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Florida vs. Missouri: Malik Zaire to start at quarterback

Florida will start a left-handed quarterback for the first time since Tim Tebow.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida Gators redshirt senior Malik Zaire will start at quarterback as the Gators face Missouri on Saturday, the program announced Thursday.

"Malik is the starting quarterback for this upcoming game at Missouri," said Shannon. "This is his opportunity to get this team where it needs to be and not to be satisfied just because he's the starter.

"Today is an opportunity for him to run the offense and understand the expectations that we have for him. This is not a time for him to feel comfortable and feel like he's made it. We want him to keep grinding and understand that competition is very good."

Florida interim head coach Randy Shannon had announced that the Gators’ quarterback competition would be reopened in his initial press conference, and rumors of late have suggested that Jim McElwain’s departure from the program could very well lead to Zaire taking the reins over the last month of the season.

Shannon’s statement, however, certainly leaves plenty of room for Florida to switch back to redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks — who has started all but one game this fall — to reclaim the starter’s role.

Zaire has played sparingly for Florida this season after transferring to the program this summer following more than half a year of speculation about his future sparked by his initial decision to transfer away from Notre Dame. In two appearances in relief against Michigan and Georgia, Zaire has completed just 12 of 23 passes for 142 yards, and has just one net rushing yard on 10 carries with sacks included.

But Zaire did lead Florida to a touchdown late against Georgia, and his mobility is an asset that Florida has yet to fully unlock on the field.