COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The home opener for Missouri carries a lot of weight for new coach Barry Odom.
The game comes against Eastern Michigan — the same opponent Missouri played when Odom was a sophomore linebacker for the Tigers. He and his teammates got a win that day, 44-24 back on Sept. 6, 1997.
His first home game as coach at his alma mater also carries a bit of pressure after last weekend’s 26-11 loss at West Virginia to open the season.
“I tried to look at things that I thought that I did OK, and things that I didn’t do well enough,” Odom said of his coaching debut. “There’s a long list of things that I need to improve on. The ability to try to make in-game adjustments with both sides of the ball … I was probably a little too quiet at times.”
The Eagles (1-0) won their home opener easily, pounding Mississippi Valley State 61-14 — the most points the Eagles have scored since 2004.
“It’s hard to score 60 points in college football and they did it,” Odom said. “I’m really impressed with what they did on offense, and equally as much defensively. They’re sound.”
Odom served as defensive coordinator for the Tigers in 2015, and his defensive mentality was on display against the Mountaineers. Despite allowing 494 yards in an up-tempo game, Missouri forced three turnovers, matching its 2015 game high.
“They’re a really good football team,” Eastern Michigan coach Chris Creighton said of the Tigers. “Defensively, it’s well documented that they’ve been an incredibly talented and productive defense.”
Here are some things to watch Saturday:
Against West Virginia, Missouri’s offense ran 100 plays, more than any team in the nation that week. Until then, the Tigers had run 100 plays of offense just four times since 1958. Additionally, after averaging 15 first downs per game in 2015, Missouri picked up 26 first downs against the Mountaineers, the most since defeating Arkansas 21-14 on Nov. 29, 2014.
“They play really fast on offense,” Creighton said. “Essentially, almost everybody now is no-huddle, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re an up-tempo team. Even if you’re a tempo team, there’s usually some variance, and they’ll vary things as well, but their norm is super fast. Just as fast as you can go.”
The Eagles are 0-8 all-time against members of the SEC. Their last matchup came on Oct. 3, 2015, when Leonard Fournette and LSU handed them a 44-22 loss in Baton Rouge.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Missouri has not lost a home opener since 2005, when New Mexico won at Memorial Stadium, 45-35. The Tigers are 91-31-4 in their last 125 home openers.
“We’ve got a tremendous home field advantage,” Odom said. “It’s exciting for our kids to play at home, especially at night. We’re looking forward to that.”
Eastern Michigan running backs Shaq Vann and Ian Eriksen both found the end zone twice against Mississippi Valley State. Vann had a career-high 156 rushing yards while Eriksen had 97 in his collegiate debut as a ball carrier.
“The story for us was our other backs stepping up and having good games as well,” Creighton said. “We’re not surprised at all by that … We couldn’t take any steps backward in terms of the one-two punch with Darius Jackson and Shaq Vann.”
About that 1997 game … Odom ended up with five tackles and a pass deflection against Eastern Michigan.
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