TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Missouri entered Saturday’s game against Alabama without its two senior wide receivers, Emanuel Hall and Nate Brown.
Freshman Jalen Knox stepped up.
Knox was targeted six times and had three catches for 61 yards and a touchdown in the Tigers’ 39-10 loss.
“He’s a heck of a player,” coach Barry Odom said. “For a guy that didn't play receiver every snap in high school, he bounced around in a lot of positions, he’s got a natural feel for playing in the spot he is.”
Knox’s touchdown catch was on a 20-yard pass from Drew Lock that took at least eight seconds to develop. Missouri’s offensive line had no problem holding Alabama’s three-man rush at bay and Knox eventually got free of the defense in the back of the end zone.
That was Lock’s first touchdown pass since there were 7 minutes left in the second quarter of the Purdue game — a stretch that lasted 172 minutes of game time.
Knox was pressed into action because of groin injuries to Brown and Hall. Hall is also dealing with a family crisis, as his father Daton Hall died this week. Odom said the team learned about the death Thursday night. Odom said Emanuel Hall was back home with his mother for the weekend.
“We’re doing everything we can to provide him support in whatever role we can be for him and his family during this extremely tough time,” Odom said. “Timetable, I’m hands off on that deal other than the only thing I want to do is love the kid up and provide him support, treat him like he’s my own kid.”
Wide receiver Richaud Floyd dressed out and warmed up for the first time this season but did not appear in Saturday’s game. Floyd broke his right leg in August during fall camp.
MISSOURI MISSES BOTH HALLS: In addition to Emanuel Hall, Missouri also lost the services of linebacker Terez Hall in the second quarter. He was ejected due to a targeting penalty, which was not initially called after the play but was confirmed after further review.
The play in question was a hit on running back Damien Harris, who was wrapped up down low by Brandon Lee when Hall came through and put the crown of his helmet into the side of Harris’ helmet.
“That was a big hit for us on the defense,” middle linebacker Cale Garrett said. “A lot of people lean on him to be a more vocal leader, and he is. He’s a playmaker, too.”
Freshman Nick Bolton played the rest of the game in Hall’s place at weakside linebacker. Bolton finished with eight tackles, second-most on the team.
“I thought he was a little hesitant at first, but he got over that pretty quick,” Odom said. “I know he was assignment-sound because you go through the checks on the play series. After every one, you go through the errors that might have taken place. His name wasn’t coming up.”
BRING OUT THE PUNT UNIT: Midway through the third quarter, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa scrambled and slid just short of the line to gain on third down. The Crimson Tide sent out their punt team.
It wouldn’t have been notable, except that Alabama hadn’t punted since Sept. 22.
Punter Jaylen Waddle looked rusty. His punt bounced backwards and netted only 13 yards.
Missouri had the clear advantage at punter. Corey Fatony punted away it six times for an average of 43.7 yards.
TAGOVAILOA INJURED: Tagovailoa, the nation’s most efficient passer through Alabama’s first six games, did not have a night to remember Saturday.
On the scramble mentioned above, he appeared to tweak a knee sprain he initially suffered last week against Arkansas. Tagovailoa was helped off the field, spent a prolonged period in the medical tent and did not return to the game.
Tagovailoa entered with a 75 percent completion percentage on the season while averaging 249 passing yards per game. He finished Saturday’s game with the lowest completion percentage of his career but still a solid day: 12-of-22 passing for 265 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.