It may be the most peculiar aspect of the Missouri football team.

While some college programs opt to play as many as four linebackers consistently, the Tigers plan to utilize just two for most defensive schemes in a move reflecting personnel.

Senior Cale Garrett, co-captain of the Tigers, entered fall camp with one spot locked down as a returning starter, and with Terez Hall departing for the NFL, sophomore Nick Bolton stepped up and has been slated as Missouri’s other starting linebacker.

Bolton got playing time in all 13 games as a true freshman but made his proper debut at linebacker against Alabama last October.

After Hall was ejected for targeting against the Crimson Tide early in the second quarter, Bolton assumed his spot and posted a season-best eight tackles.

Fast forward to now, Bolton is permanently installed next to Garrett and will use his experience from this spring and fall camp in his first Missouri start Saturday against Wyoming.

“(Bolton) has got a chance to be a really good player,” Missouri head coach Barry Odom said. “And he's got a guy lined up next to him (that’s) one of the best linebackers in college football in Cale Garrett. The way (Garrett) approaches his work every day, the way he leads, the way he plays, the way he backs up everything he talks about.

"Those two together, they play off of each other well, a lot like Cale and Terez did last year.”

Garrett holds a leadership role not only in his position group or for the defense. He’s spending his last year with the Tigers as a captain for a reason.

Garrett knows at every turn, there are eyes on him, and he has spent time reflecting on what that means.

“If you're not genuine, what are you doing? You’re wasting your time,” Garrett said. “It takes more energy to fake it, for one, and for two, people see right through it eventually. And if they don't, then they are not the right type of people that you should be leading. I think it’s a lot easier to be genuine and be comfortable in your own skin because after a while you get too tired to do anything else.”

The Tigers have responded in kind, going to Garrett for advice. And there may not be a game this season that fits Garrett’s strengths more than the trip to Laramie, Wyoming.

The linebacker has taken hikes at Mount Evans in Colorado, the Grand Canyon in Arizona and a few other destinations that make him comfortable well above sea level.

Missouri’s game at Wyoming’s War Memorial Stadium will be at the highest elevation for an FBS venue. It’s more than 6,000 feet above the altitude of Columbia’s Faurot Field.

“I talk to him a lot about elevation and stuff like that,” Bolton said of his conversations with Garrett. “He’s done many trips, hikes. ... He’s told me to drink beet juice, make sure I have a bunch of water, get a little extra conditioning in.”

Bolton and the rest of the Tigers have been drinking beet juice for the past two weeks on the advice of Washington State head coach Mike Leach, whose Cougars played in Laramie last season.

“It doesn’t taste very good at all,” Bolton said.

But anything to win, right? Bolton said he’s been drinking it with Gatorade to make the taste a tiny bit more bearable. The health effects are supposed to make your lungs more suited for the atmosphere.

“They had success with it, so hopefully we do, too,” Missouri defensive coordinator Ryan Walters said of the tip from Leach.

Walters played college football at Colorado. Laramie is only 130 miles from Boulder, the home of the Buffaloes.

With experience playing in high altitude, Walters said focusing on the difference in elevation is “overrated.”

“If you’re a long-distance runner or something like that, it probably affects you a little more,” Walters said.

For Missouri’s linebackers, those quick sprints don’t compare to several-mile jogs.

“We can’t fly into the mountains and train. ... We can’t just take our team and go train in the altitude for a week,” Missouri offensive coordinator Derek Dooley said. “But there are things you can do hydrating-wise, taking care of your body and just recognizing probably in pregame, you're going to breathe a little bit. It's just wind and then we’ll be fine. It's only a problem if you make it a problem.”

Limiting problems caused by the Wyoming offense is one of the primary tasks Garrett and Bolton will be faced with in Missouri’s 2019 opener.

Bolton admits being a starter feels completely different with the rise in expectations every day. The former Washington commit is embracing the role, however.

Along with Garrett and Bolton, linebacker Aubrey Miller Jr. is expected to see the field for several snaps against Wyoming.

“It gives me a bunch of confidence; we all push each other. I know Aubrey’s been pushing me since spring to get better,” Bolton said.

Bolton said he won’t be doing anything out of the ordinary for the season opener. But it’s a chance for Garrett and Bolton to shine in the Tigers’ new defensive scheme.

“We've got a lot of comedians in that locker room,” Bolton said of the linebackers. “When it comes to work, we’re all communicating, talking how to fix things maybe we didn't do good in practice.

“It’s a good learning environment, but there's also jokes here and there as well.”