Quarterback James Franklin said he couldn’t imagine the frustration that fellow senior Andrew Wilson felt during the first half of Missouri’s 45-28 victory Saturday at Indiana.
Wilson was suspended until halftime after being ejected for a targeting penalty during the Sept. 7 win against Toledo when he delivered an accidental forearm to the Bernard Reedy’s head on a pass over the middle.
Before the Tigers took on the Hoosiers, Wilson was permitted to warm up with the team, but by the coin toss he had been sequestered in the visiting locker room.
"I re-showered and just chilled for the first quarter," said Wilson, a Raymore-Peculiar graduate and one of Missouri’s four permanent captains.
Sounds easy enough, but the truth is that it was far from easy for Wilson to watch his teammates battle Indiana on a blurry TV in the bowels of Memorial Stadium.
"It was actually really, really blurry," Wilson said. "I couldn’t even really see the numbers, but I was keenly watching it. Luckily, it was good or I might have broken the TV."
Don Barnes, who is the director of the Tigers’ equipment room and watched the first half from the locker room with Wilson, probably wouldn’t have let that happen.
"Toward the end of the first quarter, (Barnes) started getting me ready to go and I kind of warmed up a little," Wilson said.
That’s when the adrenaline kicked in.
"I was calm for the first quarter, but once I started getting ready to go I really started champing at the bit and wanted to get out there," Wilson said.
Upon Wilson’s return, he made three tackles, including a key third-down stop against Hoosiers quarterback Tre Roberson for a 1-yard loss.
"He’s a really good leader on the defensive side of the ball and he does a really good flying to it and making some big hits," Franklin said. "We always joke around and call him ‘The Waterboy’ and things like that, but he’s a playmaker and it was good to have him back out there in the second half. I noticed a difference when he was out there."
Indiana only managed 23 yards in the third quarter on 15 plays after Wilson’s return and a switch from a 4-2-5 look to the "30" defense.
Asked which was more important, Wilson’s return or the change in scheme, cornerback and captain E.J. Gaines made no bones: "I would say our captain coming back, Wilson. We knew he was coming back in the second half and it was like the start of a whole new game when he came back."