Mauk of ages ... Rock 'n' Mauk football ... Sittin' on the Mauk of the Bay (Berman'd)...
He did briefly lose the plot. Late in the first half, it appeared that Maty Mauk was getting lost in the weeds a bit. He made a really poor read and was picked off by Brian Poole with under four minutes left in the second quarter. Henry Josey's shoestring tackle of Poole prevented a pick six, which would have made the score 13-10; five plays later, Kony Ealy smoked Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy, and Andrew Wilson recovered the ensuing fumble at the Missouri 41. No harm, no foul. But then the next pass Mauk threw was also almost picked off. He needed halftime, and he got it.
Mauk's first 10 passes of the second half: 7-for-10 for 151 yards. His mistakes didn't cost Missouri enough to matter, and once he got a moment to gather himself, he dominated.
In all, Mauk's accuracy on the slants and over-the-middle throws could use a little work -- that's one area James Franklin certainly still seems superior -- but wow, can this guy throw pretty balls downfield. His decision-making was mostly strong, and he completed seven passes of at least 15 yards against one of the best pass defenses in the country.
I'd go through the first career starts of previous Missouri quarterbacks, but while a lot of them were quite memorable (Brad Smith vs. Illinois, Chase Daniel vs. Murray State and Ole Miss, Blaine Gabbert vs. Illinois), none involved the pressure and high degree of difficulty that Mauk's did. He had to face one of the best defenses in the country (even with the injuries), and he had to keep a surging team undefeated. And he did it. He averaged 8.2 yards per pass attempt, never got sacked, and really didn't make a single mental error in the second half.
Winning's a funny thing, by the way. The more pressure you overcome, the more pressure you face. Now Mauk's going to have to guide a top-10 team over Steve Spurrier, Jadeveon Clowney and company. The stakes have been raised again.
On their first visit to Faurot Field, the Gators and their trademark chomp had officially been mocked.
Filling in for injured starter James Franklin, Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk made his first college start a memorable one, doing things to the Southeastern Conference’s most fearsome defense that quarterbacks aren’t supposed to do, much less redshirt freshmen. Mauk guided the 14th-ranked Tigers to 500 yards of offense — the most against Florida in more than five years — and wrestled the Gators into submission.
Mauk didn’t single-handedly beat No. 22 Florida 36-17, but surrounded by a loaded ensemble cast, Mauk did his part as the conductor, leading the Tigers to eight scoring drives against a defense that held its last 15 SEC opponents to 24 points or less.
"Quite honestly," said Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, the first Mizzou coach to beat ranked opponents on consecutive weeks since Al Onofrio in 1973, "if you watched him play in high school, that’s how he looked. The bigger the game, the better he played."
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Don't EVER scare us like that again, Henry
The crowd usually gets quiet during injuries. But when Henry Josey went down favoring what appeared to be his hip or his knee, eventual silence was preceded by 67,000 people all saying "NO. No, no, no, no, NO. F***. NO," almost in unison. And then he got up and ripped off a 50-yarder.
Missouri leaned more on the running game after halftime while protecting an ever-increasing lead, rushing 21 times for 143 yards after intermission. Josey scored a 6-yard touchdown early in the third quarter that put the Tigers ahead 20-10.
They kept grinding out yards even as Josey and Hansbrough were knocked temporarily out of the game.
Hansbrough suffered a turf toe injury in the third quarter, but it was the sight of Josey lying on the turf later in the period that left a sellout crowd silent and put fear into the minds the Tigers. It brought back memories of the devastating knee injury he suffered against Texas in 2011.
"My heart honestly dropped," offensive tackle Justin Britt said after Josey's 5-yard loss.
"When he's holding his leg, I didn't know what was going on, so I was just hoping and praying he was OK," Pinkel said. "What he went through for two years to get back and then all the sudden it gets tweaked like it hasn't been since it's been fixed, and he was just scared to death."
But Josey, who was requested but did not show up for interviews after the game, turned out to be fine, as he showed with a 50-yard run late in the third quarter during another scoring drive. He finished with 136 yards on 18 carries, his most since he ran for 162 yards against Texas A&M in 2011.