Entering his second season as football coach at the University of Missouri, Barry Odom likes that his offense has a 1,000 yard rusher, 1,000 yard receiver, and 2,000 yard passer returning from 2016, but realizes that without defensive improvement, the Tigers will be looking at another struggling season in 2017.
As part of the MU Caravan visit to Northwestern High School in Mendon on Wednesday night, Odom spoke about how he has been more “hands-on” in improving the defense, and of being more comfortable in his second spring as Mizzou coach, in comparison to a year ago, when the former Tiger linebacker took over from Gary Pinkel, during a tumultuous time on the Mizzou campus.
Just over one month after the completion of Mizzou’s spring practice, Odom sounds encouraged by the positive steps the football team has taken since the end of the 2016 season:
Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of Odom’s rookie season was the play of true freshman running back Damarea Crockett, a native of Little Rock, Arkansas who quickly took the role as the Tigers #1 running back. Odom had noting but praise for Crockett, along with Jim Sterk, the new Mizzou Athletic Director who took that job a season ago, taking over for Mack Rhoades, who left for Baylor:
In 2016, sophomore quarterback Drew Lock took significant positive steps from his play as a freshman, with Odom believing that the Blue Springs native is capable of making another step forward in his junior year:
Mizzou will open the 2017 season on September 2nd, hosting the Missouri State Bears, and former MU defensive coordinator Dave Steckel, at Faurot Field. The SEC opener is the following week, as the Tigers host South Carolina. Missouri will host Auburn on September 23rd before starting the conference road slate at Kentucky on October 7th.