"I love them," Mauk said. "There's nobody I'd rather trade them for. It's not, 'We don't have guys.' We have guys who can play football and that's what you've got to do."
Mauk's first opponent will be South Dakota State from the FCS-level Missouri Valley Football Conference. The Jackrabbits finished 9-5 overall and 5-3 in conference last season, yielding 382 yards per game, including 219.5 through the air.
The team is facing an FBS opponent for the seventh consecutive year, but is still searching for its first win against one since moving to Division I in 2004.
Missouri created a lot of "self-inflicted wounds" in its three scrimmages during fall camp, offensive coordinator Josh Henson said. Fixing those mistakes will be the point of emphasis this week.
For his part, Mauk says the Tigers can't afford to overlook anyone. The quarterback has become more demanding of his teammates to consistently improve while also becoming more accountable for himself, running back Marcus Murphy said.
"He expects to be a winner," quarterbacks coach Andy Hill said. "Having that mindset combined with the threat of being able to take off and run with the ball in his hands — that makes for a good combination. Hopefully he can complete more than 50 percent of his passes like he did last year."