UF quarterback Malik Zaire had to wait longer than expected, but he now will get his turn to lead the Gators’ offense.

Interim coach Randy Shannon announced Thursday Zaire will make his first start for UF on Saturday when the reeling Gators (3-4, 3-3 SEC) visit Missouri (3-5, 0-4).

"This is his opportunity to get this team where it needs to be and not to be satisfied just because he's the starter,” Shannon said in a statement. "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."

Zaire will replace redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks, who averaged fewer than 100 passing yards and managed just one touchdown pass during the team’s three-game losing streak. Zaire will be the Gators’ 11th starting quarterback since 2009, Tim Tebow’s final season at UF.

Zaire replaced Franks during the fourth quarter of last Saturday’s 42-7 loss to Georgia and helped prevent a shutout with a late touchdown drive. During the series, the 6-foot, 225-pound Zaire showcased his dual-threat ability, completing 3 of 4 throws for 36 yards and picking up 27 yards on a run.