For about eight months, redshirt freshman Maty Mauk had a chance to be Missouri’s starting quarterback. Coach Gary Pinkel kept quiet on the subject of signal caller throughout spring practice, media days and the start of training camp.
Aug. 15, Pinkel announced senior James Franklin would receive that starting gig. Although the opportunity he worked for escaped him, Mauk said not much will change about the way he trains.
“I’m going to push him everyday,” Mauk said of Franklin. “So I’m going to get him as good as he can be, and at the same time, I’m going to keep pushing myself to be more consistent and everything like that.”
Mauk said his preparation will not end when he leaves the practice field.
“For each week, I’m going to prepare myself like I am the starter,” Mauk said. “I’m going to go through; I’m going to know everything that defense is doing like the back of my hand.”
The drive to be a student of the game comes from Ben, Mauk’s older brother, who set national passing records in high school — which his younger brother eventually broke — before playing for both Wake Forest and Cincinnati in college.
“He’s one of the smartest guys that I’ve ever known,” Mauk said. “He knew everything that was going to happen. It’s kind of weird because, when he was my coach in high school, he knew everything that they’d do before they did it. So if I can just keep learning from him, whatever it is and getting what he’s done down, I think I’ve got a pretty good chance to be pretty good.”
Although Franklin is the starter, Mauk should see some playing time, Pinkel said. He compared Mauk to eventual Heisman Trophy finalist and current Kansas City Chiefs backup Chase Daniel when he too was a freshman at MU.
“We’re going to consider doing with him as we did with a couple other quarterbacks that we’ve had in the past,” Pinkel said in a video posted on his website. “For example, when Brad Smith was a senior and Chase Daniel was a freshman, Chase played in almost every game, and he did that because he had the right to do it, and he was a good young player.”
Mauk’s role this season may also relate to Franklin’s back in 2010. Franklin entered the game mostly in short yardage rushing situations and even scored a critical touchdown in Missouri’s upset of No. 1 Oklahoma.
After starting every game of 2011, Franklin started just eight games last year due to injury, throwing for 1,562 yards. Franklin said his practice routine would not change with the announcement.
“It doesn’t really affect it at all, just keeps me doing what I’ve been doing,” Franklin said. “I’m just focusing on each play and getting better and helping the team win.”
Mauk has stayed positive throughout the process, taking the setback as a spark.
“It’s not frustrating at all; it’s going to motivate me to push myself even harder and to keep challenging James and to make him better, so I’m not worried about it,” Mauk said.
And for those situations when offensive coordinator Josh Henson or Pinkel call his name, Mauk said he had a plan for that, too.
“I just know that I’m going to be on the sideline, focused, ready to come in and make an impact,” Mauk said.