He’s coached the likes of Brad Smith, Chase Daniel, Blaine Gabbert and, most recently, James Franklin.
Each of those quarterbacks led Pinkel to winning seasons during their first years as starters, all four with 8-5 records.
Missouri sophomore Maty Mauk is the next in line. Through seven starts, Mauk has had the highest quarterback rating between the five.
He’ll look to test IU at 4 p.m. Saturday when the No. 18 Tigers (3-0) and Hoosiers (1-1) play in Columbia, Mo.
“Mauk’s the guy that’s going to be the big challenge,” IU Defensive Coordinator Brian Knorr said. “He’s the guy that really makes their offense go.”
Mauk has been one of the nation’s most efficient passers this year.
Among quarterbacks who have at least 50 pass attempts, he ranks 12th in passer ratings in the country at 176.57.
With 77 passes, he’s already thrown 12 touchdowns. He’s tied for the nation’s lead in touchdown passes despite throwing 100 fewer passes than the other two quarterbacks leading the country, Washington State’s Connor Halliday and Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty.
Last year against the Tigers, the Hoosiers gave up 343 yards through the air and another 280 on the ground.
Senior cornerback Kenny Mullen said IU is prepared for a mix of run and pass. The Hoosiers will look to make Missouri one-dimensional.
Mauk has been developing a reputation for being a bit of a gunslinger with a side-arm throwing motion. When he’s been flushed out of the pocket, he’s shown he isn’t afraid to force the issue throwing on the run between coverage.
When Mauk tries to create offense quickly, Mullen said the Hoosiers need to pounce and force turnovers, ?something IU wasn’t able to do often enough against Bowling Green.
“We know that they’re going to try and play a balanced game, run and pass,” Mullen said. “We really need to make him make the tough throws and on the back end we need to come up with plays.”
Mauk’s efficiency improves even more in the redzone, where he has a quarterback rating of 361.25. He’s seven-of-nine throwing with six touchdowns.
He has a trio of senior weapons — Bud Sasser, Darius White and Jimmie Hunt — who have accounted for 69 percent of Missouri’s receptions and have caught 11 touchdowns between them.
The IU secondary has taken heat for allowing 395 passing yards in IU’s loss to Bowling Green. Thirty critical yards on the Falcons’ game-winning drive came from pass interference penalties.
IU junior linebacker Nick Mangieri said IU will try to alleviate some of the pressure on the defensive backs by forcing Mauk to make quicker decisions.
“We’ve just got to contain him in the pocket,” Mangieri said. “He likes to get out of the pocket and, once he’s out of the pocket, you’ve just got to swarm to the ball and force him to throw it away.”
Linebackers and pass rushers like Mangieri, who had a sack, five tackles and an interception against Bowling Green, look to play a key role in disrupting Mauk’s timing and rhythm Saturday.
He said to expect more aggression out of the Hoosiers this week while trying to contain a Missouri offense that averages 41.7 points per game.
“It would be huge if we can go and get after the quarterback and make him make bad decisions by getting pressure.”
The Hoosiers have proven to have an offense that can keep up with the Tigers. Now, it’s the defense has to prove they can make key stops IU hasn’t been able to make.
“It’s a great opportunity to play against a good SEC team and make a statement,” Mangieri said.
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