QBs take center stage for Missouri, UCF
''If I throw an interception and I'm sitting there with my head down, people aren't going to want to be out there,'' Missouri's Maty Mauk said. ''So I try to stay as positive as I can and people go off of that.''
Mauk, a sophomore, ranks tied for first nationally with eight touchdown passes for the 20th-ranked Tigers (2-0), and threw five in last week's 49-24 win at Toledo. He also tossed two interceptions, and says he's been working on his decision-making ahead of the matchup with UCF (0-1).
With just six career starts, Mauk is still improving his field vision, quarterbacks coach Andy Hill said.
''I think the more we keep practicing the same plays over and over, that he'll get comfortable with what we're doing,'' Hill said. ''He's making better decisions; we just want consistent decisions all the way around.''
Quarterback Justin Holman will oppose Mauk for the Knights, who lost 26-24 to Penn State in Ireland on Aug. 30. The sophomore will be making his first career start after throwing for one touchdown and running for two more in relief of freshman Pete DiNovo.
Holman is hoping to emulate former Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles, whom he says was composed no matter the opponent.
''He was the same guy all the time,'' Holman said. ''That's what I took from him. Be the same guy and stay consistent, and the team will rally around you.''
Here are some things to know about the game:
HOLMAN'S COMPOSURE: Missouri owns the country's longest takeaway streak at 46 games, and if the Tigers are able to extend it, how will Holman respond? Offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe says there will be ''a fine line'' in deciding whether to pull Holman if he struggles. ''He needs to just be himself,'' coach George O'Leary said. ''The only pressure he's going to get is what he puts on himself.''
MAUK'S PASSES: Hill hopes to see Mauk use the whole field and find open receivers, regardless of how close to the line of scrimmage they may be. Mauk has been vocal about wanting to throw downfield, but last week's interceptions may affect his thinking this week. UCF intercepted two passes against Penn State, including one by cornerback Jacoby Glenn.
MISSOURI'S DEFENSIVE LINE: Ends Markus Golden and Shane Ray have picked up where they left off last season, combining for 8.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks through two games. ''They're explosive guys,'' coach Gary Pinkel said. ''They come off the corner. They create a lot of problems.'' Missouri ranked first in the Southeastern Conference last year with 41 sacks, while Central Florida finished second in the American Athletic Conference with only 22 sacks allowed.
MARCUS MURPHY: The versatile Missouri senior received his first career start at running back at Toledo and caught the second touchdown reception of his career, one week after returning a kickoff 100 yards against South Dakota State. Because of his speed, he has the potential to change the game any time he touches the ball. ''He's got the `it' factor,'' Pinkel said.
UCF VS. TOP 25: Central Florida went 2-1 against ranked teams a year ago, winning at Louisville and defeating Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl. The Knights also lost at home to South Carolina by a field goal. Despite losing Bortles to the NFL, the team returns plenty of experience and will not be fazed by playing an SEC school. ''They know how to win,'' Pinkel said. ''They've won at a high level.''