NCAA Football: Florida at Missouri

Florida quarterback Graham Mertz suffered a non-displaced collarbone fracture during the team's 33-31 loss at Missouri on Saturday night, coach Billy Napier said. Mertz suffered the injury in the third quarter while scrambling for an 11-yard gain on third-and-5 with the Gators trailing 23-21.

Napier called the injury "significant," and it could sideline Mertz for the remainder of the 2023 season. 

"He'll be out for a little bit," Napier said. "Probably, we'll have more information whether it's surgical or not. I think right now the belief is that it may not be. We'll need to get more images before we make that decision."

The injury sets up a rivalry clash between Florida and Florida State next week that will likely feature two backup quarterbacks making their first starts of the season. FSU star Jordan Travis left Saturday's win over North Alabama in the first quarter with a leg injury. Though Seminoles coach Mike Norvell did not provide an update on Travis after the game, the injury required Travis to be carted off the field, casting his status for next week (and the postseason) into obvious jeopardy.

Florida will likely rely on redshirt freshman Max Brown, who performed admirably in relief of Mertz as the Gators scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to position themselves for a potential upset. Ultimately, Mizzou staged a late drive to win the game on a field goal with seven seconds remaining. Brown is a former three-star prospect who'd thrown just seven college passes before entering against Missouri.

Florida State is likely to ride with redshirt junior Tate Rodemaker, who also performed well given the circumstances with 217 yards passing and two touchdowns against North Alabama. 

Mertz, a redshirt junior, still has one season of eligibility remaining that he could use after he transferred from Wisconsin over the offseason and reignited his career with the Gators. Including his statistics from the Missouri loss, Mertz will finish the season 261 of 358 (72.9%) passing for 2,903 yards with 20 touchdowns and just three interceptions.

The Gators need to beat Florida State to avoid a third consecutive losing season. Florida State will need a win to keep its College Football Playoff hopes on track; however, it has already locked up its spot in the ACC Championship Game vs. Louisville.