Don’t try to manufacture a quarterback controversy from Missouri’s decision to elevate true freshman Drew Lock to second string on the depth chart.
Tigers coach Gary Pinkel made it clear Monday during his weekly briefing that Lock’s ascendance isn’t designed to spur Mauk to greater heights nor does it shorten Mauk’s leash as the starter.
“This has nothing to do with Maty …” Pinkel said. “Ultimately, what we ask ourselves is who is the right person to put in there if something happens to Maty to give us the best chance to win? That’s kind of where we’re at.”
Pinkel repeated some variation of the “nothing to do with Maty” theme each time he was asked about the significance of Lock being installed as Mauk’s backup.
He even bristled when asked about if Lock’s arrival meant MU’s staff would be more likely to yank Mauk if he struggled.
“Don’t confuse it,” Pinkel said.
Not having played a game for the Tigers, Lock isn’t available to speak to the media, but Mauk doesn’t seem rattled a bit by his new backup.
“He’s a very great quarterback,” Mauk said. “He knows what’s going on, and it’s kind of just in his blood. He knows progressions, he’s got a good grasp of the office already and now you’ve just got to get that experience. Throw him in there in the game and see what he can do.”
Mauk said he actively helps Lock, that he wants to mentor the Tigers’ next young stud quarterback, but that it’s a two-way street. He also expects Lock to help him prepare through dual film study and by passing along his thoughts on the defense’s coverages.
It’s still Mauk’s team, but Lock is clearly the future.
“Maty is still the No. 1 guy,” Simon said. “No doubt about that. Maty is still the No. 1 guy, but Drew is definitely going to be a player for Mizzou.”
Mauk will continue to log the lion’s share of minutes, but Lock ought to be in line for one or more series in most games, too. It would be shocking if he doesn’t receive the Chase Daniel, Blaine Gabbert, James Franklin treatment.
“We had some success with” getting freshman quarterbacks into games “here, and it’s ideal to do that,” said Pinkel, who had a similar philosophy as an assistant coach at Washington and as Toledo’s head coach.
During three fall-camp scrimmages, Lock performed brilliantly, going 38 of 51 — 74.5 percent — for 484 yards with four touchdowns against one interception.
“Man, his accuracy is just deadly,” senior safety Ian Simon said of Lock. “It’s crazy. You sit back and watch them on film, and you’re just like, ‘Wow, I can't believe you made that throw.’ There’s been more than a few like that. Honestly, he doesn’t like a freshman out there. The guy looks like he’s been playing college ball for a few years now — just how he handles himself in the pocket, some of the moves he makes, the decisions he makes. He doesn’t look like a freshman.”
Mauk was 31 of 56 — 55.4 percent — for 305 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, but he’s also 14-4 as a started during the last two seasons for Missouri.