COLUMBIA, Mo.— Three days after he left his home debut late in the third quarter and headed to the locker room well before Missouri’s game was over, Tigers quarterback Kelly Bryant was back at practice Tuesday with no indication he’ll be limited this week.
Bryant took a couple shots to the head and neck area from West Virginia defenders in Saturday’s 38-7 victory, then left the game late in the third quarter. At the time, the team’s official reason for Bryant’s exit was that he was “overheated.”
Bryant underwent tests for a head injury and was not diagnosed with a concussion, he said Tuesday. Missouri coach Barry Odom added that Bryant would have stayed in the game had the score been closer. The Tigers were ahead 31-0 when backup quarterback Taylor Powell replaced Bryant with 1:31 left in the third quarter. After visiting with trainers on the bench, Bryant headed into the locker room for the fourth quarter. He didn’t talk to reporters after the game.
“It was one of those weird feelings. I wasn’t really sure what was going on,” Bryant said. “We just wanted to make sure everything was good and I’m good.”
“They just wanted to take me in (the locker room) to make sure I was good,” he added. “I was fine.”
Bryant guided the Tigers (1-1) on five consecutive scoring drives in the first half and completed 17 of 25 passes for 150 yards and three touchdowns, his first game with three touchdown passes against an FBS opponent in 20 career starts. Through two weeks, Bryant is second in the Southeastern Conference in passing yards (286.5 per game) and third in touchdown passes with five.
“Obviously he made a lot better decisions with the ball,” Missouri offensive coordinator Derek Dooley said of Bryant’s second Mizzou start. “And that’s where it starts. The quarterback has the ball in his hand every play. It’s a big responsibility. We don’t like to put it at risk. He didn’t do it. And he still made the plays that we need to make to win the game. So I’m real proud of him for that.”
TIGERS WANT MORE ON OFFENSE
The Tigers were efficient in the red zone Saturday but Odom wanted to see more urgency in the second half against WVU. The Tigers didn’t score on their final five possessions.
“The one thing that that we looked at in the second half, so it was 31-0 at halftime, you come out in the second half and I don’t think we kept the same intensity especially on the offensive side,” Odom said. “And I know a number of guys are rolling in but the standard of what we need to do when those guys get in the game, there shouldn’t be a drop-off.”
Playing behind mostly backups along the offensive line Powell misfired on all three of his pass attempts. Powell and the reserves figure to see their most playing time of the season Saturday against Southeast Missouri (1-1).
Regardless of the competition, Dooley expects to see a more complete performance Saturday.
“Every week, you’re trying to get better in your execution and your ability to sustain that kind of top-level execution for four quarters,” Dooley said. “And you look at us last week, we did a great job the first half, executed at a really high level. But then the second half, we didn’t quite execute with the same mental intensity and physical intensity. So building our stamina to where we can sustain a level of execution over 90 snaps. That’s a real challenge.”