Malik Zaire’s first start at UF ended on the bench while the quarterback he replaced led the Gators to a meaningless score.

Despite redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks’ success during the waning moments of Saturday’s 45-16 loss at Missouri, Zaire still believes he earned another shot to lead the Gators.

“I feel like I give the team the best chance, but I feel like if you don't feel like that you shouldn't even be in the game,” Zaire said. “I want to help this team get to a bowl game. I want to help this team finish on a positive note.”

Other than an ill-advised interception into double coverage with UF trailing 21-3, Zaire showed better poise and decision-making than Franks had during previous games.

Zaire, a 22-year-old graduate transfer from Notre Dame, attacked downfield and found receivers in the middle of the field, something Franks has struggled to do all season. A holding call by left tackle Martez Ivey wiped out a 40-yard touchdown from Zaire to receiver Tyrie Cleveland as perfect as any pass thrown by a UF QB since Frank’s Hail Mary against Tennessee.

Zaire finished the day 13-of-19 passing for 158 yards, an interception. He also ran for 17 yards and took just one sack against a talented Missouri pass rush. Meanwhile, Franks suffered 15 sacks the past three games.