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Missouri 31, Tennessee 3: Maty Mauk's audition is possibly over for now

The Trib: Mauk's brand of 'craziness' suits Missouri in 31-3 win over Tennessee

After seeing Mauk's performance over his first three games as a college starter, the Tigers feel like Mauk is their kind of crazy.

"James" Franklin "has kind of a calming presence in the pocket. That means I can kind of step up the craziness," senior left guard Max Copeland said. "But Maty's got plenty of craziness." […]

If Franklin comes back against Kentucky, Mauk will have aided Missouri to a 2-1 record over a crucial stretch of the season, one in which the Tigers could have easily crumbled.

If Franklin's still another game away, Missouri can always count on a little bit of "craziness" to see it through.

The Trib: Tigers defense gives freshman QB time to settle in
KC Star: MU notes: Franklin available but doesn’t play

"Our thought was, (we had him) if we needed him just to finish the game, but if he had to play a half or three quarters, he wouldn’t have played," Tigers coach Gary Pinkel said.

It never became an issue as Missouri never trailed during a 31-3 victory. Pinkel suggested Franklin, who has completed 132 of 195 passes for 1,577 yards with 14 touchdowns and three interceptions, could return next Saturday at Kentucky.

"I think he’s going to be very close next week," Pinkel said.

Post-Dispatch (Burwell): Mauk steps up with Franklin waiting in wings
PowerMizzou: Meeting in the middle
Fox Sports MW: A more confident Mauk filling in admirably at QB
Mizzou Network: HIGHLIGHT: Mauk 26 yd TD to Washington vs. UT
Mizzou Network: HIGHLIGHT: Mauk 40 yd TD to Lucas vs. UT
Mizzou Network: HIGHLIGHT: Mauk 9 yd TD to DGB vs. UT
Mizzou Network: POSTGAME: Maty Mauk Tennessee Post-Game Interview

If Maty Mauk's run as Missouri's starting quarterback in 2013 has come to an end, if James Franklin is ready to go next week in Kentucky as we seem to be assuming, then we can say that Mauk's trial worked out almost perfectly. He both performed admirably and still left little doubt that, for now, James Franklin is still probably the best quarterback on the team. In 11 of Mauk's 12 quarters, Missouri outscored its opponent by an 84-20 margin, and while Missouri's season may very well have been defined to some degree by that other quarter, the bottom line is that Missouri kept looking like a top-10 team for most of the Mauk experiment. That's pretty awesome.

It's obvious that Mauk still has plenty to work on as he gears up to win the starting job in Spring 2014 (or as he gears up to start against Kentucky, if it comes down to that, of course); he still forces the ball into windows that are too small sometimes, and he does seem to have some of both the good (never scared, always playing aggressively) and bad (tries too hard to make plays instead of taking what's given to him) of Brett Favre in him; cutting out a little of that bad would be an awesome thing, though it's clear that his good and bad traits come from the same place.

The game will slow down for Maty Mauk in the future, and that's an awesome thing considering how good he looked at times with the game sped up.

All you have to do is look around the SEC and Big 12 to see the kind of effect an injured quarterback can have on a team's prospects. Hell, all you have to do is look back at Missouri in 2012. Missouri was 5-0 when he took over for James Franklin in the fourth quarter at Georgia. The Tigers are now 8-1.

Low completion percentage or not, Mauk made plays, never looked overwhelmed, and all but maintained Missouri's perfection in Franklin's absence. Missouri missed Franklin, especially late against South Carolina, but we also now know that Missouri probably won't miss Franklin just a ton in 2014 and beyond. That's almost all you can ask for.