(Missouri Football App) – Can Mizzou win with Maty Mauk leading the offense?
Predicting Mauk’s future performance based on what he has done up until now is difficult because has seen very little of the field. His play in the 4th quarter against Georgia was certainly encouraging. Head coach Gary Pinkel said the experience will help him going forward.
“He just got thrown into the fire pretty quickly there. It’s a pretty hostile environment (in Athens, Ga.), and it takes a lot of team communication. I think he did a good job. He is a pretty poised guy,” Pinkel said. “He is thoroughly excited about this opportunity at hand. He is surrounded by an experienced offensive line, and receiving core. He has a lot of good people around him, that will step up their game and that will help him out.”
The answer to the question presented at the start of this column is “yes,” but as Pinkel alluded to above, there are several keys to victory the Tigers must follow without their playmaking quarterback in the lineup.
Ground game: The rushing attack, which put up big numbers against Vanderbilt and was effective in the upset of Georgia, will be even more important. Marcus Murphy, Russell Hansbrough, and Henry Josey are running backs you can count on for both steady gains and big plays. If the running game is still a force to be reckoned with, it will take much of the pressure off Mauk and open up more possibilities in the passing game.
Wide Receivers: Mizzou fields some very tall targets for Mauk to throw to. Most of the Missouri receives are 6’ 2’’ or taller. Mauk needs to use their height to his advantage on passing plays. A good demonstration was the 20-yard pass Mauk completed to Dorial Green-Beckham late in the 4th quarter Saturday. Put the ball up high, and these talented receivers will catch it.
Defense: The Tigers are very good at taking the ball away. Mizzou is tied with Tennessee for the most turnovers created among SEC teams; the defense has taken the ball away 15 times this season. Dave Steckel’s group has either recovered a fumble or intercepted a pass in 36 consecutive games. If the defense continues to be opportunistic, it will make up for some of decreased offensive output that is expected while Mauk is the primary quarterback.
Special teams: Marcus Murphy set a school single season record by returning 4 kicks for touchdowns in 2012, but has yet to find the endzone after a punt or kickoff in 2013. With Franklin out, Murphy’s kick returns become even more important. Giving the offense better field position widens the options for offensive coordinator Josh Henson. Scoring touchdowns on returns will be an even bigger plus.