Just a day after seeming doubtful Kelly Bryant would play Saturday at Georgia, Missouri Tigers coach Barry Odom said Bryant is smoothing out his potential return to the field.
“I think Kelly’s on track to play and I think he’ll play well,” Odom said Wednesday during the weekly SEC coaches teleconference. “Taylor (Powell) understands he’s going to prepare like he has every other week and put us in a position where if his number is called, we can go execute the offense and do the things that we need to play efficiently.”
As of Tuesday, it seemed unlikely Bryant was going to play because of the hamstring he strained during the loss to Kentucky. Bryant said at the time he was at about 75% in terms of his health.
However, after taking the “majority of snaps” with the first-string offense at Wednesday’s practice, it appears likely that Bryant’s ready to go. If Bryant starts, it’ll bolster a Mizzou offense looking for a spark after combining for just 21 points in the last two games. His presence should help facing a team like Georgia, the Bulldogs allowing just 11.4 points per game, tied for fourth in the nation.
Any chance of linebacker Cale Garrett coming back this year, though, can be put to rest. There was a sliver of hope when the senior was initially deemed out indefinitely after getting surgery on his pectoral tendon following the win against Troy.
“Guys understand he’s not coming back,” Odom said of Garrett. “You never can control the injuries, obviously. But it was a tough blow for our team. But also, we understand that’s part of it. The next guys gotta continue to perform and play well. The 10 guys around him need to up his game.”
Odom has slotted in multiple players at middle linebacker in Garrett’s void. The rotation began with a mix of Cameron Wilkins and Jamal Brooks. However, a recent addition has been freshman Devin Nicholson, who started at Kentucky. Who starts at Georgia is still uncertain. Whoever it is, though, will play next to weakside linebacker Nick Bolton, who has stepped up on the field and in his production.
“Collectively, everybody on defense has to play a little bit better,” Odom said. “The linebackers, led by Nick Bolton, have played a little bit better each week since (Garrett’s) absence. And on the other side, the guys we have rotated in there, they’ve showed improvement. We’ll be tested there a great deal this week.”