With freshman Maty Mauk set to fill in for injured starter James Franklin this week against Florida, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel was asked multiple times how Mauk’s presence would change the Tigers’ offensive game plan. Each time, Pinkel responded with the same statement.
“We’re just gonna run our offense,” Pinkel said.
Pinkel’s assistants and his players echoed the sentiment, saying that nothing will change for Missouri, even with Mauk making his first career start Saturday morning against the fourth-ranked defense in the country.
After redshirting last season, Mauk has been used sparingly in 2013. He is 5-6 for 41 yards on the season. When Franklin went down with a sprained shoulder against Georgia, Mauk completed all three of his passes and added 12 yards on the ground.
“We were confident with him on Saturday,” sophomore center Evan Boehm said. “You guys saw, he drove us down the field and scored a touchdown. That’s something special to do after sitting on the sideline all game, then in the fourth quarter having to come in after three warm up passes.”
Pinkel said that the experience at Georgia was good for him, saying that Mauk was thrown into the fire.
“When we jogged out, I kind of looked around and there wasn’t an empty seat; it was all red, except the corner where our people were,” Mauk said. “I got there, I gave them the play, I took a deep breath, and I said, ‘It’s go time.’”
Sophomore receiver Dorial Green-Beckham said the one adjustment needed would be timing; something that he said will get smoothed out this week in practice. Green-Beckham said he is confident in Mauk, especially when it comes to rushing or throwing the deep ball.
“We know what he’s capable of doing,” Green-Beckham said. “We just have to see it from him when he goes out there.”
Those strengths somewhat mirror Franklin’s. Through six games, Franklin threw five touchdown passes of 20 or more yards and averaged over 48 yards per game on the ground.
“Are there things that Maty does that he likes, that he’s comfortable with? Yes, we’re going to do those things,” offensive coordinator Josh Henson said. “Are they a lot of those same things we’ve been doing with James? They are.”
Mauk and Franklin competed for the starting over the summer. Franklin’s down year in 2012 and Mauk’s historic high school numbers made it appear that Mauk might have the edge early on. Pinkel announced Franklin the starter two weeks before opening day.
“Maty is just as good as James,” Boehm said. “James won the starting spot. James is a special kid. But we’re not going to treat the situation any different than if James was there.”