Florida Gators Football

SEC Football Q&A: Most Improved Player, Maty Mauk and Mississippi State

Florida QB Jeff Driskel
Florida QB Jeff DriskelKevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterApril 4, 2014

Every Friday, we feature questions from Twitter. Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee on Twitter at @BarrettSallee.

You have SEC questions, and I have SEC answers. Thank you for your questions. If I didn't get to them this week, they will be saved and used in the future.

And we're off! 

 

@BarrettSallee Who will be the most improved player in the SEC this year?

— Mitchell Tate (@Mitchell_Tate4) April 4, 2014

Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel.

I know, I know..."he's terrible, makes bad decisions and can't stretch the field."

Just stop.

Florida QB Jeff Driskel
Florida QB Jeff DriskelMike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Driskel has been a square peg in a round hole for his entire Florida career, and now with offensive coordinator Kurt Roper running the offense, he finally is in a system that suits his dual-threat capabilities.

According to GatorZone.com, Driskel has impressed Roper in the limited time the two have worked together.

"I didn't get to see him much before I got here,'' Roper said last week. "That's a big, powerful, fast-twitch, natural throwing motion. He is talented, folks. We're sitting here talking about a guy who is really, really gifted."

Gifted, with athletes around him. Demarcus Robinson has been impressing the staff this spring at wide receiver, Kelvin Taylor rushed for 508 yards in a part-time role last season when the Gators were incredibly one-dimensional and Matt Jones should join Taylor in the Gator backfield this fall once he returns to 100 percent.

Don't write Driskel off just yet. His best work is still ahead of him.

Florida QB Jeff Driskel
Florida QB Jeff DriskelStacy Revere/Getty Images

@BarrettSallee What's your overall opinion on Maty Mauk and how far can he take Mizzou?

— Nash Williams (@NashSports) April 4, 2014

Maty Mauk was a fantastic backup and a viable starter as a redshirt freshman, and this offseason will be all about taking the next step and becoming more efficient.

Missouri QB Maty Mauk
Missouri QB Maty MaukTim Sharp

There's no denying the upside Mauk has. He threw for 1,071 yards, 11 touchdowns and only two picks last season, averaging a whopping 8.1 yards per attempt in the process. But efficiency-wise, he wasn't where he needed to be. He completed just 51.1 percent of his passes (68-of-133), and that's not good enough if Missouri wants to repeat as SEC East champs.

If he can take that next step and become a more consistent passer, he absolutely has the skills and the talent around him to take Missouri back to Atlanta and the SEC Championship Game. If he doesn't take he next step, though, Missouri could drop a game or two that it shouldn't, and that could be the difference in the division title.

For Missouri, it will take consistent quarterback play and a defense that can get pressure with four and capitalize on mistakes to get back to Atlanta. Mauk can be that consistent quarterback, but he will have to progress as a passer.

Missouri QB Maty Mauk
Missouri QB Maty MaukRogelio V. Solis

@BarrettSallee I think Miss. St. has a chance to surprise some people. Would you agree? I'm an Aggie, but I like Dak Prescott.

— Jimmie Snyder (@labayouboy) April 4, 2014

I agree that Mississippi State will be pretty good. With 16 returning starters, the Bulldogs will be competitive.

And I've gone on record about quarterback Dak Prescott and what he brings to the table by going so far as to say that he's a dark horse Heisman candidate.

Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott
Mississippi State QB Dak PrescottMark Humphrey

With that said, the logical next step for Mississippi State isn't just a step, it's a gigantic leap forward.

I recently spoke with head coach Dan Mullen for a one-on-one that will run early next week, and he put that step into perspective better than anybody else could.

"In the last five seasons, six SEC West teams have competed for the national championship," he said. "A lot of times the next step is to build a consistent winner, and then let's go compete for a conference championship. In the SEC West, you skip that step. A conference championship is also a national championship here."

It's the truth. 

The next step for Mississippi State is to win the division and be a national power, and I'm not sure the Bulldogs are there from a roster perspective. Sure, they've got Prescott and a laundry list of returning starters, but is the depth there to make a true run? Not yet.

But I do think Mississippi State will be in more competitive games versus the big boys of the division this year, and could spring an upset or two along the way. 

Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen
Mississippi State head coach Dan MullenRogelio V. Solis

Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee on Twitter at @BarrettSallee

* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All recruiting rankings are courtesy of 247Sports, and all stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com.

 


Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices