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2014 Missouri spring football: Maty Mauk saves his best for last

Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

The Trib: Sophomore quarterback Mauk's maturity, popularity on full display in Black & Gold Game
KC Star: In Black and Gold Game, Maty Mauk shows he’s ready to take Missouri’s reins

Mauk led the Tigers to points on all three drives in the first half, which featured two 10-minute periods. He left at halftime — with the starters trailing 14-13 — after completing 11 of 15 passes for 129 yards.

Mauk didn’t throw for a touchdown, though he did run one in on a 3-yard option keeper, and finished the spring without any interceptions in Missouri’s three public scrimmages. He finished the spring 41 of 64 — 64.1 percent — for 446 yards with a touchdown.

"It’s coming together," said senior running back Marcus Murphy, who had a game-best 38 yards rushing in nine carries. "We’ve been working hard all spring, and we’re going to keep going in the summer and in the fall. We’re just going to get better."

Post-Dispatch: Mizzou offense still under construction
PowerMizzou: Steady, not spectacular
The Trib: There's gold at bottom of depth chart

The desire of coaches to play with all their toys can get in the way of a cohesive offense. For whatever success the Wildcat formation has had, it also has derailed drives by sending perfectly good quarterbacks off to the side. But a change-of-pace running quarterback can come in handy as a short-yardage specialist or to simply give a struggling offense a jolt.

It's hard to judge what Missouri has in Hosick, because what he does best — run angry — isn't applicable in practices and scrimmages. Quarterbacks can't be tackled.

"A lot of people have said I play the game from quarterback like a linebacker," said Hosick, a state champion high school wrestler. "Oftentimes, that's why they tell me I should switch positions. But that's something that makes me a little bit different, is I love contact. I don't go down very easily, and my ability to extend plays makes me a little bit different."

KBIA Sports: Mauk stands out in Black and Gold game

In a scrimmage environment, in which a quarterback is ruled down with a touch, Maty Mauk did manage to still score on an option touchdown near the goal line. But his most impressive feat on Saturday was the mundane. He took a couple of shots downfield and put perfect touch on a long pass to Darius White on his first series, but his ability to put proper touch on shorter passes and make easy pitch-and-catch throws here and there was exciting. Mauk is a born play-maker; he completed just 51 percent of his passes last year but averaged almost 16 yards per completion. He makes throws and plays James Franklin could not, but efficiency is huge, and last year Franklin was more efficient than Mauk.

As published above, Mauk completed something in the neighborhood of 64 percent of his passes in spring scrimmages. Granted, he averaged just 10.8 yards per completion as well. With the sack rules in the back of his head, he likely settled for shorter passes a few more times than he would in a game. But that's fine. We wanted to see increased maturity from Mauk this spring, and we saw just that.

As for the others...

Corbin Berkstresser's early, long pass to Gavin Otte was nice (even if Shane Ray says he "sacked" Berk before the pass was thrown). Otherwise, he also stayed relatively short and didn't show amazing pocket awareness.

Eddie Printz's nicest play went in the books as an incompletion; he stepped up into the pocket to avoid the pass rush, then rolled to his right and found tight end Jason Reese for probably a 15- or 20-yard gain, but Reese dropped the pass, and it was almost picked. Complete that, and his numbers go from 4-for-7 for 19 yards to 5-for-7 for about 35.

Trent Hosick had the funniest stat line of the day. He's still a one-read guy, as in, "If the first read's not open, either leave the pocket and make something happen or dump to the RB." He rushed twice for 14 yards and certainly looked like he could have gotten more than that if not for the touch rule, but on his first eight passes, he was just 3-for-8 for 14 yards, and I'm pretty sure all three completions were to running backs. And then he completed a 93-yarder to Eric Laurent -- a really nice pass catching Laurent in stride and punishing the walk-on safety for taking a terrible angle -- and skewed his stat line to a ridiculous degree.

And then there was Marvin Zanders, playing with mostly walk-ons, completing one of two passes, then taking advantage of the QB touch rule in a different way. He kept the ball on a read option, burst through the line, and as defenders converged but let up to avoid tackling him, he made them look silly. He looked quick enough that he might have broken his 80-yard touchdown run even with the three to four defenders going for the tackle, but they were at least a smidge flat-footed, and he took complete advantage. And then he did the "cross the tape" thing as he hit the end zone, which was a nice touch.

With their athleticism, it's easy to see why both Hosick and Zanders are considered candidates for other positions if quarterback doesn't work out, but it's super early in their careers, and they in no way look incompetent behind center. Still, Mauk's the man, and he's got three years of eligibility left. If they want to see the field before 2017, they might want to experiment a bit.