Welcome to the bye week.
In most areas of the country, this is a week known for rest and relaxation. It’s a time to reflect on where your favorite team ranks among the conference hierarchy, and where the season could go from here.
That’s not what it represents at Missouri. Not recently, anyway. Instead, we get to talk about the bye week itself.
Odom is 0-3 after an in-season bye week since taking over as Missouri’s head coach. He’s lost those three games by a combined score of 117-83. To be fair, one of those losses was a lopsided shellacking at the hands of Florida back in 2016. The other two were both one-score losses on the road at Kentucky and at South Carolina.
That can’t happen this time around. This year isn’t like previous seasons under Odom.
Sure, the team still has that ugly loss to start off the year. But the key difference is the Tigers didn’t let it happen again. They didn’t allow the negativity to engulf the program going into the bye, and to spit it out by the time it comes out of the bye.
In 2016, Odom started out the season with a season-opening loss on the road at West Virginia. Two weeks later, the Tigers added a heart-breaking loss at home against Georgia. The post-bye week loss was simply the latest in a long line of disappointing results that year.
2017 was much of the same. Losses to South Carolina, Purdue and Auburn compounded on one another leading into Odom’s (literal) fiery speech going into the bye... Only to watch his team lose to Kentucky on the other side of the bye.
For me, it’s last year’s post-bye week loss that stands out the most.
The Tigers were 3-1. They were coming off a loss against Georgia that was both frustrating, and also somewhat encouraging. The Tigers weren’t supposed to be in that game, but they held close for most of it and without a few costly turnovers, it really felt like they had a shot. But that encouragement went by the wayside after the bye week once again. The monsoon game happened in South Carolina. And the air was let out of the balloon once again.
That balloon that is the Mizzou fan base has finally been re-inflated. I can sense the optimism building within the fanbase. The loss at Wyoming is still on the resume, sure, but the team has rebounded in a way that feels real to me. The defense is playing inspired football. The offense is starting to build an identity.
There is some reason to believe the bye week came at the right time for this team.
Yasir Durant hasn’t been right for weeks. Kelly Bryant has taken some big hits, and some time off certainly could do him some good. Albert O seemingly never practices. A couple weeks without taking a hit against his body can’t hurt.
But the history is still concerning. Odom knows this. He’s reportedly changing the routine for what the team will do with its down time. That’s good. Because whatever was done in the past clearly didn’t work.
And on the horizon is a Troy team that lost to Southern Miss. This isn’t your daddy’s Troy. Their pre-season win total was set at 6.5. They already have a loss on the resume against Southern Miss.
This is a team Missouri should beat 90 times out of 100.
But it’s the 10 percent that keeps coaches like Odom up at night. It’s the 10 percent that has Odom changing his routine this week. It’s the 10 percent that keeps Missouri fans from fully buying in. Not yet, anyway.
The bye week is here. That’s been more problematic for Odom in previous years than it needs to be. He’s proven he can right the ship in other key areas this season.
Now he gets the opportunity to do it again.