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VOL. 132 | NO. 151 | Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Former U of M Assistant Barry Odom To Try To ‘Fix’ Problems He Inherited at Missouri

By Don Wade

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Barry Odom’s first season as coach at Missouri did not go like he envisioned. A former defensive coordinator at the University of Memphis (2012-2014), Odom’s first Missouri team led the SEC in total offense last season (500.5 yards per game) while finishing last in total defense (479.7 ypg).

Those extremes did not meet in the middle with a .500 record. Missouri finished 4-8, 2-6 in the league.

“Defensively, we weren’t near good enough last year,” Odom said. “And when you win four games, it hurts your soul. And that’s where I was at. So you figure how to fix it whether you inherited the problems or you had the problems on your watch.

“That’s the job of a coach. That’s why they call you coach. Go fix it.”

Missouri head coach Barry Odom watches his players warm up before the team’s Black and Gold spring football game on April 15 in Columbia, Mo. The former University of Memphis defensive coordinator went 4-8 in his first campaign. (Timothy Tai/Columbia Daily Tribune via AP)

On offense, 10 starters return. Junior quarterback Drew Lock led the SEC with 3,399 passing yards. Running back Damarea Crockett set a Missouri record for rushing yards as a freshman with 1,062 and rushing touchdowns with 10.

Senior wide receiver J’mon Moore led the SEC with 84.3 receiving yards per game and his 1,012 receiving yards (on 62 catches) ranked second. But Moore still feels the sting of the Tigers’ 28-27 home loss to Georgia in the season’s third week.

Missouri led the Bulldogs, 27-21, when Moore caught a pass from Lock (he was intercepted three times during the game) for a 20-yard gain. But the play ended with Moore fumbling and Georgia recovering with about a minute to play. Enough time for Missouri to lose a heartbreaker in the first league game of the season.

“Probably stay with me for the rest of my life,” Moore said. “I felt like I lost it. I fumbled, and I felt like it was against my culture.”

It was a season of culture change with Odom replacing Gary Pinkel, who stepped down after the 2015 season citing health concerns. Pinkel had been Missouri’s coach since 2001 and in 2013-14 led the Tigers to consecutive SEC East Division championships. Missouri fell back to 5-7 in his last year, finishing sixth in the East.

Lock says Odom is not the same coach he was in 2016, that much like a player he evolved and grew.

“For him, he came out full-steam ahead, gonna be all in it, not be a stand-in-the-middle head coach,” Lock said. “I think now he’s kinda figured it out a little bit, knows when to jump in and when to let an (offensive coordinator) be an OC or whatever.

“At same time, he’s almost a father figure to us. He had to be a little more business that first year, had to figure out the ways. But I’ve seen him more this offseason than I did the last one. He’s being there for us – more relaxed in a good way.”

But no less serious, according to Moore.

“He’s attacking everything, attacking workouts, attacking the way we eat, the way we bond, attacking everything we do,” Moore said. “He’s got a sense of urgency about himself. When he says, ‘winning culture,’ he doesn’t mean next couple of years. He means winning culture now. He’s more relaxed, but when it’s time to turn the switch on he means business.”

The 2016 season ended on a high note. Down 24-7, at home, to Arkansas, the Tigers rallied for a 28-24 victory. Senior linebacker Eric Beisel had talked some trash before that game and this summer he defended his comments with the ultimate result and suggested he won’t change his tone anytime soon.

“I had no doubt we were going to win that game,” Beisel said. “I don’t think any outsiders believed we would win the game, so that was really more for a show I guess. But that rivalry is always going to be personal. People are always uncomfortable when things get personal, so why don’t we just make it personal?”

It’s also not a bad way to create interest in the program. Beisel has been working as a marketing intern at Missouri, selling football tickets.

“I needed an internship to graduate, so killing two birds with one stone,” Beisel said. “This is a service industry, but an entertainment industry as well, so I’m here to entertain and win some games.”

For the sake of his head coach, hopefully more than four.

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