University of Missouri

Mizzou Mailbag: More Maty Mauk, Tyronn Lue query and the Fall Classic

Missouri Tigers quarterback Maty Mauk
Missouri Tigers quarterback Maty Mauk The Associated Press

Quarterback Maty Mauk continue to dominate reader questions for the weekly Mizzou Mailbag.

It’s no shock really, considering that Mauk hasn’t posted a quarterback efficiency rating better than 67.91 since a 31-27 loss against Indiana.

Mauk went 12 for 34 for 132 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions at South Carolina, a 67.91 rating.

He was nine of 21 for 97 with no touchdowns and four interceptions (plus a lost fumble) in a shutout loss to Georgia, a 43.56 rating.

Last week, Mauk was six of 18 for 20 yards with no touchdowns and an interception at Florida, a 31.56 rating. His longest completion was 8 yards.

During the last three weeks, Mauk is 27 of 73 for 249 yards without a single touchdown and five interceptions, a rather dismal 51.94 rating.

Using the NFL formula for quarterback rating, Mauk’s would be 18.6, though (rather remarkably) the Tigers were victorious against the Gamecocks and Gators.

Missouri’s net passing yards during that stretch is 191 yards, a modest 63.7 yards per game.

That needs to improve, and dramatically, which explains all the angst — including a few social-media inspired questions unsuitable for a family paper.

On to your questions:

There must be a better QB on the bench. What’s with M.M.?

— via email from Dick Unruh

Dick, Mauk hasn’t played his best football, but the coaches — and they’d know better than me — still believe he’s the best option.

Redshirt Eddie Printz is the backup and he’s untested in a game. Lee’s Summit graduate Corbin Berkstresser is third string on the depth chart, and he has some starting experience from 2012.

Still, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel and his staff are adamant, almost defiant, in their complete faith in Mauk. He’s played better in his first eight career starts than these last three games and, quite frankly, isn’t getting a lot of help around him.

The Tigers have been dogged by protection issues, the lack of a running game and drops, including a few bobbles that led to interceptions. Mauk needs to worry less about the rush and more about making reads. He also needs the offensive line and his receivers to do a better job around him. Maybe Vanderbilt will provide a confidence-building moment for Missouri and Mauk.

Mark, three of Missouri’s five remaining opponents — Vanderbilt, Texas A&M and Arkansas — check in as the bottom three teams in the SEC in pass defense efficiency. Of course, the teams just ahead of them in those rankings, from ninth to 11th, respectively, are Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.

My first thought is: He can’t continue playing this bad, can he? If Mauk struggles against Vanderbilt, I’m not sure how long the coaching staff can maintain its faith. It was telling that he didn’t attend Monday’s media day. MU officials said he had a workout that’s usually in the morning moved to the afternoon, and maybe that’s true. But it also felt very much like a mental break for Mauk, a chance to avoid reliving the worst three-game stretch of his career at any level through a barrage of questions about it.

Derek, Missouri running back Morgan Steward is not eligible for a medical redshirt, because he already took a redshirt season in 2012. To qualify for a medical redshirt, which is really a sixth season of eligibility, a player must have lost two seasons to circumstances beyond his control.

Basically, Steward would need to miss another entire season to gain an extra year of playing time. The Tigers still hope he can come back and contribute in November.

Joshua, what a truly excellent question. Not sure if you’re aware that I went to high school with Tyronn Lue or not, but I’ll always have a soft spot for Raytown’s No. 10. Sometime, you’ll have to ask me about his antics on the Blue Jays’ return trip from Warrensburg one cold December 1994 night or our Spanish class. On second thought, nope these lips are sealed.

As far as Missouri’s coaching search, I never heard Lue’s name come up and have no reason to suspect it did. He probably wasn’t a guy on the radar, especially with no college coaching experience at any level and no ties to the Tigers.

Now, my man Kim Anderson has all that — and I think he’s going to do a fine job at Missouri — while Lue landed in Cleveland as the Cavaliers’ associate head coach. Not sure he’d trade coaching King James, K-Love and Kyrie for Anderson’s job.

If he wants to be, Lue will be an NBA head coach one day, so I’m not even sure Missouri had a chance at landing him in the first place.

Still, thanks for letting me talk about Tyronn.

Finally, just because World Series and all …

Jake, in the bitingly sarcastic, sterile world of the press box, I’m not often fully plugged into the in-stadium shenanigans. We don’t get the PA pumped in there (unless you’re banished to the auxiliary press box in the .390 Club for things like the World Series).

As such, I can’t offer a critical review of Royal Thunder, but I can’t say that, as a self-respecting Raytown graduate, drum lines are great. The dude who plays the 5-gallon buckets at halftime of basketball is terrific, too. And, if Royal Thunder’s in a contest with “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy,” there is only one correct answer.

So, put me down as a Royal Thunder fan, but I’m also not a hater by nature. Saying Chiefs at the end of the anthem isn’t my thing, but I don’t judge others for it and can’t anger about disrespect either — land of the free and all that.

Same with The Wave. Unless I’m at the game and my 6-year-old is imploring me to participate, I let it go by without raising my arms. Those who stand and raise their arms and yell “woo” and giggle — nothing but love for you. (Just don’t be drunk 47-year-old with a mullet who tries to incite The Wave unsuccessfully every half-inning when I’m trying to watch a game.) Otherwise, do your own thing, unless that thing involves subjecting me to a garbage Kenny Chesney song from the college days.

Mike, many smart, studious baseball people consider James Shields’ change-up among the best in the game right now. It’s his signature pitch. The problem Tuesday wasn’t his change-up, but rather that he wasn’t spotting his fastball well enough. He threw several just off the plate, but that night’s home-plate umpire, Jerry Meals, wasn’t giving the corner (much less an inch or two off it).

When Shields can’t get ahead in the count with his fastball, his change-up becomes less effective as hitters lay off that pitch. Forced to come over the plate more with his heater, the chances of a mistake increase — like the fastball he threw to Hunter Pence that tailed toward the heart of the plate and was blasted over the left-center wall.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @todpalmer.

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