The University of Missouri Tigers’ preseason is quickly winding down as the team went full pads for the last time yesterday for team scrimmage. The Tigers enter the 2014 season as both SEC East and Cotton Bowl Champions. Approaching their 3rd season in the SEC, Head Coach Gary Pinkel and his team have proved themselves as contenders in the conference.
At the center of Mizzou’s offense is 6’0’’, 200lb, starting quarterback Maty Mauk (@MIZ_MAUK7_ZOU). Last season, the Ohio native proved himself when the opportunity arose as he made four starts while starting quarterback James Franklin was injured. Doing so, Mauk earned himself 2013 Team Freshman of the Year and was named to the 2013 SEC All-Freshman Team. Mauk ended the 2013 season by leading the Tigers to a 2nd quarter touchdown in their Cotton Bowl win.
Mauk has proved himself a definite starter after last season along with his performance during preseason camp/scrimmages.
I sat down with the 2014 Heisman candidate both before and after camp to discuss last season’s success, the future, and his game.
“I’m working on getting my body in the best shape possible, to play the best football I’ve played in my career” commented Mauk during our one-on-one a week before the Tigers began training camp.
When I asked Mauk his opinion of the team this year following their tremendous success last season, his answer was straightforward.
“Last year is over with.” stated Mauk simply.
“I know we’re going to have a good year and everything is going to pay off.”
Coming off a 12-2 campaign, as SEC East and Cotton Bowl Champions, Mizzou is sitting at 24th; the lowest ranked SEC team in the preseason polls. Last season, their only losses were to South Carolina who finished the season at number 4 and to Auburn in the SEC Championship game, finishing number 2. Despite popular belief that the Mizzou Tigers have received the biggest preseason snub in college football history, the Tigers use this as motivation; Mauk especially.
“People are going to talk and that’s fine. We’ve been working as hard as anybody else and we know what our goals are and what we need to accomplish.”
The Missouri Tigers displayed strong play this preseason, leading up to their final scrimmage on the 21st of August.
“I thought we did pretty good, we went down and we scored points,” explained Mauk following the final scrimmage Thursday. “Obviously, we want six and not three but you’ll take it when you need it. That’s our main focus this week.”
Mauk complimented the ground game of his team and the work they’ve done this preseason.
Mauk, who’s been projected as a possible 2014 Heisman candidate, is beginning to come full circle as a starter.
“A tremendous amount more.” answered Mauk when I asked about his confidence this season versus last. “Now when I go out there, I can tell myself ‘This guy isn’t anything to me.’ I can make plays without worrying about anything. I’m being me now.”
Mauk is being himself now; he’s confident, in fact, he’s fearless. John Anderson talked with St. Louis’ 101 ESPN Radio, explaining Maty Mauk “is not afraid and does not lack any confidence”. He went deeper into Mauk’s ability to throw the ball and make plays, something Mauk craves.
“If the ball is in my hand, I wanna make something happen with it” said Mauk.
When asked about his low-completion percentage Mauk said, “I have to get the ball out to my guys, that’s my job.”
Mauk stressed the need for continued consistency by the team as a whole.
“I feel good, our guys feel good; we’re ready for the year,” said Mauk. “We almost there. We just have to be more consistent.”
Besides taking the Tigers back to the SEC Championship, Mauk has a personal feat that he longs to fulfill.
“To leave no doubt of whose the best quarterback in the nation”
Coming off a groundbreaking 2013 season, an experienced-new starting quarterback, and being apart of possibly the biggest preseason snub in college football history, 2014 will be a season to remember for the University of Missouri Tigers. It all starts next Saturday with the Tigers at home, 77,000 strong.
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