The Xtra Point: Battle Of The Replacements
COLUMBIA - Missouri is currently ranked 14th in the nation with a 6-0 record. They just upset a top ranked Georgia team last week and they are finally seen as a contender in the BCS.
But all of those accolades were garnered with James Franklin at quarterback.
Enter Maty Mauk. The redshirt freshman will be starting under center after Franklin was injured last week during the game against Georgia. This will be Mauk's first career start at the college level. Fans knew what Franklin was capable of coming into the season, but no one knows what to expect from Mauk.
While no one knows how Mauk will perform, people should know how Mauk got to Missouri. Mauk, a quarterback from Ohio, chose to come to Missouri after receiving offers from programs such as Michigan, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt and Illinois. He threw for a national prep record 5,760 passing yards in a season his junior year. Mauk also threw for 18,932 passing yards, 219 touchdowns and 63 interceptions during his high school career.
With Mauk under center for Mizzou, he may have a positive or negative impact.
Mauk could be an absolute disaster. He could have the same negative impact Corbin Berkstresser had last year for the Tigers during his relief effort for Franklin. Mauk could be the reason Mizzou plummets down the AP rankings and back into the cellar of the SEC. While Missouri already qualifies for a bowl game, he could be the reason the Tigers play in a bad bowl game and potentially lose that game.
Mauk could be a success. The definition of success for Mauk can range from being as good as Franklin or better than Franklin. He could keep the Tigers unbeaten and into the conversation of making the BCS Championship game or one of the other major bowls. Basically as long as he doesn't completely choke.
While the Tigers are concerned with their starting quarterback situation, so is their opponent: the Florida Gators. Florida's starting quarterback Jeff Driskel is out for the year and has ben replaced by junior Tyler Murphy. Murphy has done decent his his relief effort, but his stats are inflated due to the level of competition he's played. Murphy was stifled last week in the Gators loss to LSU last week with just 115 passing yards and no touchdown passes. Out of the three full games Murphy has started, only LSU has won an SEC game.
This game is going to be a battle of "who can be the worse quarterback?" The winner of that contest will be Murphy and it will cost Florida the game. Florida has lost a lot of offensive weapons already, including his starting right tackle and running back. Murphy does have help with the running back duo of Mack Brown and freshman and former five-star recruit Kelvin Taylor. As for Mauk, he is loaded with offensive playmakers such as the running back platoon of Henry Josey, Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy and big wideouts such as Marcus Lucas, Dorial Green-Beckham and L'Damian Washington.
Another reason why Murphy will ultimately lead to Florida's demise is pass defense. In this game, where there are two inexperienced quarterbacks at the helm, yards are not key, turnovers are. Whoever can make the least amount of mistakes will win. While Missouri has allowed more passing yards than Florida this year, their defensive line has done a great job pressuring the quarterback this year, forcing an FBS leading 13 interceptions this year, and have forced turnovers in 36 straight games. These quarterbacks range from the talents of Austyn Carta-Samuels to Heisman hopeful Aaron Murray.
This game will be a low scoring affair, but as I teased to before, Missouri will come up on top and take down the 22nd ranked Gators this Saturday. Mauk will live to play another week.
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