Barry Odom deflects excuses, vows 'full steam ahead' to end losing skid with Florida on tap
As he opened a segment with St. Louis radio station 590 The Fan this week, Missouri coach Barry Odom made a metaphor between the snow falling outside and where the Tigers stand in their season.
“Make it work, right, what are you going to do about it,” Odom said. “Kind of like where we are in our season. Put your head down, put blinders on and go to work. Find a way to battle through it and get back in the winner’s circle, that’s where we’re at.”
As much as Missouri has struggled lately, its defense has kept it in the fight. The Tigers are 10th in the country in total defense, and 4th in pass defense, and made Georgia settle for 4 field goals on Saturday. That’s quite a statement given that it’s been more than a month since Missouri lost the heart and soul of the defense in LB Cale Garrett to a season-ending pectoral injury.
Odom has faced increasing questions in recent weeks about the direction of the program as the team went from ranked, to 3 consecutive losses and a 5-4 record. The one caveat is that every win the Tigers have has come at home and that’s where they’ll play Florida this week.
Twice since the Georgia loss, Odom has discussed the team’s morale and leadership.
“Nobody feels sorry for us,” he said Tuesday. “You go work, and things are not going to be handed to you. … This is another wall, this is another obstacle, this is another thing you’ve got to battle through.”
One of the main issues is jumpstarting the offense that was shutout last week against Georgia, and now faces the possibility of playing as many as three quarterbacks.
QB Kelly Bryant, who didn’t play last week at Georgia, is still dealing with a hamstring injury but has been cleared to play. However, Taylor Powell and Connor Bazelak would play if Bryant has a setback or unable to play.
“We’re not afraid to put him in the game,” Odom said of the freshman Bazelak, who has a big arm. “He’s earned the right to play.”
In terms of the overall offense, Odom knows the problems and he listed them on Tuesday: a poor running game, no vertical passing game and confidence issues. For example, preseason All-SEC TE Albert Okwuegbunam has just 40 yards in the past 3 losses.
Was the earlier 5-game winning streak at home a mirage? After all, every one of the teams has at least 6 losses. One key stat of the streaks is before the Vanderbilt loss, Missouri had an 11-game run of scoring 30 points in each game. Since then, the Tigers have combed for 21 points against Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Georgia.
“The urgency to make sure we go do everything we can in the here and the now to go play our best game,” Odom said. “Anything else would be an excuse and that softens the character. I’ve got the approach on the habits that it takes to go win, bring your lunch pail to work, let’s go find a way to get it done. I’m going to continue to battle and swing and we’re going to break down this wall. There’s not an easy way through it other than full steam ahead with a bunch of guys who want to go get it done.”