There are two sides to Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk.
There’s the player who managed to keep the Tigers in contention for their first SEC East title following James Franklin’s injury. The player who seemed to be a potential star entering the 2014 season.
Then there’s the Mauk we actually saw last season. The quarterback who, despite inconsistent play, did enough for Missouri to earn its second consecutive SEC Championship Game appearance.
During his first three conference games, Mauk’s quarterback rating was never higher than 68. He went 27-of-73 on passing attempts averaged 83 yards and recorded five interceptions and zero touchdowns.
The sophomore never threw for 300 yards in any conference game and only had multiple passing touchdowns against three teams (Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Tennessee). But Missouri’s coaches are confident that Mauk will show improvement in Year Three.
“One thing that’s neat about Maty, people talk about a sophomore slump and maybe he had it through a few games last year,” Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Henson told the Kansas City Star. “There was three games there where we didn’t play well as an offense and Maty wasn’t playing really well. … But Maty knew he had to get better and I think he improved in that process. He grew through some adversity.”
Despite never having the standout numbers many expected, Mauk did show signs of improvement in Missouri’s final seven games. He threw 11 touchdowns and four interceptions while rallying the Tigers to a first place division finish and a Citrus Bowl victory against Minnesota.
“That’s a great lesson for you to learn as a quarterback. You try to cut out the chatter and all the things that don’t matter. You stay focused on the process and, eventually if you do that, the process will turn you back into performing at the level you want to perform at.”
And really, what else can you ask for of Mauk. Sure he hasn’t been a statistical juggernaut but he’s proven to be a winning quarterback. Mauk is 14-4 as a starter including a 3-1 record as an incumbent to Franklin as a freshman.
Henson is optimistic of the rising junior’s improvement during spring practice and believes another quarterback battle has pushed him to reach his full potential.
“Maty had a good spring,” Henson said. “I like where he’s at coming out of that. The good news is there, I think we’ve got a couple guys there behind him playing really well. Obviously, you add another talented freshman, Drew Lock, into that mix. We’ve got some talent there and we’ve got some depth there. We’re probably as deep as we’ve been there, in my opinion, since I’ve been at Mizzou.”
To this point Mauk has been a Jeckyl and Hyde quarterback. Sometimes he shows the elusive playmaking ability that grabbed the conference’s attention during Missouri’s first surprise division title run. In other instances, he’s looked loss or in over his head.
Still, Mauk found ways to win football games early in his career and should continue to mature as a junior. This biggest struggle will be the departure of several key receivers including Bud Sasser. It’s hard to predict how Mauk will fare in his third season but he’s definitely facing a tall task with what seems to be a depleted Missouri offense.