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COLUMBIA, MO. (AP) - No. 14 Missouri got the SEC’s attention upsetting Georgia on the road. The Tigers will try to retain momentum without their most indispensable player.
Quarterback James Franklin is hurt again, out three to five weeks with a sprained right shoulder. Coach Gary Pinkel said Monday he’s confident redshirt freshman Maty Mauk can do the job in his first career start on Saturday at home against No. 22 Florida.
“Bottom line, it doesn’t matter. We’re wasting our time talking about it,” Pinkel said. He added, “How about them playing to a high level, every one of them?”
“I’m going to be busting my butt 100 percent and they know that,” Mauk said. “We’re going to have a good week of practice and we’re going to be ready.”
Franklin was injured in the fourth quarter of the upset at No. 7 Georgia, interrupting a very good senior comeback season, and showed up for media interviews with his right arm in a sling. He has 14 touchdown passes with three interceptions and is the third-leading rusher with 290 yards, a 4.5-yard average and three more TDs.
“It’s a good thing it’s a team sport,” Franklin said. “It stinks that I went down but we still have a lot of talent. I know that we can do it.”
Missouri had myriad injury problems last year, notably on the offensive line. That made the fill-in job a lot tougher for Corbin Berkstresser, who began this year No. 3 on the depth chart and will be Mauk’s backup.
“Last year, we got hit with a wrecking ball,” Mauk said. “This year, everyone’s healthy.”
“I don’t know, they’re going to have to determine that. I’m not supposed to (comment) and I shouldn’t. We have a process to go through and it’s a good process, and thorough.”
Pinkel said he won’t change the offense or condense the playbook for Mauk, who has played sparingly but can lean on high school stardom. He has encouraged Mauk, known best at Missouri for a scooter mishap that got him arrested, to just be himself.
“You don’t want him to be a robot out there,” Pinkel said. “You’ve got good people around you, just go play. He’s going to be nervous, he’ll do fine.”
Mauk broke national records for yards passing (18,932), touchdown passes (219), completions (1,353) and total offense (22,681), and was a Parade All-American and two-time Gatorade Ohio Player of the Year.
He’s been used sparingly, usually one series. He’s 5 for 6 for 41 yards, and got sacked twice in three plays against Toledo.
Senior cornerback E.J. Gaines, a key player on defense, is questionable this week with a strained left quadriceps. Freshman Aerion Penton and redshirt freshman John Gibson are backups on the depth chart at cornerback and both figure to see playing time this week.
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