Facing one of the nation's top pass defenses with a backup quarterback, Missouri insisted its approach all week was a well-worn mantra around the program: We do what we do.
And that is exactly what Missouri did from the very first snap. Mizzou's first play from scrimmage, Maty Mauk looked to his left before the play. Given the look, he knew he would have the coverage he wanted on L'Damian Washington down the right sideline. Mauk lofted the pass and Washington hauled it in for 41 yards.
"It just goes to show a lot about the trust that coach Henson had in Maty Mauk," Washington said. "The first play, we went right at that corner and I think that showed a lot. Maty delivered a great ball and I know his confidence went up after that. That's what we needed."
"I knew L'Damian was going to beat him," Mauk said. "I threw it to him, he caught it and that took a lot of the stress off my back."
"I think more than anything, I felt like the offense needed to know that we weren't going to change anything," Josh Henson said. "I think it's probably human nature they're a little bit like everybody else saying, 'Really? Yeah, come on.' And I felt like that was a matchup that we had to do that several times this game to win this game."
The Tigers added 15 on a targeting penalty against Gatros' defensive back Cody Riggs. The next play was a perfectly thrown 22-yard pass to Bud Sasser. Just 22 seconds in, the Tigers led Florida 7-0 on the way to a dominating 36-17 win.
"We saw they were in man and Maty just made a great throw," Sasser said. "All I had to do was just come down with it."
Mauk threw for 295 yards. That was 131 more than the Gators had given up to any other quarterback this season and the most anyone has had since Georgia's Aaron Murray threw for 313 as a freshman in 2010.
"You guys saw him. We see that every day," Sasser said. "Especially when him and James (Franklin) were battling, we got to witness that first hand. It was just the fact of him coming out here and getting to prove it to everyone else."
"He's got ice water in his veins," Gary Pinkel said. "That's the toughest I've ever put a starting quarterback, setting the stage, that I've ever coached. I've never had a quarterback thrown into that environment against a great--not a good defensive football team--a great defensive football team."
Mauk was not perfect. He threw one first half interception and flirted with a few more. But the redshirt freshman put up 310 total offensive yards and accounted for two touchdowns in leading the Tigers to their seventh straight win to start the season.
"If you watched him play in high school, that's what he looked like," Pinkel said. "Almost every game. And the bigger the game, the better he played."
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