Over the coming weeks, BK will preview each and every position on the Mizzou football roster in anticipation for the 2015 season. The preview will begin the first week of July, and we will continue up until August 1st – which just so happens to be the first week of Mizzou football camp. See what we did there?
We start with the quarterbacks. Obviously, quarterback is hugely important in Missouri’s success – as is the case for any major college football team. Mizzou’s had an incredible run of quarterbacks under head coach Gary Pinkel. The team transitioned from Brad Smith to Chase Daniel to Blaine Gabbert to James Franklin to Maty Mauk seamlessly. I’m not sure you could find another team in all of college football that went the past 15 years without ever having a major question mark at the quarterback position. Say what you will about Gary Pinkel – and I’m not sure what, exactly, you could question at this point – he’s always got the quarterback position right.
Will that continue in 2015? Let’s take a look, shall we?
BK’s Projected Depth Chart:
- Maty Mauk, RS Junior
- Eddie Printz, RS Sophomore
- Corbin Berkstresser, RS Senior
- Marvin Zanders, RS Freshman
- Johnny Eirman, RS Freshman
Well, you could start with the fact that Missouri knows who its quarterback is. Very few SEC teams can say the same. Mizzou is one of just four SEC teams whose starting quarterback for the 2014 season-opener is also expected to start in 2015. Maty Mauk had his up’s and his down’s last year, but his play has been good enough for the Tigers to go 13-4 in his starts. That’s pretty damn impressive.
Mauk’s play really improved down the stretch last season, too. He had a quarterback rating above 110 in the team’s final seven games, and his 189 passing yards per game are the third most of all returning SEC quarterbacks. His biggest improvement came on third down. As I documented last week, Mauk was really bad on third down in the first four weeks of SEC play. But Mauk was actually quite good in third down situations over the second half of the SEC schedule.
Mauk has all of the tools. He’s quick, he has a high football IQ, and he has one of the best arms in the country (literally, ranked). If he improves his completion percentage and gets more comfortable in the pocket, he has the potential to be one of the five best quarterbacks in the SEC in 2015.
With Mauk, the high’s are really high and the lows are really low. Two games immediately come to mind that illustrate the bad – his four interception performance against Georgia, and his 6-18 game against Florida. Mauk was a combined 15/39 for 117 yards and 5 interceptions in those two games. Those performances illustrate Mauk’s greatest struggle as the Missouri starting quarterback; his completion percentage. Mauk has completed greater than 60 percent of his passes in just one of his 13 starts in conference play. That ain’t great.
Also working against Mauk is the fact that his top four receivers in 2014 (Bud Sasser, Jimmie Hunt, Darius White and Marcus Murphy) have all graduated. His top returning receiver – Sean Culkin – has 21 career receptions. Between the lack of receiving options, and Mauk’s already inconsistent play, there is some reason for concern when it comes to the Mizzou passing game.
Mauk’s 2015 projections are incredibly difficult to put together. Even if Mauk improves dramatically in comparison to his 2014 season, his overall numbers may look somewhat similar due to the new cast of characters lining up out wide. In order to take a look at what Mauk could be in 2015, lets take a look back at what Mizzou’s quarterbacks have done over the years.
2014 (Mauk): 221/414, 2648 yards, 25 TD, 13 INT
2013 (Franklin & Mauk): 267/454, 3540 yards, 31 TD, 8 INT
2012 (Franklin & Berkstresser): 228/414, 2614 yards, 15 TD, 14 INT
2011 (Franklin): 243/383, 3010 yards, 23 TD, 11 INT
2010 (Gabbert): 312/490, 3292 yards, 17 TD, 10 INT
2009 (Gabbert): 274/467, 3711 yards, 26 TD, 11 INT
We’ll stop with 2009, because Chase Daniel put up video game numbers at Mizzou. Over the past six years, the Missouri quarterbacks averaged a line of: 257/437 for 3135 passing yards, 23 TD’s & 11 INT’s.
If I had to guess right now, I would assume the Tigers will try to run the ball a bit more in 2015 in order to play more of a ball-control style offense. They did that at the end of the 2014 season, and did so with a lot of success.
Lets say Mauk attempts an average of 30 passes per game, and he completes right around 55% of his attempts (a 2 percent improvement from 2014). If those numbers bear out, it would mean Mauk finishes the year 214 for 390. Add in an average of 7 yards per attempt (the Mizzou QB average), and Mauk is up to 2,730 passing yards. I believe it’s fair to expect Mauk to finish right around MU quarterback season average in terms of touchdowns and interceptions.
If all of that bears out (it won’t), Mauk’s projected line would be… 214/390, 2,750 yards, 23 TD’s, 11 INT’s.