The Ole Miss defense will be without inside linebacker Jacquez Jones and defensive end Tariqious Tisdale for the first half of the Texas A&M matchup after both were called for targeting against Missouri.
NCAA rules dictate that helmet-to-helmet contact confirmed as targeting after review in the second half of the contest results in the offending player’s disqualification from the rest of that game as well as the first half of the next game.
Jones was the first to leave the game at the start of the third quarter. When Mizzou quarterback Kelly Bryant scrambled and slid to the ground, Jones went to the ground with him and made head-to-head contact with the defenseless player. Tisdale was disqualified in the fourth quarter.
“The thing with Jacquez was just so unfortunate. I don’t know. It was kind of a half-slide, half-hit, half-touch. It was kind of a weird deal,” defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre said on Monday. “I understand why they called it and why they did. But I don’t know how you practice that one. I really don’t. The guy slid really, really late and stayed upright and he’s trying to pull off. It was kind of a weird deal. But that happens sometimes. They need to protect the players and they need to make sure they emphasize the rules.”
MacIntyre also announced his displeasure with the targeting penalty enforcement, explaining that he believes each penalty should get the same time amount of suspension, similar to hockey.
“I like enforcing the penalty. I think the penalty is correct and targeting is correct, but the enforcement is wrong,” MacIntyre said. “You do the same crime, you should pay the same time. I think it needs to be changed and it needs to be looked at hard. They’ve tweaked it a little bit, but I think they need to tweak it further, so that one kid doesn’t miss 55 minutes and another guy misses 35. That’s not right. That’s not right at all.”
The absence of the two defenders leaves the Rebels in a less-than-ideal situation on the interior in the first half against Aggie quarterback Kellen Mond, who shares a common skill set to Mizzou’s Bryant.
“Similar. He is good enough to run it, and they have designed quarterback runs. That’s the difference,” head coach Matt Luke said. “It’s not just scrambling or zone read. They have some powers and some quarterback counters schemed up for him to run the football. Then, when you have a guy that can do that as well as throw it, it presents challenges.”
The suspensions will force the Rebels to call on more backups on the defense to produce. Jones replaced injured starting linebacker MoMo Sanogo, and Tisdale was filling in for Ryder Anderson, who’s been dealing with a knee injury since the California game.
“Guys have to step up. No different than an ankle injury or anything else. Next man up,” Luke said. “Hopefully make it through the first half, and they’ll come back fresh for the second half. You got what you got. You don’t get to pull anyone else up. KD Hill has to step up inside. You may move Josiah (Coatney) or Benito (Jones). Those three defensive linemen are interchangeable, so I think we have some flexibility there.”