Missouri football: One play vs. Bama proved Odom is wrong for Tigers job
I’ll admit it — this week, I planned on sitting down on Sunday morning and writing another scathing column about the Missouri Tigers and how the Alabama game was another dreadful sign for the program.
However, that’s not what I’m going to do. Were there bad moments in Saturday’s 39-10 loss to the No. 1 Crimson Tide? Of course, but there were a surprising amount of good moments, too.
Even after the Tide scored their first touchdown less than a minute into the game, and even after Mizzou QB Drew Lock tossed a head-scratching interception on the ensuing possession, the Tigers only trailed Alabama 13-10 after the first quarter.
The second quarter was awful, but then Mizzou only lost the third quarter 2-0 and the fourth quarter 7-0. The defense actually played pretty well, and the offense showed that it could move the ball against an elite defense like Alabama’s.
All in all, it wasn’t the worst effort, and the Tigers played better than expected — especially when you consider that they were without star wide receiver Emanuel Hall. Freshman WR Jalen Knox took another step forward, recording three catches for 61 yards and a touchdown.
Meanwhile, the defense had five tackles for a loss and did something that not many teams can do — forced a Tua Tagovailoa turnover (a first-quarter fumble).
However, none of this matters moving forward because of one huge factor working against the Tigers….
The elephant in the room
Is Barry Odom the right guy to lead this program into the future? Coaching the way he did on Saturday night, I’m not so sure.
The moment that caused me to bury my face in my hands happened with 6:01 left in the second quarter. The play before, Lock connected with running back Larry Rountree III for an 8-yard gain on a third-and-11 play, setting up fourth and 3 inside Alabama territory.
The Tigers trailed 27-10, on the road, against the No. 1 team in the country. Might as well go for it, right? Wrong. When Odom sent out the punting unit, he proved he’s not cut out for coaching in the SEC.
No one expected the Tigers to win Saturday night, so what sort of message do you send to your team when you punt in opposing territory while trailing by 17? It’s no surprise that the Tigers didn’t score again.
Did Odom learn his lesson from that awful decision, at least? Of course not. The very next possession, the Tigers faced fourth and 4 from their own 48, and once again, out trotted Corey Fatony and the punting unit.
After the first punt, it took the Tide only four plays to pass the point where the Tigers punted from. After the second punt, Alabama simply ran out the half — something the Tide might have done anyway if the Tigers went for it on fourth down and failed.
I understand that punting in those scenarios is sometimes the right decision. However, in a game where your team has zero expectations placed upon it, you have to show your players that you believe in them. Instead, Odom took the easy way out and played the field-position battle, and the Tigers fed off that lack of energy.
The Tigers have tough games remaining against Memphis, Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky. At 3-3, the Tigers need to win at least one of those games, and take care of business against Vanderbilt and Arkansas, to even reach bowl eligibility.
If Odom keeps coaching scared like he did on Saturday in Tuscaloosa, the Tigers could very well be sitting at home come bowl season.