COLUMBIA, Mo. — As much as Missouri coach Barry Odom wants to sympathize for his player who was ejected from Saturday’s game for targeting, he fully agreed with the penalty called on safety Tyree Gillespie at Vanderbilt.
Commodores quarterback Mo Hasan was sliding feet first at the end of a run when Gillespie lowered his head and drove the crown of his helmet into the side of Hasan’s helmet. Gillespie was ejected and will miss the first half of Saturday’s Kentucky game.
“He’s such a great kid and I hate the way … It didn’t look good. I’m not arguing that,” Odom said Tuesday. “It looked bad. We’ve talked all the time, defensively, when a quarterback goes into a slide, whatever your action is as a defender, you can’t touch the guy. (Gillespie) had already gotten into a position that he was sinking his hips to go in for the tackle. He was going to try a low tackle and in a bad lapse of judgment lowered his head at the last minute and made head to head contact. Obviously, (the penalty) was called. It should have been made.”
Hasan was wobbly trying to walk off the field and sat out the rest of the game.
Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said during Wednesday's SEC conference call that Hasan is in the team's concussion protocol. The Commodores have a bye this week.
Freshman Martez Manuel replaced Gillespie for the rest of the game Saturday and will start at Kentucky, Odom said. Gillespie, the team’s fourth-leading tackler, will be allowed to return for the second half.
Gillespie was not available for comment or during the team’s post-practice media session on Tuesday.
“He felt bad,” Odom said. “You go into the locker room afterwards and he’s sobbing uncontrollably because he knows he made a mistake. He didn’t mean to hit the guy in the fashion that took place. But (he) did. It was a bad mistake. And he’s obviously paying for it.”
Gillespie’s targeting foul was one of Mizzou’s 12 penalties for 120 yards Saturday. That’s tied for the second-most penalties in an SEC game this year and is the most yardage any SEC team has been penalized in one game this season.
For the season, Mizzou averages an SEC-high 71.3 penalty yards per game. Only Alabama averages more penalties per game, 7.6 to MU’s 7.3. MU ranks No. 112 nationally in average penalty yardage.
“We lost the ability to have emotional stability throughout the course of that game,” Odom said “We didn’t have it, and that’s something that obviously we correct, we fix. We can’t have that it and won’t stand for it moving forward. That’s not Missouri football. It doesn’t give us a chance to be successful.”
MCCANN OR CAN’T?
Odom isn’t happy with Tucker McCann’s recent kicking performances but isn’t worried either. McCann missed two field goals within his range on Saturday after missing two PATs the prior week against Ole Miss. For the season he’s made 11 of 16 field goals.
“We got to battle through it,” Odom said. “Tucker is going to find his way. He’s done a tremendous job punting. He’s done a great job in kickoffs. We’ve got to make sure that’s on our side.”
“Mentally he’s in a good spot,” he added. “He kicked really well today. I think we’re all right.”
MORE BORDER WAR, PLEASE
Missouri might not add Kansas to the football schedule any time soon, but Odom was happy to see the longtime rivals renew the men’s basketball series for six years, starting next season.
“Man, isn’t that awesome?,” Odom said. “The administration on both sides worked together to find a way to get that done. I think Missouri and Kansas should always play. I think they should play in every sport.”
“My sons, one’s a freshman and one’s an eighth grader, and I want them to be able to play Kansas,” he added. “I think it’s a big deal. I mean, you live in Missouri, that’s what you want. I’m sure you talk to the people over there, that’s what they want.”