University of Missouri

Mizzou’s Odom on Bryant’s injury: ‘If we played today, he wouldn’t be out there’

All eyes have been on the Missouri quarterback Kelly Bryant’s injury status since he left the Tigers’ last game because of a strained hamstring. Whether he plays at Georgia on Saturday is still up in the air, according to MU coach Barry Odom.

“If he played today, he wouldn’t be out there,” Odom said at his weekly press conference Tuesday. “We’ll take it day to day.”

Bryant said he was at around 75%. Odom added that Bryant wanted to push it a little further in practice.

“Need a little bit more time,” Bryant said, “just gotta see (on the injury).”

Odom pointed out how Bryant is a “fast healer,” as seen in other instances earlier this season. Bryant didn’t play the second half of the Troy win because of a knee injury, but played against Ole Miss the week after. During training camp, Bryant also hurt his other hamstring.

“He was anxious during practice (Tuesday) to do a lot more,” Odom said. “We’ve kind of edged it on and had him do maybe more than I anticipated going into today. He’ll do more (Wednesday) and we’ll take it from there.”

Backup quarterback Taylor Powell eventually relieved Bryant in the third quarter of the loss against the Wildcats. Odom said it’s a balancing act in terms of practice for Bryant and Powell. Reps with the first-string offense need to be evened out so both are ready on Saturday, depending on Bryant’s health.

“The benefit for us is (during the bye) we got a ton of reps for Taylor in that situation,” Odom said. “But also Kelly’s gotta get a number of reps too.”

In limited action relieving Bryant at Kentucky, Powell went 4 for 10 for 34 yards. He moved the ball well in a 12-play, 62-yard drive before a turnover on downs. Powell also played extensively against Troy when Bryant went down, going 6 of 8 for 57 yards passing.

Odom reaffirmed his confidence in the backup on Tuesday, praising his readiness whenever he was pushed into game action. Should Powell start against No. 6 Georgia on Saturday, he said he’ll be ready for the challenge.

“I don’t think preparation changes,” Powell said. “I do the same preparation every week. Just keep it systematic. If you go in, you do your thing. I feel very confident.”

Finishing strong

Odom’s teams have all finished on the upswing, including a 10-2 clip in November. His team hasn’t lost a game in the final month of the regular season since Nov. 19, 2016, Odom’s first season.

The third-year coach said he still takes a strong game-by-game approach, instead of solely focusing on the last month.

“For us, the ability to try to control the things that we do, our attitude, our preparation, our execution,” Odom said. “Then you focus on the small and make sure those habits align. Then we have to go execute.”

Linebacker shift

The only major change on the Mizzou depth chart was at middle linebacker, where it listed Devin Nicholson or Cameron Wilkins as the starter. Nicholson, a freshman, started against Kentucky. The change shifted Jamal Brooks, who was the co-starter at middle linebacker, to backup at weakside linebacker behind starter Nick Bolton.

Odom said the middle linebacker position will likely be rotated among Nicholson, Wilkins and Brooks.

At right tackle, Larry Borom is now listed as the sole starter. It was previously Borom or Hyrin White as co-starters on the depth chart.

Walk-on trophy

Dawson Downing, from Bishop Miege, is a Burlsworth Trophy nominee. The award goes to the nation’s best player who started off as a walk-on.

Downing’s gone from walk-on to scholarship player, scoring his first career touchdown against Ole Miss this season.

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