna know how we want to run things and what they’re doing. So it’s going to be excited and I’m ready to take that challenge.”