Missouri head football coach Gary Pinkel has suspended starting quarterback Maty Mauk and junior offensive lineman Malik Cuellar for this Saturday’s game against South Carolina for disciplinary reasons related to violation of team policies. That’s all the athletic department will say and the player’s status will be determined after this game. What this does is open the door for Pinkel to make a quarterback change without creating outside controversy or inter-team turmoil.
Pinkel, first and foremost, is a football coach. His number one job is to win football games and that’s ultimately how he is judged. We don’t know if Pinkel thinks the offensive struggles are solely on the quarterback’s shoulders? Or if he’s even happy with Mauk’s play?
What we do know is there is no way Pinkel can make a change at QB replacing a kid who is 17-5 as a starter, led the team to an SEC East championship, and a bowl victory, just because the offense is struggling on many different levels. You can’t just flip flop quarterbacks every time there adversity on the field. Pinkel doesn’t do that and I applaud him for not being quick to switch.
Watch my video and I explain why creating a QB controversy could hurt the team not just this season, but down the road.
It’s one of the reasons why Mizzou has been consistently successful under Pinkel. Look at this week’s opponent–South Carolina–and Steve Spurrier for example. Year after year it seems like there is a QB carousel/controversy and year after year, they fail at making a run a serious run at an SEC championship. Spurrier fails at recruiting good quarterbacks.
Back to Mizzou. The suspension allows Pinkel to evaluate Lock and give a closer look at the true freshman. If Lock plays lights out, Pinkel can say Mauk is reinstated but they’re going with the hot hand and not many can argue that reasoning. If Lock looks no better than Mauk, then Pinkel can come out after the game or next Monday and say Mauk’s suspension has been lifted, he met disciplinary standards and will start against Florida. If Lock’s results are mixed, but promising, Pinkel can keep the suspension in place, allowing a second start for Lock.
I’m not saying Pinkel intentionally suspended Mauk. We just don’t know why, but now Pinkel can control the situation while getting a better and deeper assessment of his backup quarterback.