Thoughts Of Spring: Quarterback

The Tigers QB situation this spring was settled before practices ever started. begins our Missouri Spring Football Position Reviews with a look at the QB position.

As expected, returning starter Maty Mauk spent the entire spring working with the first-team offense.

At one juncture this spring, when asked about his junior QB, Coach Pinkel replied, “He’s 14-4 as a starter. So, the last couple of years as the starter, he’s been pretty good.”

More than anything else, Spring Football is about getting better. And Coach Pinkel has frequently acknowledged this spring that Mauk has work to do to get better.

Heading into the spring, I wrote of the junior QB that, “Job one for the Missouri signal-caller this spring has to be getting on the same page and beginning to developing a good rapport with his young receivers.” I also wrote that Mauk’s “continued improvement will be a major focus this spring. Particularly, Mauk needs to become a more efficient passer.”

Well, I’d say that at the end of the spring, particularly the final week of Spring Football, Mauk and his receivers did begin to get on the same page, and did begin to show signs that they’re developing improved rapport. And, I do think Mauk showed continued improvement this spring, although with respect to results this spring, he was not more efficient. But he did seem to be more relaxed and sound in the pocket, and he did show improved pocket presence, and often times he did step up in the pocket.

Right away this spring, it was evident that Mauk had done some very good work in the off-season conditioning program that has him in the best shape of his career. He’s leaner, and he’s quicker on his feet.

Everyone, including Mauk himself, acknowledged at the end of the spring that there’s still a lot of room for improvement in the signal caller’s footwork, etc., and a lot of work to do, especially in developing rapport with a new receiving corps.

Sophomore Eddie Printz entered and emerged from the spring as Mauk’s primary back-up. Printz is improving as well. Particularly, he appeared to be more comfortable in the pocket this spring. Printz took almost all of the second-team reps. Occasionally, he took a few reps with the first-team offense. But he got in a lot of work as the signal-caller of the second unit. And, he was recognized by the coaching staff as Missouri’s Most-Improved QB this spring. It’s clear that the Missouri staff is invested in Printz as Mauk’s primary back-up.

It didn’t take long this spring for red-shirt freshman Marvin Zanders to move ahead of fifth-year senior Corbin Berkstresser on the Depth Chart. Zanders spent over half the spring as the clear number three QB. As the spring went along, Zanders took more and more of the third-team reps until at the end of the spring, he was taking almost all of them.

Zanders performed well this spring, well enough that I thought he might have been the Tigers most-improved at his position. Of course, Zanders brings speed and athleticism to the position that the Tigers haven’t had since Brad Smith. And, according to the head coach, he’s improving as a passer.

“(Zanders) is a great athlete,” said Coach Pinkel. “He’s improved his throwing tremendously. He’s got a lot of upside. It’ll be interesting to see how he matures as a quarterback. He’s a player who can probably play anywhere on the field.”

The other quality that Zanders demonstrated this spring is his field presence. When he’s out there at the QB position, he appears to be in command of his team and of the Missouri offense. He’s adept with the zone read option. He can make plays with his feet, and he showed that he can scramble and still complete passes while on the run.

“I think Marvin’s done a good job,” said Coach Pinkel. “I think he’s improving. He’s a tremendous athlete!

This spring, Berkstresser started out with the third team, but he was quickly relegated to splitting fourth-team reps with walk-on John Eierman.

Post-Spring QB Depth 7 Maty Mauk 6’0” 200 (J) 9 Eddie Printz 6’3” 215 (So) 1 Marvin Zanders 6’2” 185 (RSF) 13 Corbin Berkstresser 6’3” 225 (S) 12 John Eierman 6’0” 210 (RSF)

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