On Saturday, just as Missouri was on the cusp of its biggest SEC win ever, starting quarterback James Franklin went down with a shoulder injury (and is out for three to five weeks). In came backup Maty Mauk to nurse a two-point, fourth-quarter Tiger lead at Georgia.
The redshirt freshman’s performance wasn’t the stuff of Lou Gehrig or Tom Brady legend, but the backup did run the offense successfully enough to secure a 41-26 road win that kept Missouri among the nation’s unbeaten. His final stat line: 3-for-3 for 23 yards, no TDs or INTs with 12 rushing yards on three carries tossed in for good measure.
According to starting center Evan Boehm, Mauk gained confidence quickly. “Maty is a natural leader,” Boehm said. “At first he was a little soft at the line giving us the call. At a place like Georgia, when it’s so loud, you can’t do that. We told him, ‘Hey, man. Take control. It’s your team now. It’s your offense.”
Saturday, Mauk will be directing the Tiger offense against a Florida defense that has made life miserable for opposing quarterbacks. Tops in the SEC in pass defense (allowing just 152 yards per game), here’s how opposing teams have fared when passing against the Gators:
|School||Result||Comp/Att||Comp %||Yds||Yds/Att||TD||INT||QB Rtg|
As you can see, only two teams completed more than 50% of their passes against Florida’s secondary. Only team had a yards-per-attempt average above 6.5.
Mauk gets the advantage of making his first college start at home in Columbia. But the defense he’s facing likely won’t make for a very pretty debut. But don’t tell that to the confident QB.
“We’ve got one of the best offenses, so we’re going to come right at them,” he said of Saturday’s game with Florida.
We shall see.