COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Walking to practice one day this spring, Maty Mauk let his mind wander.
The Missouri quarterback thought about the "little things" that have changed in the first few practices of his second season playing with the Tigers, such as throwing a pass before a receiver cuts across the field, rather than after.
"The speed of the game went way down for me and now I can just go out there and be me," Mauk said.
Even if he wasn't quite himself last fall, Mauk impressed nearly everyone during his freshman season. He started four games and played in parts of others, helping Missouri finish 12-2 and capture the SEC East.
The 6-foot, 200-pound native of Kenton, Ohio, now sits atop the depth chart, though coach Gary Pinkel has not named him the starter over junior Corbin Berkstresser and freshmen Eddie Printz and Trent Hosick. If Pinkel is hoping to motivate Mauk, he appears to be accomplishing his goal.
"I'm approaching it like I'm No. 5," Mauk said. "I'm going to bust my butt every second of every day until I am at the top. I'm going to compete every day. I'm going to bring 110 percent so everybody's got to be ready."
Offensive coordinator Josh Henson says coaches dialed down the playbook last year for Mauk, who completed 51.1 percent of his passes for 1,071 yards and 11 touchdowns in relief of James Franklin.
Mauk completed 14 of 23 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown in last Saturday's scrimmage, but left frustrated because of a sack resulting from waiting too long to throw a pass.
"There's a few things that we didn't do with Maty that we did with James," Henson said. "I think now, he's really comfortable with everything. He's going to pick stuff up, and I think our offense will grow with him if he is indeed the guy."
Mauk has grown off the field, too, at least in terms of facial hair. He currently sports a red beard after consulting with center Evan Boehm about whether various members of the offense should grow mullets and beards.