Emotions were running high inside the Missouri locker room following their disappointing 19-15 loss to Vanderbilt, Saturday night at Faurot Field. Sources confirmed defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson addressed his teammates which included him yelling, “We are better than this,” which was followed by pounding on a table. Moments later, head coach Gary Pinkel entered the interview room adjacent to the locker room.
The players are “Angry, frustrated, disappointed and they should be. This is not the fun part, but how we handle this is the most important thing. We’re not going to feel sorry for ourselves.”
AUDIO Gary Pinkel postgame (8:30)
The injuries continue to mount and so do the errors that come from players who lack live game experience. Quarterback James Franklin, who led the Tigers to two field goals on their first two possessions, left the game with an MCL strain and Pinkel has ruled him out for the Alabama game. Running back Marcus Murphy has a fractured finger and center Mitch Morse has an MCL strain and is most likely out the next game as well. Left tackle Elvis Fisher gave it a go, but limped off the field multiple times as well.
Redshirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser was pressed into a difficult situation as he entered the game with a 6-0 lead. Franklin was injured on a 22 yard scramble that set up Andrew Baggett’s second field goal of the night. On his first possession, Berkstresser fumbled a snap on third and short giving Vandy the ball at Mizzou’s 34. They were forced to pooch punt down to the Mizzou two. After three unsuccessful play, punter Trey Barrow was backed up on his end line, and had the snap go through his hands for a safety.
Berkstresser finished the night 9 of 30 for 189 yards with an 85 yard touchdown that closed the Tigers to within a point.
Early in the fourth quarter, moans grew from the Faurot Field crowd of just over 66,000 when Berkstresser was dropped on an 11 yard sack back to the Mizzou 15. On the next play, Berkstresser found Bud Sasser open at the 40 and he raced down the sideline for an 85 yard touchdown. It was the longest touchdown pass for Mizzou since a 94 yarder against Ohio State in 1976. With a chance to tie on an extra point, the snap back to T.J. Moe bounced in and he was unable to handle it. His desperation pass fell incomplete and the Tiger were down 16-15.
The Mizzou defense looked a little worn down as Sheldon Richardson just missed getting to quarterback Jordan Rodgers who threw a jump ball to Chris Boyd who pulled in the 40 yard completion, giving Vandy a first and goal from the Mizzou nine. The Tigers held them to a field goal that made the score 19-15 with 7:20 to play. The Tigers had a chance for the go-ahead score late in the game, but couldn’t convert on a 4th and 10 late, turning the ball over on downs allowing Vandy to run out the clock.
Mizzou outgained Vandy 395-295, but a fumbled snap, a botched punt and PAT either left points off the board or added them in favor of Vandy.
Mizzou looked to establish the run on their opening drive and reeled off a 22 yard run by Kendial Lawrence and 25 yard gain from Marcus Murphy, leading to a 31 yard field goal by Andrew Baggett that gave the Tigers an early 3-0 lead. The Tigers drove 62 yards on their second possession and had to settle for another Baggett field goal as he hit from 28 yards out to put Mizzou up 6-0. Franklin rattled off a 23 yard run that set the Tigers up at Vandy’s 13, the play that we believe Franklin was injured on.
The story for most of the game was Mizzou’s defense. While the offense sputtered with Berkstresser, the defense didn’t allow a first down by the Vandy offense until a 29 yard pass with just under seven minutes to play in the first half. Vandy then took advantage of a leaping penalty on Sheldon Richardson during a punt block. The 15 yard penalty gave Vandy a short field to work with and they later converted on a five yard run by Zac Stacy putting them up 9-6 with 3:47 to play in the first half.
The teams combined for 257 yards of offense and they were just 3 of 18 on third down conversions. Berkstresser was 4 of 14 for 29 yards in the first half.
After the teams traded punts for most of the third quarter, the Tigers put together their longest drive of the season, going 88 yards in 15 plays, but had to settle for a 22 yard field goal after the drive stalled following a first and goal from the nine.
Vandy answered with a five play, 75 yard drive capped by Stacy’s second touchdown of the game, a 14 yard run to put the Commodores back up 16-9 early in the fourth.