ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – College football is back. As Missouri gets ready to kick off the 2016 season at West Virginia on Saturday (11:00 AM CT), former linebacker, assistant coach and defensive coordinator Barry Odom is about to make his debut as the Tigers’ sideline boss. I had a chance to catch up with Odom this week.
TA: Now, you’re in the position of head coach. How much has changed for you?
BO: Well, the time management’s a little bit different. Only half-joking, (but) I’ve got to remember, on the headset, that I do need to click over and talk to the offense every now and then. So excited about having the opportunity to take this team in to go compete. They’ve worked really, really hard, but so has everybody else in the country. You only get so many opportunities and this is our first one. I’m anxious for them to have the chance to go line up and play for the first time.
TA: Does it feel good to at least be able to turn the page? Last year didn’t end well by any stretch.
BO: It’s a new year for the University of Missouri athletic department. Like you said, turn the page and let’s get going for 2016. There will be some bumps along the way, and I hope we play really, really well, Week 1. The thing that I’m stressing with our kids: we control it. We get to write our own script. Let’s worry about us and prepare the right way. And absolutely, let’s go have fun when (we) get a chance to play. Because you don’t get many of them.
TA: What are some of the things you’ll be looking for this offense to accomplish early on, getting into a flow against West Virginia?
BO: The progress that each position group has made over the course of spring practice – and then through the month of August – we’ve gotten better at every spot. Hopefully, we can have some early success, get some first downs, put drives together. And then ultimately we’ve got to score points. That’s what it comes down to. There’s a number of kids that have (no) game experience, but I feel like they have tremendous athletic ability. And it’ll be fun to get those guys out there, in the mix, to see them in a game atmosphere. I’m happy for them. You can feel the excitement in our building about them being ready to go play. We’ve got to take care of the football. If we do that efficiently (and) make sure everybody (does) their job, we’ll be able to move the football a little bit. I’m hopeful. (West Virginia DC) Tony Gibson, I followed him for a number of years, being a defensive guy. They’re very good, very aggressive. So there’s a challenge there, for sure.
TA: You’ve taken some hits on your defensive line, but you sure seem to have some depth there.
BO: We’ll probably play eight different kids throughout the course of a game, maybe nine on the defensive line. I think it’s important that when your number’s called, you go in. There shouldn’t be a drop-off from the 1’s and the 2’s…and they go play. That group has worked extremely hard. Coach (Jackie) Shipp’s done a great job with them, working through some different schematics. They’ll be ready to go.
TA: A little story before we finish? The St. Louis Tiger Club had a golf tournament (at Winghaven CC) and we were on the same green. I think I was 45 feet from the cup. And I said: ‘I make this, I get to call the first play of the season.’ I missed, but by like…two inches, right?
BO: It was close. I was prepared to follow up. You’ve got a couple things you stand for: you’ve got your last name and you’ve got your word. And I said it, before you even lined up. You said it, and I said: ‘Absolutely.’ So, we were close. I do want to know what you were going to call.
TA: Probably something crazy. A flea-flicker. Try to catch them sleeping.
BO: That’s good. I like it.
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