Last Saturday’s take down of South Carolina was a necessary win to keep the goals for the season alive. The offense looked problematic at times and sharp at others, but they drove the ball and put points on the board. The defense looked dominant. They limited the Gamecocks’ offensive production and won the turnover battle like the coaching staff has been preaching.
Sure, a bye week may be good for healing bumps and bruises, and Coach Odom agreed. “Just from a physical health standpoint,” he said after practice on Tuesday when he met with the media, “We needed it. We felt like going into last week we had a band aid on a lot of things, health wise. It comes at a great time.”
Coach Odom is also keenly aware of his record with time to prepare for a game. He has yet to lead the Tigers to a win coming off the bye. He spoke about what he has changed for this bye week. “From a staff standpoint, we treated it a lot different,” he said. “Typically, we’ve been on the road recruiting pretty quickly. We’re gonna stay in house all week this week, get out at the very end of the week. And then in the way that we’ve practiced… We’ve got up to this point, we’ve got the Troy game plan in.” He continued, “I like the change that we’ve made and hopefully the result will be different for us.”
From an offensive standpoint, Odom spoke about receiver production, namely Johnathon Johnson hitting 2,000 receiving yards. “He’s a playmaker, obviously, in a lot of different ways,” Odom said. “We gotta find ways to continue to get the ball to him.”
Opening SEC play with a solid win is a great starting point for the program. Nothing can negate the Wyoming loss. But at least Missouri fans can have the peace of mind that the loss in Laramie was a fluke and that the Tigers have a much higher ceiling than the season opener showed. Barry Odom is pleased with the win streak, but he’s not writing anybody off.
“We’re gonna get tested. Troy, they’re really talented on offense. They’re a talented team, they’re scoring 40 points a game. They’re throwing it all over the yard and we’ll get tested,” Odom said. “And the next week, Ole Miss is doing the same thing. So, we’ve got a lot of work yet to go… But as soon as you take a breath and you think damn, we got this, that’s when you get knocked out.”
In reference to the secondary’s performance, Odom said, “The guys, they’ve bought into what we’re doing schematically, and they played well.” Missouri currently is the fifth best defense in passing yards allowed and the sixth best total defense in the nation.
Coach Odom also noted what he thought has contributed to special teams’ improvement. “I think a lot of work has gone into it,” he said. He lauded Richaud Floyd’s decision making on punt returns and the ten other players blocking for him.
In regards to freshmen playing time this season, Coach Odom said, “I’m never going to rule anybody out. This is going to be a long season. We got eight games that we know of left and it’s going to take everybody on our roster to go get it done.”
As for injury updates, it looks like Yasir Durant could make his return soon; he resumed full practice Tuesday and will presumably be ready when the Tigers take on Troy. Tight end Brendan Scales suited up and partially practiced— he’s been out since fall camp when he suffered a broken foot. Defensive end Trajan Jeffcoat also has not practiced in full. He continues to heal from an elbow injury he suffered in early August. Odom also announced disappointing news about linebacker Aubrey Miller. “Aubrey… he’s anticipating he’ll be out for the year.”
There’s a growing trend with players around the nation using their redshirt as a senior. Coach Odom praised players like Ronnell Perkins, Richaud Floyd and others for sticking with Mizzou despite the road not always being easy. “You look at the story of having an opportunity to just stay with it, stay the course and understand that in life things aren’t always going to go your way. Anything worthwhile you’re really going to have to work hard for and you might get knocked down four times, but you’ve gotta get up five.”
With a week and a half ahead of them before their next game, the Tigers have some time to heal up. After facing Troy at home, Odom’s squad will take on their slate of SEC competitors and enter the thick of the season. With no Tiger football Saturday, fans can only hope that Odom and team are doing everything right with their bye week— whatever that may be.