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September 19, 2013
When Missouri takes the field against one of the nation's highest scoring offenses on Saturday night, Andrew Wilson will stay on the sideline. Missouri's starting middle linebacker will sit out the first half as a result of a targeting penalty leveled against him early in the second half of Missouri's win over Toledo two weeks ago.
Earlier this week, Wilson spoke for the first time since the call and the ejection that came along with it.
"There's nothing I can do about the rule. As players, we've just got to play because, you know, we don't have anything to do with that," Wilson said. "It's gonna be hard standing there watching. I haven't done that since I redshirted."
Like the rule or not, Missouri won't have Wilson. In his place, redshirt freshman Michael Scherer is listed atop the depth chart at middle linebacker.
"He's a heck of a player," Wilson said. "He's a real smart football player. He hasn't had a lot of experience, but he's real smart and he's doing a great job."
"I feel ready," Scherer said. "I got lucky having an extra week to prepare for them. I'm already a week ahead of schedule. This is kind of like the moment you work for your whole entire life. I feel like I'm as ready as I can be for it and I will be ready come Saturday."
The Tigers have been preparing to play without Wilson daily in practice. The senior co-captain has split time between the first-team and second-team defenses in preparation for the Hoosiers.
"He played with the second-team on Saturday morning and Sunday evening's practice," Pinkel said. "He'll alternate with ones and twos, he'll just go back and forth because in the second half he'll go back in...We have to step it up and play better around him and hopefully learn things from that."
Meanwhile, he has been tutoring Scherer for the better part of a year-and-a-half.
"I've leaned on him the whole time I've been here," Scherer said. "I talk to him, I ask him questions and especially this week during practice. I go to him, he'll give me some advice and tell me what to do."
"Mike and I have always talked about the game plan and I've done everything I can to help him since he's been here," Wilson said.
Wilson will be eligible to return for when the second half kicks off. Once he's back, he pledges to be the same player he was for more than three years before the suspension.
"I'm not gonna change the way I play at all," he said. "I'm just gonna keep hitting people. Hit 'em a little lower and a little harder."