Missouri football's Maty Mauk hungry for improvement

Tuesday, August 5, 2014 | 5:07 p.m. CDT; updated 12:08 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Missouri first-string quarterback Maty Mauk shuffles back during the team's first football practice of the season at Memorial Stadium on Monday.

COLUMBIA — By most accounts, Maty Mauk had a successful 2013 season. 

The Missouri quarterback, playing his first year after redshirting in 2012, appeared in 10 games for the Tigers — four as a starter in place of then-injured senior James Franklin. He went 3-1 in those games, threw 11 touchdowns for the season and made Missouri fans look forward to what he could do in 2014. 

But only one number from last season sticks out to Mauk — 51. 

"The thing I'm looking at is (the) 51 percent completion rate," Mauk said Tuesday after practice.

"Yeah, we went deep a lot, but we got to fix that." 

Sure, not all of Mauk's deep balls were caught. And maybe his tendency to run, something Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Henson described as Mauk's "special ability," compensated for some errant passes, as well.

But Mauk knows when people think of accurate quarterbacks, a 60 percent completion rate is a must. Even so, Mauk is thinking of even better numbers for this season. 

"I want to shoot for the 70, 75 (percent) range," Mauk said. "That's a high level. You don't lose very many games doing that."

While such an improvement might seem extreme, Mauk has been on target this week. By Mauk's account, he threw only two incompletions during Tuesday's practice.

It's not just Mauk's accuracy he wants to improve. His relationship with his receiving corps, which in a year's time has gone from one of the most experienced in the Southeastern Conference to one of the least, is developing also. 

Senior receiver Bud Sasser said Mauk would review routes with the freshman receivers at Memorial Stadium this summer. When the lights come on during Saturday nights this fall, Mauk knows he'll be expected to lead the offense in a similar fashion. 

That leadership transition, from backup quarterback to role player to starter, is not lost on Mauk during fall camp. 

"I need to step up as a leader," Mauk said when asked to compare this year's camp to last year's. "That's the biggest difference." 

Despite the gains in accuracy, leadership and, seemingly, confidence, Mauk also lost eight to 10 pounds in July because of a viral infection. While Mauk has worked to gain some of that weight back, the viral infection may prove to be a blessing in disguise for Missouri's offense. 

"Yeah, I've lost some weight, but it was all weight that I didn't necessarily need," Mauk said, who is still listed by the team at his pre-infection weight of 200 pounds. "I feel a lot faster."

The dual-threat quarterback said that doesn't mean he'll be looking to run the ball every down. But when he sees a hole in the defense, Mauk intends to take off and make for the end zone. Henson said Tuesday that he knows there will be situations where Mauk will have to make those decisions on the fly.

"Over all this time, I still don't know how you tell that quarterback, 'Hey, if it's this (situation), run. If it's this, pass.'" Henson said. 

When asked to describe his quarterback, senior receiver Darius White used the words "great" and "quickness." White said there was some catching up to do for the offense after Mauk dealt with the virus, but he sees Mauk's performance so far in camp as a sign of things to come.

"It's all gonna come back," White said. 

Back this season as Missouri's starting quarterback, Mauk hopes his numbers will support White's accolades. 

Supervising editor is Raymond Howze.

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