Barry Odom stepped to the podium Monday for his first media day as Missouri’s head coach. He thanked the media for its coverage of his team throughout fall camp and spoke about the emotions that would inevitably run through his head on Saturday against West Virginia.
He doesn’t plan on giving into those emotions. Not doing so will allow him to effectively do his job.
Feeling a little anxious for Saturday, Odom received a comforting visit from former coach Gary Pinkel. Odom wanted to pick his brain, but Pinkel asked him a few questions as well. One question was what does Odom want his demeanor to be like come game time. Odom was able to answer.
“I’ve got to be me,” Odom said. “I need to be in control of the game but I’ve got to be myself.”
What that entails is showing a little bit of emotion. After being the defensive play caller from up in the box last year, he “might throw a few fist pumps” when he’s on the sidelines.
Though he was integral in the defense’s success a year ago, he’s allowing new defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross and co-coordinator Ryan Walters leeway with their duties. Same goes for offensive coordinator Josh Heupel.
“They don’t need me looking over their shoulder,” Odom said.
In addition to the game-to-game and week-to-week responsibilities, Odom envisions a big future for Missouri. There are two recruiting hot beds in his state, and when he combines that along with the hard work he asks of his players, Odom believes the sky is the limit.
“I think we got a championship-caliber program here,” Odom said.
He understands that it might not become that this year, but maintains that if his team is working to leave the program in a better place on a day-to-day basis, that can be accomplished.
Speaking of this year and this week, rather, few have picked Missouri to beat West Virginia on Saturday or to have a lot of success this fall. That might irritate some fans, but being the underdog is something that Odom welcomes and embraces.
“Yeah, I’ll be honest, I really like it,” Odom said. “I like the opportunity to prove people wrong.”
Odom has his first chance to do so on Saturday.
Missouri reveals its depth
A public depth chart is now available for the Mizzou football team. There were a few surprises, but one that didn’t come as a shock was that Drew Lock will be the Tigers’ starting quarterback this Saturday.
Lock had been preparing like he would be the starter, so it didn’t come as much of a surprise for him.
“I truly believed I would be, just from the beginning of all this,” Lock said. “I made my stand last year to become the starting quarterback, I truly thought that I was out here competing in camp as the top guy, and that’s how I always thought it would be.”
Lock has yet to turn 20, but perhaps the biggest jump in his skillset has been his overall leadership. He’s not acting like one of the younger guys on the team, which played a big part in why Odom ultimately went with Lock to be his quarterback.
“We feel like Drew is experienced from last year,” Odom said. “His leadership skills are one of the best on the team.”
It sounds as if that solidifies him as the starter for the whole year, but Odom alluded to backup quarterback Marvin Zanders getting some time if he need be.
“Marvin has proven himself that he’s going to help us win football games,” Odom said.
Other changes that raised some eyebrows were at wide receiver. I figured a J’Mon Moore-Chris Black-Emanuel Hall look after Nate Brown went down with his ankle injury, but redshirt freshman Johnathon Johnson has secured a spot with the No. 1’s.
Johnson had a terrific fall camp last season and was all but a lock to see the field as a true freshman, but an ankle injury on a big play during a scrimmage sidelined him for the year. He’s clearly viewed as a big time playmaker, but I thought he’d be rotated in behind Black. Odom didn’t hide his excitement on what Johnson brings to the table.
“I may be most excited about Johnathon Johnson,” Odom said. “He’s embraced the opportunity to compete every day.”
Walking-on to #DLineZOU
Jordan Harold had to take a leap of faith to get to Missouri last fall. After spending a year in the program, it certainly has paid off so far. Not literally, as he has yet to be rewarded with a scholarship, but he will now find himself running with the first team on Saturday.
“That’s everything that I’ve been working for,” Harold said. “It was realistic to me at the time, but I’m here and it means the world to me.”
This shows that Harold isn’t a typical walk-on. He wasn’t handed the job because of a lack of depth. He earned it. Even without Freshman All-American Walter Brady, the Tigers still had Marcell Frazier, who started some games last year, a potential breakout star in Nate Howard and perhaps the gem of the 2016 class in Tre Williams. Harold beat out all of them. And he’ll have plenty of chances to earn his opponents’ respect starting opposite of Charles Harris.
“I think it’s about time,” Harris said of Harold winning the job. “That’s just his own hard work. He’s been working his butt off the entire year.”