Maybe Missouri fans had too high of hopes for their quarterback, but Maty Mauk’s 2014 didn’t exactly live up to expectations.

The then-redshirt sophomore quarterbacked the Tigers to an 11-3 record and SEC East title, but Missouri’s dynamic running game and stout defense often shined brighter than the QB who showed so much promise while playing a relief role in 2013.

Mauk himself said before last year’s camp that he wanted to complete betwen 70 and 75 percent of his passes. He didn’t come close to that, completing just 53.4 percent of his throws for a meager two percent increase from 2013.

Missouri fans may have reduced expectations for their quarterback, but Mauk’s inconsistent pocket play and knack for being reckless (which can be good and bad) poses a wide range of scenarios for 2015.


The Scenario: Mauk’s ability to make plays with his feet, coupled with strong play from the running backs, opens up plenty of space for Missouri’s young receivers.

Mauk turns Wesley Leftwich into T.J. Moe 2.0 with a constant supply of mid- and short-range completions. Mauk is able to get three or more deep completions to J’Mon Moore and Nate Brown a game, and the quarterback uses his tight ends to finish the job in the red zone.

Missouri’s offensive line stays healthy while keeping Mauk among the least-sacked quarterbacks in the conference. He also throws the ball away rather than attempting more risky passes, reducing his interception total to below nine. Mauk makes at least second-team All-SEC.

While not quite the ceiling that many envision for Mauk, Missouri fans will be more than happy with this scenario. If he takes the next steps in terms of pass distribution, clock management and ball control, what is more or less a gap year for Missouri’s offense could blossom. It may not be Maty Heisman, but this is a good scenario for the Tigers returning to the SEC Championship.


The Scenario: The receivers don’t develop as planned, in large part due to Mauk’s inaccuracy. Mauk tries to overcompensate by recklessly escaping the pocket. His exposure to big hits limits his deep throwing ability, and the passing game never gets off the ground. Mauk’s numbers resemble those he posted during conference play last season. 

Mauk didn’t inherit the perfect offense last season, and that’s certainly the case again this year. While young receivers like Brown and DeSean Blair may look good against Southeast Missouri State, SEC opponents could be a completely different story.

That was certainly the case for Mauk last season. After a career day last September against Toledo, Mauk’s play sputtered when the Tigers progressed through the conference schedule. While Missouri has a pretty favorable SEC schedule in 2015, it won’t matter much if Mauk again throws four interceptions to the likes of Georgia.


The Scenario: Not only do the receivers fail to develop, but minor camp injuries get worse and the position becomes a non-reliable revolving door.

In addition to not finding open receivers, Mauk doesn’t have as much time in the pocket as last season because of weaknesses on the right side of the line. Opposing defenses are more than prepared for his rollouts, and Mauk’s scrambling leads to him being the most hit quarterback this side of Vanderbilt.

Tight end Sean Culkin doesn’t progress from last season, and Russell Hansbrough isn’t the same back as when he was partnered with Marcus Murphy. Missouri’s offense falls to the lower fourth of the SEC. Mauk loses playing time to Drew Lock or Eddie Pritnz. 

Even if this scenario plays out, Missouri should still have a respectable 2015. A solid defense and depth at the quarterback position are fail-safes that other SEC teams envy. But for Mauk, who at one point was on track to be one of the Tigers’ all-time greats, a legacy could be tarnished.

Missouri coaches and players love Mauk for his win-at-all-costs attitude, but without the offensive pieces and improved maturity under center, Mauk’s flame may blow out. Worst-case for the current starter, Tigers fans may see the position evolve into a true quarterback competition with Printz, a more natural pocket passer, and Mauk. As for Lock, don’t forget that Missouri coach Gary Pinkel played Brad Smith as a freshman.


Projected Numbers: 2,900 passing yards, 57 percent completion percentage, 6 yards per attempt, 24 touchdown passes, nine interceptions; 650 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns.

As often happens in life, Mauk’s 2015 projections should fall somewhere in between the extremes.

Missouri fans who think this year’s receivers will adjust as quickly as last year’s may be in for disappointment, but that could open up more opportunities for designed run from the quarterback spot. Mauk only rushed for 373 net yards last season, but offensive coordinator Josh Henson could use the quarterback as the speedy counterpart to Hansbrough to add dynamism. Assuming Missouri’s line is as good as advertised, Mauk’s undisputed rushing ability could also be one of the key ways the Tigers score touchdowns, especially near the red zone.

There will still be times when Mauk frustrates, though. The key will be for Mauk to space out the risky throws that lead to interceptions. Mauk completed six games with zero picks in 2014, but the Georgia game (four) and Citrus Bowl (two in the first half) showcased the quarterback’s bad side. Missouri’s defense should force plenty of turnovers of its own, so the Tigers should be fine if Mauk throws fewer than 10 interceptions.

Still, Pinkel won’t want Mauk to stop being Maty. The rollouts, wrist flicks and pirouettes will all still be a part of Mauk’s game. Mauk just can’t let it stop him from from more consistent play.