Containing Missouri’s Mauk a big challenge for Georgia’s D

Georgia got a glimpse of what Maty Mauk could do when the Missouri quarterback came on in relief of James Franklin in the fourth quarter last year and led the Tigers to victory between the hedges in Athens.

A year later, Mauk is now the main man at quarterback for the Tigers, and he’s still getting it done in the fourth quarter. That was evident two weeks ago in Missouri’s last outing when he helped lead the Tigers on a pair of fourth-quarter scoring drives for a come-from-behind 21-20 win at South Carolina.

“Very talented,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “He’s got arm talent, a very strong arm. He can absolutely make any throw they’re asking him to throw. But very athletic.” Mauk’s numbers won’t blow anybody away. He’s averaging 222 yards a game on 56 percent passing but has been good for 14 touchdowns with just four interceptions. Meanwhile, he has rushed for 124 yards and one touchdown.

Mauk is extremely mobile and is at his best when he gets out of the pocket.

“A big time challenge,” Georgia linebacker Amarlo Herrera said of defending the 6-foot, 195-pound sophomore. “You’ve got to worry about the run, you’ve got to worry about the pass, you’ve got to worry about him breaking tackles. He can break the pocket and come back around and complete the pass. Those legs are a problem.”

Mauk demonstrated his versatility at Sanford Stadium this time last year. With the Tigers clinging to a two-point lead in the fourth quarterback, Mauk rushed in off the bench and ran for a first down off a quarterback draw on third-and-six. Two plays later, the Tigers ran a double-pass trick play for a touchdown and they eventually rolled out of Athens with an impressive 41-26 victory.

Coach Gary Pinkel credits that victory for spring-boarding Missouri to an SEC East championship in only its second year in the league.

Keeping Mauk hemmed up in the pocket and limited from freelance football will be a key for Georgia winning Saturday’s game.

“You’ve just got to focus on the details and make them do things they don’t want to do,” Herrera said. “You’ve got to stay in your rushing lanes and don’t get out of them.”

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