Behind Franklin, Missouri has reliable Mauk

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 3, 2013 at 2:31 am •  Published: December 3, 2013

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — James Franklin got the better of Johnny Football while helping No. 5 Missouri reach the SEC championship game. He's having an outstanding senior season, going 8-0 as the starting quarterback for one of the nation's best offenses.

And if the Tigers are forced to go without Franklin for any part of Saturday's game against third-ranked Auburn, they can always turn to Maty Mauk.

"Having a backup quarterback for one-third of your season that's a redshirt freshman and coming out 3-1, almost 4-0, it's pretty remarkable," coach Gary Pinkel said Monday. "We were very, very fortunate."

No way Missouri makes it this far without the backup who's returned to making cameo appearances and likely will get one series early in the second quarter on Saturday against Auburn (11-1, 7-1).

Mauk finished the job at Georgia after Franklin was sidelined with a shoulder injury. The redshirt freshman entered with the Tigers clinging to precarious two-point lead in the fourth quarter and led the way to a 15-point triumph that was the school's first road win over a top-10 team since 1981.

Mauk was 3-1 as the stand-in starter, an extended opportunity that can only help down the road.

"James is a little bit more reserved and has more of a calming presence and Maty has a little bit of a crazed look in his eye and intensity that I can very much identify with," offensive guard Max Copeland said. "I love playing for both of them."

Mauk threw five touchdown passes in a victory over Kentucky, and did his part in wins over No. 22 Florida and Tennessee. The lone loss was in overtime at home against No. 20 South Carolina when kicker Andrew Baggett hit the upright on a 24-yard field goal.

Franklin will be making his third straight start this week after helping clinch the SEC East in a 28-21 victory over Texas A&M and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel on Saturday night. Missouri (11-1, 7-1) had a slow start offensively, trailing 14-7 at the half, but Franklin ended up with two touchdown passes and no interceptions to go with a season-best 80 yards rushing on 18 carries.

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