It’s humid at 9 a.m. in Columbia, so it’s fitting that “Hot” by Young Thug (feat. Gunna) is the song of choice to open up the Tigers’ stretching lines, the same as the week before. But Tuesday, while the song played, the tone was a little different.
There was still the same adrenaline-filled shouts from the players, but the team was more serious this week than last. It seemed like they knew exactly what the loss to Wyoming meant for this season and that what comes Saturday is now even more important.
Barry Odom knows it. “I thought I had a pretty good feel on how we would respond in some of those situations and I was wrong, we didn’t respond very well.” …I hate that we lost the game, I hate it more than anybody, it’s awful.” He’s clearly aware of the sobering reality of what the loss to Wyoming means, “We got outplayed. You know, it’s frustrating but we’ve earned that right now and until we go prove it different, that’s who we are.”
Kelly Bryant threw 31/48 for 423 yards last Saturday. On Tuesday, Coach Odom commented on Bryant’s performance saying, “…I thought out of the gate, he played pretty well.” He threw the ball extremely well the other night.”
With only 20 yards of rushing on 11 carries, Bryant didn’t put on the clinic we may have been hoping for. On when to allow Bryant to take off, Odom simply put it, “I’ve got to trust him.”
Larry Rountree III was at the top of the running back depth chart, but nearly split reps with sophomore Tyler Badie. The reason for this? Coach Odom stated, “He [Badie] was playing better.”
Continuing on, Odom said, “I think there are a number of ways to look at that and opportunities we were trying to get a couple mismatches with. Badie, he’s got a different skillset than Larry does in some of the things in the pass game and we were looking at them.”
On the matter of if there are any concerns as to how Rountree will respond to the challenges of the previous week, “Zero. I’ve got a lot of concerns, that’s not one of them right now. I know what we have with Rountree and I know he’s going to be hungry to get back out and be himself.”
A dismal run defense showed up last Saturday. Mizzou gave up 299 rushing yards where Quarterback Sean Chambers lead the Wyoming ground attack with 120 of those yards. Coach Odom took responsibility in regard to the defense, “We didn’t get them ready to go play their best.”
When asked about the performance of the defensive backs, he responded, “Not consistent enough. It felt like we were hesitating on our assignments when we need to be able to do it in a moment’s time…”
Coach Odom responded to concerns about missed tackles as well. He told the press that normally on a Tuesday following a game, the team is in what he called a “thud situation”—where they “get in position with correct leverage angles and proper technique,” but instead, live tackling was implemented with the first and second defense.
“We did some live periods today, defensively anyway, which I think will help us.”
Saturday & Beyond
Wyoming ran wild on what was supposed to be an improving Tiger defense. West Virginia is a different kind of team than Wyoming. Last week against FCS opponent James Madison University, the Mountaineers threw for 260 yards while only rushing for 34. Coach Odom had high praise for quarterback Austin Kendall: “He throws a really good deep ball, he’s got a good presence. It seems like he’s a mature competitor.” Odom also mentioned he’s aware of the deep threat West Virginia should present, saying, “I know they want to attack down the field… it seemed to me they want to attack six to ten times a game it looks like, down the field.”
Coach Odom noted the chance the home opener presents: “Our guys will embrace the opportunity to play at home. I know they’re excited about that. And we look forward to a great crowd and playing our best.” Just as Wyoming proved, this team can’t look over anyone. So Odom is taking it one week at a time. “I’m really focused on, let’s get after it this Saturday and if we do that, we’ll worry about the next one.”
Odom and his squad have got a lot riding on Saturday’s game. The Kelly Bryant train has begun its five week stay at Faurot, and Saturday, dozens of Tigers starved for redemption will take the field. They’ll need an even hungrier sea of black and gold fans to will show up and show out for this team, with SEC Nation here pre-game, it’s a great opportunity for fans to help get the train back on the tracks.