Welcome to another Ask Tod, where fans are invited to ask questions that Missouri beat writer Tod Palmer answers in The Star’s weekly mailbag blog feature.
Not surprisingly, most of this week’s questions involved Maty Mauk’s suspension and Drew Lock’s first career start.
But a lot of those questions starting putting the cart a bit too far ahead of the horse. For instance:
The post-Drew Lock era? The Drew Lock era literally hasn’t even started yet and it has at least two years remaining unless he gives up football to become a missionary. It might be too early to pronounce the Missouri program dead in 2018.
Stephen, the first thing Lock needs to do is help Missouri win a football game. That’s the most important objective and, if he does that, he’ll have a chance to hang on to the starting job. Besides, Mauk’s suspension might linger past this week, so it could be a moot point.
If Lock leads the Tigers to a win in a game where the offense establishes a rhythm and puts some points on the board, it clearly becomes his job after the struggles shown the first four weeks under Mauk’s guidance.
That’s not to say the offensive woes were all Mauk’s fault or even mostly Mauk’s fault. But coach Gary Pinkel consistently has said that the best player will play and the player who gives Missouri the best chance to win will play. If Lock makes the offense hum and they win, it’s hard to argue he isn’t both of those things.
Paul, pump the brakes. Even if Mauk doesn’t return as the starter, he’s still a valuable option as a savvy, experienced backup.
But if it’s just a thought exercise, I’d say slot receiver. He’s fast, knows the route tree and presumably how to get open. I don’t know how good his hands are, but I could see Mauk being a T.J. Moe type with enough reps.
Of course, he’s already been the team’s best running back this season, so that would be an option, too. It’s just one I don’t think ever goes past the “interesting thought” phase right now.
TJ, I can’t speak to what Lock ponders, but I think Missouri be thrilled if he had the same success that Andrew Luck did at Stanford. Personally, I am not convinced Lock can grow a beard of Luck’s caliber, but also hope he takes better care of the football.
Rusty, when was Connor Shaw a change-of-pace backup? He was hurt and came off the bench against Missouri two years ago, but when he was healthy he was South Carolina’s starter.
Mauk’s days as a starter might not be over, though they certainly appear numbered, at the very least. Everything hinges on how Saturday’s game goes and how long Mauk is suspended. But yes, a veteran quarterback with his athletic ability and experience certainly has value moving forward no matter what the role.
Brock, Pinkel hasn’t ruled out moving senior left tackle Connor McGovern, who started primarily at right guard the last seasons, back inside, but Mitch Hall hasn’t been the problem with Missouri’s offense. Besides, who are you going to put out at left tackle if you move McGovern?
If the Tigers had some incredible offensive lineman who could dominate at left tackle, he’d already be playing. Perhaps there will be a shakeup if things don’t get better, because the coaches are trying to send a message. But Missouri won’t start moving guys around just for the sake of moving guys around.
Carrington, that’s such a tough question to answer, because it’s different sports and we don’t know how Missouri’s freshman basketball class will play nor how Drew Lock responds to a starting role.
Let’s start with the premise that both offenses stink. The Tigers’ basketball offense was last in the SEC last season and the football team’s is last this season.
If Lock comes in and his accuracy makes Missouri roll on the gridiron, I think it’s a middle-of-the-pack SEC offense. A healthy Russell Hansbrough only makes that more true and easier to attain.
On the hardwood, the lack of size and a scoring presence on the interior, remains an issue for the Missouri basketball team. I think they’ll be better, but probably still in the lower half of the SEC offensively. So, the football team? Maybe that’s my answer.
Mark, probably, but our definition of “reliable source” might differ.