Young Missouri offense shows signs of life

The Tigers look to this summer for their biggest improvements.
Missouri Tigers junior quarterback Maty Mauk (7) sets up to pass during the Black and Gold game April 18, 2015, at Faurot Field in Columbia, Mo. Mauk finished the game with a touchdown.

There seems to be a pattern of key c-words that Maty Mauk and Co. are focusing on.

Confidence, chemistry and consistency.

Finishing up spring practices with the Black and Gold game last Saturday, this summer will be paramount for the Missouri football team to perfect these ideals.

As expected, the Tigers’ defense has been on top of its game. The offense, however, has been struggling all spring.

Following the graduation of star wide receivers Bud Sasser, Jimmie Hunt and Darius White, along with Marcus Murphy, the offensive contingent has been weakened.

A strong showing from the Tigers’ unknown wide receivers in the spring’s last scrimmage, however, seems to have given Mizzou fans a shimmer of hope.

“It’s a problem-solving business,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. “Offensively, we moved the linemen around all spring. A lot of adjustments, receivers and such. We’re a lot better than we were a week ago, but we’ve got a ways to go. Now, can we get there? There’s no question about it. We have to get there.

“That’s my job to get that done, and that’s not unlike any other spring. You like everything to be perfect and in shape, but rarely does that ever happen. We’re excited about building and getting ready for September.”

In the team’s four spring scrimmages, starting quarterback Mauk completed 34 passes in 68 attempts, along with three touchdowns and two interceptions in 296 yards. Backup Eddie Printz followed, racking up 35-of-85, with 259 yards and four interceptions.

On the receiving end, sophomore J’mon Moore led with 13 catches, tallying 136 yards and two touchdowns, including one at the Black and Gold game.

With the diluted receiver corps, Moore will be looked at to take the No. 1 spot.

“I got a chance to show a glimpse of what I do, so hopefully I can get more in during the season,” he said. “It’s good to have those touchdowns, but I gotta move forward. If I want to keep scoring, I gotta work hard in the summer. Those are some good things that I did, but I gotta let them go and move forward.”

Mauk was quick to praise Moore and his improvements and emphasized the importance of chemistry on the young team, suggesting it’s a big reason for the visible improvements in the offense.

“(Moore’s) starting to realize what he can really do,” Mauk said. “He’s a six-three body that can go up. He’s athletic, can make the catches, make people miss, so he has that whole package. He’s just gotta be consistent, and that’s something we’re going to work on. All summer long, it’s just going to be continuing to build chemistry with these guys and get everything to how we need it to be.”

Pinkel is on the same page as Mauk, citing chemistry as the reason for last year’s offensive successes.

“You have to have the chemistry between the quarterback and the receiving corps,” Pinkel said. “When Bud Sasser is on the play, Maty knows exactly how he’s going to adjust in everything he does. Well, we don’t have that fuel right now. We’ll kind of see where we go in terms of the personnel on the field. It’s going to be something we have to decide in August.”

The wide receivers will have another addition in the coming weeks, as sophomore Nate Brown makes his return from a knee injury.

Being looked to lead the unknown receivers along with Moore, “Nasty Nate,” who played nine games and tallied five catches for 45 yards as a true freshman last year, missed a lot of the Tigers’ spring training, including Saturday’s scrimmage.

“It’s going to be a huge summer for (Brown),” Mauk said. “He’s played a little bit, but he’s got a lot of work to do, and that’s something we’re going to need to work on.

“I know I’m going to be out there with those guys every day. We’re going to get what we have to done and we’re going to play at a high level and keep getting better.”

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