When Shane Ray was ejected in the second quarter for targeting, you could see the writing on the wall.

How could Missouri come back from this and compete with the nation’s top football team without its best player for an entire half? It couldn’t.

Even if Shane Ray hadn’t been ejected, it’s likely the game would have been much more competitive, considering the beating Alabama put on Missouri. However, in his absence, there was another standout performer who did his best to emulate Ray’s disruptive nature in the backfield — senior Lucas Vincent.

The defensive tackle is normally eating up running plays with his 6-foot-2, 305-pound frame but it was in the SEC Championship where Vincent displayed his pass rushing prowess.

In what became the best game of his career at Missouri, Vincent recorded seven total tackles including 2.0 tackles for loss, one sack and one QB hurry. His seven tackles and two tackles for loss were both career highs.

Whenever the Missouri defensive line made a big play, it seemed like Vincent was always in the thick of things. Once Missouri settled down after Alabama’s first drive, Vincent wasted no time.

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He and Ray combined for a sack early in the first half against Blake Sims on Alabama’s second drive of the game. Another one of his sacks came at a crucial point in the third quarter when Alabama was driving, up only 11 points. Vincent stuffed Sims again, this time on a 3rd and 6 play that forced Alabama to punt it away.

It appeared that Vincent’s big play could have sparked a potential comeback from the Tigers. But it the Crimson Tide rebounded quickly and put away Missouri with 21 points in the fourth quarter.

“I thought we made a run at in the third quarter,” Pinkel said following the game. “But then [Alabama] answered with a drive and then they got a 90-yard drive. So they responded really like you want a football team to do. That’s what good teams do.”

Vincent’s breakout performance may not have garnered the same attention as a similar game from Ray would have done, but it’s just another testament to Missouri’s incredible depth along the defensive line.

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Ray’s ejection was a shocker to say the least. Very rarely do you see a player of Ray’s caliber ejected from a championship game like he was, so early in the game. But Missouri didn’t flinch, and while the Tigers did lose by 29-points, they showed a lot of poise and courage fighting the way they did throughout the game.

And you can thank Vincent’s performance for spearheading that intensity. Because of Vincent, Alabama fans got to see just what Missouri’s defensive line is all about, even without it’s game-changing defensive end Shane Ray.