By Brandon Kiley, KBIA Sports
COLUMBIA — Sophomore quarterback Maty Mauk was the center of attention at Monday’s media day.
The Missouri Tigers football team begins their season Saturday against South Dakota State. Mauk, who went 3-1 in the four games he started in 2013, said he is anxious to show fans what he can do as Missouri’s full-time starter.
“I think it’s a little bit different because I’m coming in knowing it’s my time to play,” Mauk said. “I’ve had all year. It’s been killing me to just go out there and practice. I’m ready to go. I’ve been ready. Saturday night, when we start, I’ll be ready to go.”
Mauk’s teammates and coaches said they have noticed a subtle change in the way he carries himself on and off the field. Coach Gary Pinkel says the most notable change is that Mauk has become a leader.
“I think he’s done a good job,” Pinkel said. “He’s a very natural, unthreatening leader. Players like him. He’s got a great work ethic. He works really hard; I think that’s what’s most important in a leader.”
Pinkel said he believes in his sophomore quarterback. But he said he wants Mauk to understand that the players around him can help Mauk reach his potential.
Mauk’s first play from scrimmage as a starter in 2013 was a 41-yard pass against Florida down the right sideline to wide receiver L’Damian Washington. Mauk said he’s willing to take chances if he perceives the reward to be worth more than the risk.
“If it’s there, I’m going to take it,” Mauk said. “I know where my guys are going to be, and I’m going to get them the ball and we’re going to score. We’re going to come into this game like it’s anybody else. We’re not going to take them light, and we’re going to come out ready to go.”
Junior offensive lineman Evan Boehm said Mauk’s playing style will not impact the way the offensive line plays.
“Maty is going to be Maty,” Boehm said. “We know that. All we have to do is sit back and protect. That’s our job. Our job is to protect Maty and to let him get the ball in the playmakers hands and to make calls for the running backs. If Maty decides to roll out, we’ll roll out. If he decides to stay in the pocket, he’ll have a pocket there.”
Mauk completed 28 of his 55 attempts for 322 yards along with one touchdown and one interception in the team’s three intra-squad fall scrimmages.
“I’m not worried about any of that,” Mauk said. “That’s a scrimmage. We’re going out there against our own defense. When we go out there and we go up against unscripted stuff, it’s going to be different. We’re going to be ready Saturday and we’re going to come out firing.”
“I am going to be comfortable. I can’t wait for it to be Saturday,” Mauk said. “It’ll be here before I know it.”