When Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant was declared ineligible by the NCAA last week, Missouri defensive tackle Jaron Baston wasn’t relieved to have pressure taken off the Tigers defense when the two teams meet next Saturday 17 at Oklahoma State.
“That’s sad,” Baston said. “That’s a great football player. I wish he was out there to play with us. He hit us pretty hard last year, and it would have been nice to play against him this year.”
Bryant was named a preseason All-America wide receiver by multiple media outlets. He had four touchdown catches this season before being declared ineligible. He had seven catches for 47 yards when Oklahoma State beat Missouri 28-23 last season at Memorial Stadium. He is ineligible for Saturday’s game unless Oklahoma State's appeal for his reinstatement is successful. He was not listed on the Cowboys’ depth chart that was released Sunday.
“Dez was the guy that killed us last year,” Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said.
Baston noticed Bryant’s joy as Oklahoma State came back to win last season’s game. Baston said nothing Bryant said was malicious, but he remembers things Bryant said as the game ended.
“He’s just a competitor,” Baston said. “Everybody says stuff. But I’m saying when you're winning a game and you lose it in the fourth quarter, their best player just comes over. And he says stuff, and he’s all hyped and in your face and blah, blah, blah, it just kind of touches you. But at the end of the day, it’s not about him. It’s not about any personal battles.”
Without Bryant, the Cowboys beat Texas A&M 36-31 Saturday.
“They still have a lot of playmakers on offense that can make plays,” Missouri cornerback Carl Gettis said. “It’ll affect them, but they still have a great offense.”
Cowboys quarterback Zac Robinson had 279 yards passing in the win.
“You can’t replace a receiver like Dez Bryant,” Baston said. “No matter how hard you try. But it’s so late in the season, I don’t think they’re going to try to change too much. I think they’re going to just line up and be a confident offense and a confident team. And that’s what they should be, they’re a great team.”
The Missouri defense is coming off a 27-12 loss to Nebraska in which it gave up 27 points in the fourth quarter. Because the game was on a Thursday night instead of a Saturday, Missouri has extra time to prepare for the Cowboys.
“It’ll be nice,” Gettis said. “We get a chance to prepare for them a little bit better, get a chance to watch a little bit more film. And we’ll bounce back from it.”
Baston said he won’t focus much on any empathy he feels for Bryant for being ineligible, because he’s focused on preparing for Saturday’s game.
“I’m kind of upset what happened with him,” he said. “But I have no control, I don’t know anybody who has control over that situation. But we’ve just got to go out and focus on Oklahoma State.”