Kelly Bryant was given a leg brace at the start of Tuesday’s practice. Before long, he took it off and tossed it aside.
“He didn’t need it,” said center Trystan Colon-Castillo.
It was as good an indicator as any to reaffirm what teammates were saying as early as Saturday night, before they actually knew: Missouri’s quarterback is fine.
Bryant said after Tuesday’s practice that he is about “90%” health wise and will play in MU’s Homecoming game Saturday against Ole Miss (3-3, 2-1 Southeastern Conference). The Tigers can officially breathe a sigh of relief after last week’s scare, when Bryant was dragged down by a late hit in the first half against Troy. He was holding his knee on the turf after the play and spent the rest of the game in the locker room.
“I wouldn’t classify it as a dirty hit, it’s just football,” Bryant said of the tackle that sprained his knee. “I felt that pop. You try not to think about the worst. I just said a little quick prayer when I was lying down, but looking at it, it could have been way worse, so I’m just thankful that it wasn’t anything major.”
The moment he started to believe everything would be OK, Bryant said, was when his knee felt fine walking to the locker room after the play. He got an MRI and knee sprain diagnosis about an hour after the game.
“Easily could have torn my whole knee and everything, fibula,” Bryant said. “That’s just a blessing.”
Bryant practiced Tuesday without a red no-contact jersey. MU coach Barry Odom said the graduate transfer played well in practice, and he echoed Bryant in saying he expects his starting quarterback to play against Ole Miss. Offensive coordinator Derek Dooley said that if you didn’t know about the injury and watched Tuesday’s practice, you wouldn’t know anything was ever wrong.
“He looks like Kelly Bryant,” Dooley said. “We’re just really grateful he’s back out here and he looks like himself.”
Bryant has never played in a leg brace before, but he will for the first time Saturday. The brace he was given Tuesday was temporary, and Bryant found it uncomfortable after a few reps. He’ll have a nicer one for the game.
“I’ve just been testing out the brace, seeing how I move in it,” he said. “I’ve got to get acclimated. It’s very new to me.”
If Bryant has trouble in the brace or if anything in his knee feels off Saturday, the quarterback feels confident after last week that he’s well covered by Taylor Powell. The redshirt sophomore filled in for Bryant in the second half against Troy, completing 6-of-8 passes for 57 yards. The Tigers were minimalistic in their play-calling while trying to hold on to a big lead, but Powell served the role well.
“I thought he was efficient,” Odom said. “It’s a tough situation to be in on how you call it, because you want to see him be able to do a little bit more. I thought we handled it well, and as far as executing the calls, I thought he did a nice job.”
“He did a really great job coming in and playing really smart football,” Bryant said, “not putting the ball at risk or anything. Taking what’s there.”
Saturday served as a reminder that MU is one play away from Powell at quarterback. But for now, the Tigers are just happy to have Bryant back.