The Missouri crowd went from jubilation to pure silence with just over a minute left in the first half Saturday against Troy at Faurot Field.
With the Tigers already leading 35-7, MU quarterback Kelly Bryant dropped back and delivered a 6-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jalen Knox. As Bryant's teammates celebrated in the end zone, the crowd of 50,023 drew silent as the prized Clemson transfer rolled on his back after taking a late hit by Troy defensive tackle Travis Sailo that buckled his left knee.
Bryant walked off the field under his own power after a few minutes. He quickly exited to the locker room and didn't play the remainder of the Tigers' 42-10 victory.
It wasn't long until the crowd joined in a chorus of boos after watching the replay.
“Hopefully we will find out something later tonight,” Odom said after the game about Bryant's status. “He is in great spirits, but I don’t want to say anything until we get it confirmed."
Despite the initial fear of major injury, several Missouri players said they talked to Bryant in the locker room and he was fine.
Bryant was unavailable to comment after the win.
“I was just making sure he was OK, and he is OK,” receiver Jonathan Nance said of Bryant. “It’s all good. ... Everything is fine.”
Intentional or not, the Trojans drew a flag on the play for roughing the passer.
Missouri defensive lineman Jordan Elliott said watching Bryant go down was a morale-drainer despite leading by a substantial margin.
"It's a big deal, but we're a very resilient team,” Elliott said. Backup quarterback Taylor Powell played the rest of the game. “Next man up and just ready to go at all times."
Odom was asked his opinion on the late hit on Bryant. He said he would need to see it on tape.
“I know one of our offensive linemen got beat and it was a low tackle, but I will take a look at it and have an opinion after that," he said. "I’m sorry that I don’t. I’ve learned to take a step back and make sure before I say something that I probably shouldn’t.”
Although Bryant didn't play in the second half, the senior quarterback was having another outstanding day for the Tigers by completing 12 of 19 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns.
Odom said prior to Bryant getting hurt in the second quarter, he thought he played a little bit better than he did last time out against South Carolina.
“He has done that each week, in my estimation,” Odom said. “I think next week he will play a little better than he did this week. That is kind of the way he’s worked into it. He understands the role of what we need him to do. He made smart throws and good reads. He’s a tough kid.”
Odom quickly retracted his comment implying Bryant would be cleared for next week.
Bryant also scored his first rushing touchdown of the season from 3 yards out in the first quarter. On the Tigers' next series, Bryant hooked up with Nance on a 64-yard touchdown pass. He found Albert Okwuegbunam for a 16-yard touchdown to make it 28-7, and his final pass put Missouri up by 35.
However, Bryant’s day was done after only 39 plays.
With Ole Miss coming to Columbia next week for homecoming, the Tigers hope to have dodged a bullet considering the number of quarterbacks who have gone down in the Southeastern Conference this season. Quarterbacks injured so far in the SEC East include Kentucky’s Terry Wilson, Florida’s Feleipe Franks and South Carolina’s Jake Bentley. Kyle Trask, the current starter for the Gators, went down Saturday against Auburn but later returned to the game.
Missouri has the toughest part of its schedule coming up. After Ole Miss, Missouri will go on the road for three straight Saturdays against Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Georgia. The Tigers also have nationally-ranked Florida in Columbia on Nov. 16.
Bryant’s absence would be devastating for the Tigers, especially because of his big-game experience they heavily rely upon. Missouri left tackle Yasir Durant said the team prayed for Bryant after his injury.
“He said he's going to be fine and it's the next man up," Durant said. "If Taylor (Powell) happens to play next week, we've got to keep on rolling. Nothing's going to change. Obviously, he doesn't have the speed like Kelly, but as far as what we do, nothing's going to change.”