TOLEDO, Ohio — Maty Mauk is off to a fine start as Missouri’s full-time quarterback.
Mauk calmly guided the Tigers past upset-minded Toledo on Saturday, throwing for a career-high 325 yards and five touchdowns in a 49-24 victory. After that road win over a solid Mid-American Conference program, Missouri moved up to No. 20 in the AP poll Sunday.
”Maty really played well,” coach Gary Pinkel said. ”He’s going to learn a lot from this game. It’s only his sixth start. There’s a lot of little things he needs to do better. He’s a playmaker. He did a really good job and when you produce numbers like that, the people around him are playing well.”
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Mauk went 3-1 as a starter last season in place of an injured James Franklin, and with Franklin now pursuing a pro career, it’s Mauk’s job to help the Tigers follow up last year’s impressive season. Missouri went to the Southeastern Conference title game in 2013.
The Tigers were the first SEC team to play at Toledo’s Glass Bowl, and the game seemed beforehand like a potential upset — but it turned out to be a rout. Missouri never trailed.
Pinkel coached Toledo from 1991-2000 before taking over at Missouri.
”I’m glad this day is over with and we can move on. I have some great memories here as well as some tough ones,” Pinkel said after the game. ”We had some great games here and that helped us build the program at Toledo. The people here at UT are great. People have always been good to me here and I was very committed to this program. I was very fortunate to be the head coach at UT for 10 years.”
The game was a homecoming of sorts for Mauk, too. He grew up in Ohio.
One of his biggest mistakes Saturday actually turned out fine for Missouri. Jordan Haden intercepted a pass by Mauk and returned it all the way to the Missouri 12, but receiver Bud Sasser made the tackle and forced a fumble that the Tigers recovered.
”I was running over that way, so I got a little bit of a look at it,” Mauk said. ”That is a football play. He chased him down, and all of a sudden the ball was loose. He knew that the guy wasn’t carrying the ball high and tight, and he just popped it out of there. It was a huge turning point for us.”
The score was 14-7 at that point. It was 35-21 in the third quarter when Mauk threw deep to Sasser on third down, then found him for a 25-yard touchdown on the next play.
Of the game’s 10 touchdown drives, only two were longer than 1:31, and four took less than a minute.
”I think we played better and improved, and that’s the rallying cry we always talk about — to improve as a team,” Pinkel said. ”I think we can get a lot better than we are right now and we’re going to work very hard to do that.”
Missouri has home games against Central Florida and Indiana before a huge SEC opener at South Carolina. The Gamecocks were the only team to beat the Tigers last season before Missouri also lost in the league title game.
The defeat against Auburn in the SEC championship game was noteworthy because Missouri allowed 545 yards rushing. The defensive front wasn’t great against Toledo either. Kareem Hunt ran for 148 yards and three touchdowns for the Rockets.
But Toledo’s offensive line is well regarded, and the Tigers have time to improve defensively.
Their quarterback certainly looks ready to lead the offense.
”He’s a very poised guy and also aggressive with a great arm,” Pinkel said. ”Plus he’s a great competitor and that’s what great quarterbacks are made of. He’s only going to get better and better with more experience.”