Barry Odom shares why he joined Arkansas' staff, how the defense turned around so quickly
Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom is being discussed as one of the best hires of the offseason and early contention of Coach of the Year from the perspective of an assistant.
Last year, Arkansas ranked as the worst Power 5 defense in the country in 2019 (124th nationally). This year, the Razorbacks are 60th, and what is most impressive is Arkansas leads the SEC with 13 turnovers.
Odom recently shared his thoughts on how that turnaround began.
“We were very deliberate on teaching and cross-training guys at different positions, just because our depth is not very good, to be quite honest,” Odom said, per 247Sports. “And I thought there would be times throughout the course of this season, because of our depth or lack of, that the guys would have to play different spots.”
One of the most impressive defensive gameplans came when Arkansas bottled up the Mississippi State offense under Mike Leach.
“I’m a simple learner,” Odom said. “And I can’t put together a game plan — I mean, I can, but I’m better when I work way ahead.”
Then they made seven turnovers against Ole Miss a week after the Rebels got in a shootout with Alabama.
“You don’t know if it’s going to be play No. 7 or play No. 91 that determines the outcome of the game and look at those through fourth-down stops at, really, the inch-line and how huge that ended up being at the end of the day,” Odom said. “That’s more validation for the things that we’re talking about. We play every snap as if it is its own game.”
Ultimately, a lot of the credit goes to coach Sam Pittman, who lured Odom to Fayetteville.
“I’ve known him for a long time, and he is as sincere and as real of a person as I’ve ever been around,” Odom said. “And that’s hard to find in this line of work.”