Missouri’s discipline was at a low point Saturday in a stunning 21-14 loss at Vanderbilt. Among the worst of the Tigers’ 12 penalties for 120 yards was Tyree Gillespie’s targeting violation in the third quarter, which resulted in an ejection and will cause the starting safety to miss the first half of next week’s game at Kentucky.
Gillespie led with his helmet during a late tackle into Vanderbilt quarterback Mo Hasan’s head.
“Yeah, it was targeting,” Missouri coach Barry Odom said. “He had left his feet, and the quarterback went into a slide. Gillespie had already gone into the position of trying to make a tackle, and he lowered his head at the last minute. And it appeared to me just like they called it.”
Perhaps Missouri’s most detrimental penalty was an after-the-play unsportsmanlike conduct call on backup defensive end Markell Utsey, which gave Vanderbilt 15 yards and put the Commodores into field goal position on what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
“One guy said something,” Odom said. “(Utsey) said something back. They flagged him. They usually get the second guy. That’s how it works. We’ve talked about that over and over and over. It doesn’t matter. Be in the moment of controlling your emotions, and we didn’t do that.”
The Tigers were flagged with two agonizing penalties on the final defensive drive, both offsides calls on defensive tackle Jordan Elliott. Those two calls equaled the amount of penalties Missouri had last Saturday against Ole Miss. The second offsides was the dagger; Elliott fell for a hard count on third-and-1 to give Vanderbilt a game-clinching first down. The Commodores ran out the clock.
Several Missouri players said postgame that a renewed focus on discipline will be needed to minimize these penalties.
“It’s as simple as staying onsides,” linebacker Nick Bolton said. “Jordan (Elliott), that’s my dude. I’m not going to bash him. That’s my dude. He came to me after the game and said that was on him. Self-accountability. Pass interference, extra hands. Extra after plays. All the personal fouls and stuff like that, we can’t have that going forward.”
Albert O returns after scary hit
Missouri tight end Albert Okwuegbunam went up for a pass and was sandwiched by two defenders, getting flipped over and landing hard on his upper body in the second quarter. Trainers looked at his left leg before he got up and walked off under his own power. The tight end missed just one series, though, and finished the game on the field.
Okwuegbunam finished with two catches and a touchdown.
Hasan brings ‘energy’ to Vanderbilt
Rather than start quarterback Riley Neal, who started the Commodores’ first six games under center, Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason went with redshirt junior Hasan. Hasan was fine, throwing for 120 yards and a touchdown, and rushing for 34 yards. But, Mason and running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn both praised the energy that Hasan brought.
“Kudos to Gerry (Gdowski, offensive coordinator), kudos to myself,” Mason said about the decision to start Hasan. “Maybe we’ll share a Dasani water later on this evening.”
Hasan was forced to leave the game after the hit from Gillespie. Mason said after the game that he believes Hasan is fine, but was removed as a precaution.