Missouri quarterback Kelly Bryant is questionable to play against No. 6 Georgia on the road this Saturday, MU coach Barry Odom said Tuesday. Bryant suffered a hamstring injury in the first quarter of Missouri’s 29-7 loss at Kentucky on Oct. 26. He didn’t leave the game until the third quarter.
“If we played today, he wouldn’t be out there,” Odom said. “We’ll take it day to day. I think he is a fast healer. I’ve learned that. I know he was anxious during practice today to do a lot more, so we kind of edged it on and had him do more than maybe I anticipated going into today. He’ll do more tomorrow, and then we’ll take it from there.”
Bryant said he’s “really not sure” yet if he’ll be able to play in Georgia. Asked to put a percentage to his health and mobility at this point, he said he’s at 75%.
“Just making sure that I’m not putting myself out there if I can’t go,” Bryant said. “But just continue to play it day by day.”
For comparison’s sake, Bryant had a separate injury scare on Oct. 5 when Missouri beat Troy, and on the Tuesday after that game, he said he was at 90% percent. He played the next Saturday against Ole Miss.
Bryant’s injury in Kentucky was pretty obvious; he grabbed his leg while running out of bounds at the end of a scramble on a rainy field. He has scrambled more frequently during Missouri’s two-game losing streak, pressured out of the pocket by a struggling offensive line. MU likes to give him designed runs, too.
“We’ve had six games where we’ve played really well on offense, and two where we didn’t,” offensive coordinator Derek Dooley said. “The biggest thing in the last game ... We had a real good drive going, and Kelly hurt himself. His legs are a part of our offense. It eliminated a lot of what we can do offensively. We kind of had to hone in on handing the ball off or drop-back.”
The Tigers are coming off their second bye week of the schedule now, which turned out to be good timing considering Bryant’s health. Odom said it has given the team a chance to give both Bryant and backup Taylor Powell practice reps; either one could be the quarterback for MU’s most challenging game of the season in Georgia. Reps between the two were pretty even at Tuesday’s practice.
“At any position, but especially that one (quarterback), you’ve got to make sure that there’s enough reps spread out,” Odom said. “The benefit for us is we had last week, and we got a ton of reps for Taylor in that situation, not knowing where we would get to. But also, Kelly’s got to get a lot of reps, too, because after I saw what he did today, he’ll be a lot better tomorrow.”
Powell entered for Missouri late in the third quarter against Kentucky and played the rest of the game. He led an impressive drive into the red zone in his first series, but it stalled when his fourth-and-2 pass was a little low for receiver Dominic Gicinto to handle in the rain. The Tigers didn’t score with Powell in the game.
That was a theme even before the backup entered, too, though. Missouri’s offense has been all but nonexistent during its two-game skid, combining for 21 points in the losses.
Bryant, who had thrown for 220-plus yards in the last four games, combined for 270 yards in the two defeats. He also clearly became more vulnerable with poor blocking: He was sacked three times by Vanderbilt and four times by Kentucky after MU hadn’t given up more than two in a game to that point in the season.
“It’s nothing out of the ordinary for us,” Bryant said. “Just play pitch and catch. Line up where we need to be and not hurt ourselves in the foot with penalties. Those have been the biggest things we’ve been communicating. We’re not going to let the last two weeks define who we are as a team, as an offense.”
Missouri kicks off at 6 p.m. Saturday in Athens, Georgia, at 6 p.m. Saturday.