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2015 Missouri spring practice: Healthier Mauk looks for receivers (in the pocket!)

Maty Mauk is sleeker, faster, and looking for receivers (in the pocket!), Eric Laurent is taking advantage of Nate Brown's injury, Wesley Leftwich is trying to both lead and get his, and Andrew Baggett tries to add "starting punter" to the résumé.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports Mizzou Football coverage

With 15 days to go before Mizzou's spring game, there are actually a few links to share!

Maty Mauk's improving

The Trib (Behind the Stripes): MU Notes: The "Thinner, Sleeker Maty Mauk" edition

The Tigers have stressed stepping up in the pocket with their junior quarterback, and he said the message is starting to sink in.

"I've probably stepped up more in the last two days than I have in the last two years," Mauk said. "That's something I really want to focus on, and just getting the ball out quick, getting it to our guys and letting them make plays."

That's the sort of thing offensive coordinator Josh Henson likes to see.

He also likes to see his offensive line giving Mauk that luxury.

"It's the same old story, different verse," Henson said. "One, we've got to provide a good pocket but two, we want him to step up, or step up, then run. We don't want the stand back and bail out and all of a sudden we're 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage. We've been working on keeping the pocket better for him and him stepping up into it."

In the zero-sum universe of spring practice, the offensive line keeping a clean pocket means the defensive line isn't dirtying up the pocket enough, but one of the themes emerging from spring ball is that Maty Mauk wasn't nearly as impressive physically as he or anybody else wanted him to be last fall, be it because of carrying an injury and/or too much weight. And it appears that isn't the case right now.

The omnipresent "Does Mizzou have receivers?" question

PowerMizzou: Spring Notebook: 4/2

The staff asked Laurent to move to receiver because "the numbers weren't working out" at the quarterback spot. But that past as a quarterback has helped Laurent's transition.

"I wouldn't say it was an easy transition, but it was definitely easy as far as reading coverages, running the routes," Laurent said. "But in terms of technique and skill, it took a little time to do that. From never playing receiver to going to an SEC, Division-One level defense, it's pretty different, so I definitely had to adjust to that."

With that background, Laurent said he's also noticed improvements in Mauk.

"First off, his speed, he's a lot faster," Laurent said. "You can see it in his footwork and just everything. He moves way faster. And he's also throwing the ball downfield as he's moving. He's doing a great job there.

The Missourian: Missouri football’s Wesley Leftwich is leading while learning

This season, Leftwich has taken on a leadership role among the receivers while looking to increase his playing time.

"As the senior, I kind of take the reins," Leftwich said. "It's hard because sometimes you worry about yourself, but you also worry about all of them." [...]

Mauk has worked on getting to know his new targets, including Leftwich. The two first met when Mauk was visiting campus as a high school senior. However, they rarely played together in the same offensive unit. Mauk has spent most of his time practicing and playing with the first unit, while Leftwich has played with the second and third units.

"We’ve got to get to know each other like the back of our hands," Mauk said. "Once you do that, then you start going out there and crossing your T’s and dotting your I’s."

Who punts?

PowerMizzou: Triple duty?

As far as whether it's likely that Baggett will have a shot to handle all three kicking jobs for Missouri this spring, Gary Pinkel isn't ruling it out.

"We'll see where it goes," Pinkel said. "It's certainly a possibility. He was our back-up punter a year ago. We've got some people coming in, so we'll see where that goes, and obviously that's something that's circled. Some years you have that, some years you don't. That's an area we got to solve by the end of August."

Pinkel isn't handing the job to Fatony, but the fact that Missouri signed him to a scholarship out of high school makes the expectations clear. Jake Harry was the last punter Missouri signed, coming from Palomar (Cali.) Community College in the 2007 class.

Hey, Russ

PowerMizzou: Spring Close-Up: Practice No. 7