Jauan Jennings will miss the first half of Thursday’s Gator Bowl against Indiana after the SEC suspended for him for an incident in the Vanderbilt game where it appeared Jennings’ cleat came in contact with a helmetless Commodores player. On Wednesday, Jennings publicly commented on the incident.

“An unfortunate event took place,” Jennings said in a bowl game media opportunity, per Blake Toppmeyer of the Knoxville News Sentinel. “It was unfortunate, because it was an accident.”

It was Jennings’ first interview since UT’s 2019 regular-season finale. Volunteers coach Jeremy Pruitt went to bat for his senior wide receiver.

“Jauan Jennings has done nothing but do everything exactly the way we want him to since I’ve been the head coach at Tennessee,” Pruitt told reporters at the same media session. “The guy has graduated. He’s competed. He’s been a great leader. In this game, you see it every Saturday, there’s lots of physicality in this game. Jauan plays the right way.

“Commissioner (Greg) Sankey made a decision on that, and we’re going to support it. In no way does that depict who Jauan is or the circumstances around it. He’s going to be ready to play in the second half, and our guys will be ready to play without him in the first half. That’s the way it works.”

Jennings was not penalized during the game, but the SEC assessed that Jennings committed a flagrant personal foul upon postgame video review.

UT will face Indiana in the Gator Bowl from Jacksonville, which is set for a 7 p.m. ET kickoff Thursday on ESPN.