- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Maty Mauk was frustrated.

After losing 34-0 to Georgia - the only time the Missouri quarterback can ever remember being shut out - he hosted an hours-long meeting at his house with his receivers. The agenda: how to get back on track.

“It’s not about anybody else,” Mauk recalled telling them. “It’s about us. If we go out there and we’re executing, that’s what’s going to get our offense going. And that’s what we’ve got to do.”

Problems abounded last weekend. The offense only gained 147 yards on 43 plays. Mauk threw four interceptions and lost a fumble while being forced to often scramble out of a collapsing pocket. Receivers watched passes deflect off their hands and ran the wrong routes. Rushing attempts averaged just 2.3 yards.

“It’s not any one thing at any time,” offensive coordinator Josh Henson said. “It just seems like it’s been a combination of things. And it seems like they all kind of stacked up really badly on Saturday.”

Both Henson and coach Gary Pinkel hinted at simplifying the playbook as a way to improve execution. Missouri (4-2, 1-1) ranks last in the Southeastern Conference with 10.5 points per game and 213.5 total yards per game against league opponents.

It’s still early, though, and Pinkel insisted that Mauk is the starting quarterback moving forward.

“My biggest thing is for him to believe in himself, because he’s done it before,” Pinkel said of the sophomore, who led the country with 13 total touchdowns through three games (12 passing, one rushing) but has added just two more through the air along with five picks. “We’ve seen him do it on big stages. He’ll look back at this as an experience that really helped him.”

Not to say there aren’t some technical details Mauk needs work on. He can be elusive outside the pocket, but his scrambling makes it difficult to convert plays down the field. Henson said he hopes the quarterback trusts his offensive line to be there to protect him.

“He should have all the confidence in the world in us,” left tackle Mitch Morse said. “But if it’s lacking, I don’t blame him. If you (allow) too much pressure on a quarterback, no matter how good they are, it’s going to be in the back of their mind.”

After a day of reviewing Saturday’s loss and identifying mistakes, Pinkel hoped his team would get “amnesia” and forget about Georgia as it prepares for Florida (3-2, 2-2). The Tigers hope to recover on the road, where they have won seven consecutive games.

Missouri also expects to be healthy again at receiver with the return of Darius White, who missed the last two games with a strained groin. Pinkel said last week the senior was likely to play against the Bulldogs before trainers ruled him out.

White has 15 catches for 230 yards and three touchdowns, giving Mauk another experienced target. Without White on the field, opponents have limited seniors Bud Sasser and Jimmie Hunt to a combined 10 receptions for 129 yards.

A win this week would help Missouri keep pace in the SEC East standings and provide some positive “mojo,” as Sasser says, heading into the Oct. 25 matchup with last-place Vanderbilt.

In order to win either game, though, the Tigers must improve upon their average time of possession, which was 20 minutes in their last two games.

“It’s frustrating, but that’s adversity,” Mauk said. “It’s how you fight back. I think our guys are ready to go. Yeah, people are upset, but it’s going to be a different week for us. And we’re going to come out fighting.”


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