Campus Corner

Ask Tod: MU’s backup quarterbacks, run game and unnerving politeness

tpalmer@kcstar.com

Missouri running back Ish Witter (21) found a hole between South Carolina defensive end Boosie Whitlow (49) and defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth (90) as Missouri offensive linemen Taylor Chappell (62) and Mitch Hall (73) blocked during last Saturday’s game at Faurot Field.
Missouri running back Ish Witter (21) found a hole between South Carolina defensive end Boosie Whitlow (49) and defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth (90) as Missouri offensive linemen Taylor Chappell (62) and Mitch Hall (73) blocked during last Saturday’s game at Faurot Field. skeyser@kcstar.com

So, what happens if Missouri true freshman quarterback Drew Lock gets injured Saturday against No. 11 Florida at Memorial Stadium?

Sophomore Eddie Printz and redshirt freshman Marvin Zanders are listed as the co-backup quarterbacks on the Tigers’ depth chart behind Lock, but what was the plan against South Carolina?

“We’d have played both,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. “That’s the plan right now. That was the plan for that game.”

Asked if Printz and Zanders would have alternated series, Pinkel said, “I wouldn’t go that far.”

He offered precious little insight into how the Tigers would handle a rotation between Printz and Zanders.

It was even suggested by a reporter that both might play at the same time.

“Yeah, one would’ve played tailback,” a wry-smiling Pinkel said, presumably as a joke.

He wasn’t joking when he talked about the growth of his wide receiver corps, which needs to continue to mature and develop as playmakers regardless of who’s at quarterback.

“All those guys are getting better,” Pinkel said. “I’ve seen them in practice. Several weeks ago, wow, I’m leaving practice and I just went home depressed. You see ability, but they’re just dropping balls and you see immaturity. That’s just normal. That’s part of the deal, but we’re slowly getting better and it’s neat to see it.”

You know what else is neat? You questions, so let’s get to them:

If Russell Hansbrough’s truly healthy, you’ve got to feed him the ball. He has game-breaking potential. We’ve all seen it on more than one occasion. No offense to Ish Witter, but he has yet to flash that game-breaking potential. He’s still a sophomore, so the epitaph is nowhere near written on his career.

Against this Florida defense, in a must-win game for your SEC East division title hopes, you have to feed a healthy Hansbrough the ball. It’s hoped that Witter can capture some of the form he showed last week, when he finished with career highs of 17 carries and 98 yards, because Missouri wants a legitimate 1-2 punch in the backfield.

It’s worked well for years, but injuries and depth has prevented it from happening this season. Perhaps that changes against the Gators.

Mike, the play of the offensive line. Missouri is a much better team when it has balance on offense. The lack of a run game really hamstrung the Tigers in the first four games. A big reason for last week’s relatively easy win against South Carolina was a successful run game.

If the MU line can bring the same physicality to the Florida game, it gives Missouri a chance to put some points on the board and hang around for a chance at victory in the fourth quarter.

If you missed what Luke’s referring to, it came from Landon Watnick’s oral history of last season’s Missouri-Florida game for Rivals, which included a quote from former Florida linebacker Michael Taylor on the polite nature of the Tigers’ team:

“The last two years we played them, they were just upstanding citizens. You would talk mess and would say something disrespectful to them and they were just like, ‘OK.’ They were just nice guys helping you off the field. And they were good, which kind of disturbed me. Like, ‘Say something, talk trash, do something.’ Don’t just be nice.”

It’s called killing ‘em with kindness.

Paul, I can’t do much to address the crazy rumors, because Missouri can’t or won’t detail the reason for his suspension. Officially, it’s as simple as Maty Mauk broke team rules and is suspended indefinitely for it.

Mauk generally has been a good kid in my dealings with him — polite, accommodating and unflinching. He isn’t particularly provocative, especially in group interviews. That makes his quotes kind of bland sometimes, but schools often train players in interview techniques to avoid bulletin-board material. It’s not uncommon. One-on-one, he’s more thoughtful and engaging.

It’s obviously a difficult time for Mauk with everything he’s dealing with surrounding his father’s health and his current status with the Tigers. It can’t be easy to have something you love taken away, deserved or not. I understand the intrigue, but I also don’t deal in speculation and rumors.

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