249 passing yards.

No touchdowns.

Five interceptions.

Missouri Tigers quarterback Maty Mauk can’t seem to get right in SEC play. Judging by his stats above, you wouldn’t believe Mauk’s 2-1 in those games with both wins coming on the road, but somehow he’s pulled it off.

Not meeting expectations

Coming into the season, Mauk was viewed as one of the top young guns at quarterback in the entire SEC. Last season, during his time as a backup and occasional starter, Mauk impressed onlookers with his mental toughness and ability to make plays. He was even labeled as “Maty Favre” by ESPN’s Matt Millen after an overtime loss to South Carolina.

Now as the full-time starter, his numbers were expected to balloon in 2014, thanks to Gary Pinkel’s spread offense and an experienced trio of receivers, but that simply hasn’t been the case.

He hasn’t blossomed into the gamer everyone thought he would be. Instead, he’s exhibiting all the signs of a young, inexperienced quarterback: leaving the pocket early, rushing his throws, and trying to do too much, too often.

Mauk’s abysmal statistics over the last few weeks has even forced Missouri fans to call for a change at quarterback, although the coaching staff isn’t planning on making a move. Rather, they believe in Mauk and are prepared to give him every opportunity to get out of this funk. Despite two straight blowout games — a 34-0 loss against Georgia and a 42-13 win at Florida — Mauk’s received all the snaps at quarterback.

“Mental toughness is really how you get through these things,” Pinkel said. “You battle through it. He’s not used to having people wanting another quarterback to come in. I don’t think that’s ever happened in his life, but he’s got my support and the team’s support.”

It’s been a big fall from where Mauk was at the beginning of the season. Three weeks into the year, Mauk was among the nation’s leaders with 12 passing touchdowns and the Tigers were off to a quick 3-0 start. Even in the loss to Indiana on Sept. 20., Mauk looked impressive, throwing for 331 yards and two touchdowns.

But the dramatic drop began when Missouri visited South Carolina just a week later as the sophomore signal caller completed roughly one-third of his 35 passes and was largely shut out until a couple drives late in the fourth quarter. And he hasn’t been able to reverse course since.

Is it all his fault?

The majority of Mauk’s meltdown certainly falls on his shoulders, but there have been contributing factors outside of Mauk’s control as well. Mainly, the poor blocking by the Tigers’ offensive line.

The pressure on Mauk has been constant over the last few weeks. The line has allowed six sacks in three games and the lack of containment forced Mauk out of the pocket too many times.

He has the speed to make plays with his legs, but if he’s leaving too early, which often seems to be the case, he’s not showing enough confidence in his offensive line to block for him and it’s caused some issues. His completion percentage has taken a major hit against SEC opponents, averaging around 37 percent. Against South Carolina, he completed just 1-of-10 passes outside the pocket.

“At times we’ve got to do a better job protecting him,” offensive coordinator Josh Henson said. “The thing we always tell Maty is, ‘You’ve got to trust [the pocket], no matter if it is breaking down. You’ve got to hang in there and make the throws you need to make.’ At the same time you don’t want to limit a guy’s ability to make plays with his feet. He’s got to have a feel for when that is.”

Lack of depth at the wide receiver position has also aided the struggles for Mauk. Injuries to Jimmie Hunt and Darius White, two of Missouri’s top three receivers, kept the Tigers from a fully healthy group against both South Carolina and Georgia.

Behind those two and leading wide receiver Bud Sasser, no other Missouri wide receiver has more than three receptions on the season. When forced to play the younger receivers in White and Hunt’s absence against South Carolina, no receiver other than Sasser had more than one reception.

It wasn’t much better versus Georgia as Mauk threw four interceptions and completed just nine passes all game. Overall, the receivers as a whole need much better communication and chemistry with Mauk or the passing game will continue to falter.

Moving forward, the opportunity is there starting this weekend for Mauk to turn it all around. Over the course of Missouri’s remaining five games, three teams rank 10th or worse in the SEC in passing defense and Pinkel is confident this rough patch will merely be a learning experienced for his quarterback, rather than signs of long-term issues.

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“My biggest thing is for him to believe in himself, because he’s done it before,” Pinkel said. “We’ve seen him do it on big stages. He’ll look back at this as an experience that really helped him.”

“The answers are not to abandon everything,” Henson added. “The answers are to get better at the things we need to get better at. You watch the film, there’s opportunities for us there to make plays. There’s a lot of opportunities.”

There’s a high ceiling for Mauk and only time will tell if Mauk’s able to take advantage of those opportunities, but he should have every chance to right this ship this weekend against Vanderbilt.

If he’s able to correct the mistakes, Missouri will be primed for a strong finish to 2014.