Mizzou Media Day Notebook: Offense Takes Step Forward

Some news and notes from the Missouri football team's media day on Monday...

COLUMBIA, Mo. — You can’t be happy when you lose, J'Mon Moore said Monday, but there were some good things that happened in the Missouri Tigers' season-opening loss at West Virginia

“I feel like we took a step forward as an offense,” said Moore, a junior wide receiver. “I really felt like we took a step forward. We just need to score. We moved the ball but we didn’t put points on the board. But I feel like we took a step forward. 

“Looking at the film, I saw a lot of good things but we have to capitalize. We have to score points and win. So some good things out there but we have some more stuff to work on.”

http://www.scout.com/college/missouri/story/1702926-missouri-west-virgin...

Missouri lost 26-11 against West Virginia on Saturday but racked up 462 yards of total offense (282 passing, 180 rushing), averaged 4.6 yards per play and had 26 first downs (13 rushing, 11 passing and two via penalties). The total yardage was more than the Tigers had gained in any game during their 5-7 season a year ago.

So despite the defeat, the Tigers felt like they took a significant step forward on offense after struggling so much offensively last season. 

“Definitely,” senior wide receiver Chris Black said. “Like the coaches have preached to us, there’s a lot of great things, a lot of things to be proud of, on that film. So we’ll continue to get better.”

Redshirt sophomore backup quarterback Marvin Zanders said it was encouraging seeing the offense move the ball like they did. 

“That was the biggest thing because last year I think like every other drive was a three and out,” Zanders said. “So just to stay on the field — I think we only had one three and out the other night — so that’s way better than we did last year. So that’s a big plus. Now we have to finish drives and make them count.”

That will be the challenge going forward for the Tigers. 

ODOM TAKES CRITICISM

Missouri head coach Barry Odom admitted Monday he made a mistake in the second quarter on Saturday when quarterback Drew Lock was finding his rhythm, the coach inserted Zanders on second down and then the drive stalled in West Virginia territory.  

“I know I pulled the guy at the wrong time and I understand that,” Odom said. “We had some momentum going and then Marvin went in. Anyway, like I said, I’m learning too. We’ll get better.”

Who criticized the coach? 

“That was in reference to my oldest son telling me, ‘Hey, what in the world are you doing in the third series?’” Odom said. “Now looking at it in the flow of the game, that position is so important, the way Drew was playing and when Marvin was playing when he came in, I still have great trust and great comfort in both of them running our offense. I have to be smart with that. 

“Both of them are great competitors and I like them and I like the way they compete. Both of them were in here watching video Saturday night. That’s pretty cool.”

UPTEMPO TIGERS

The Tigers unveiled their new-look uptempo offense against West Virginia. The result was a 100-play performance,  that seemed to be a hit with the players.

“We enjoy getting as many plays as we can, just moving fast,” said senior running back Alex Ross, who said he played in a similar uptempo style when he was at Oklahoma. 

Moore said he also enjoyed the fast pace.

“I feel like we’ve always got the defense on their heels,” Moore said. “Like they can’t line up fast enough. They can’t get into their coverage. It gives us the edge. So when you’ve got the edge on your opponent it just helps you be more dominant.”

The Tigers’ starting offensive line played every one of the 100 offensive snaps on Saturday, but that wasn’t a problem for them.

“It’s definitely an edge for us,” redshirt junior right guard Alec Abeln said. “It’s definitely something we need to keep doing and get better at, but I think it will only help us moving forward.”

Missouri head coach Barry Odom said the Tigers will play even faster than they did at West Virginia as they go along, but also cautioned that they take things slower when they need to.

“We’ve got a pretty good offensive mind as a staff upstairs,” Odom said. “Again, it’s about putting our kids in a position to do what they can do and for us, with our skillset right now, that’s going to give us an advantage. There will be times that we will play faster than that and there will be times that we need to slow down so to speak and do some different things out of the huddle.”

LOCK’S GROWTH

A couple players were asked what was different about Lock from last season to Saturday’s game, where the sophomore threw for a career-high 280 yards. 

“I like seeing Drew grow,” Moore said. “So, seeing him out there and seeing him look a little bit more like relaxed — he looked kind of panicked last year; he had this little boy look in his helmet — so just seeing him out there a couple days ago he just looked more poised, he looked more comfortable. I liked seeing that in him.”

Abeln, who started three games on the offensive line last season, said he thought the difference in Lock was that this is now his offense.

“Last year obviously with Maty (Mauk) and him kind of rotating in and being a true freshman, I don’t know if he had the ownership of it,” the Tigers’ right guard said. “The amount of hours the quarterbacks have spent in this building since January I think has led to some ownership of the offense and more confidence in it. So I think the amount that he’s invested this offseason has translated to him being more confident in that role. He’s done a great job.”

J’DEN COX PLAYING FOOTBALL?

Missouri wrestler J’den Cox, fresh off winning a bronze medal at the Olympics in Rio, told reporters last week he wants to play football after his senior season with the Tigers’ wrestling team. He could potentially join the football team before the 2017 season.

Odom was asked about that possibility on Monday. 

“A number of months ago he stopped me in the weight room — he was working out like he always does and I was walking through the weight room thinking about working out but not doing it — and he pulled me over to the side and said, hey, I really want to play football,” Odom said. “We kind of looked at each other and I said that’s great. … Obviously (he’s) one of the best wrestlers in the world. I told him, you make sure you take care of wrestling and if you want the opportunity to play football then we will sit down and have a serious conversation about it and we did. 

“If it lines up, and he wants to play, then I’m all for it. But I also know that the wrestling federation will probably, I don’t know what they are going to have to say about that, or (Missouri wrestling coach) Brian Smith, who I’m good friends with, he’s got a lot of wrestling years left in front of him. But I also didn’t want to end up in a figure four down on the ground waving for help because I know who would win that match if we were squared up. I just kind of said whatever you want, man, let’s go.”

Odom said he remembered Cox, a two-time NCAA wrestling champion, from his days playing football at Hickman High School in Columbia. 

“I remember him in high school,” Odom said. “I remember him playing. I know this, world-wide, he’s got to be one of the competitors in the world. I kind of like that, you know what I mean? … He’s an unbelievable kid and an ambassador for not only the university, the athletic department and state of Missouri but our country. We’ll continue to talk and see where it goes.” 

J'den Cox (David E. Klutho-USA TODAY Sports)

DEPTH CHART CHANGES

The depth chart released Monday did not have any significant changes compared to the Week 1 depth chart. 

Offensively, sophomore wide receiver Keyon Dilosa is now listed as the backup behind Moore at one receiver spot — where junior Dominic Collins was listed last week. Collins had a 22-yard reception in Saturday's loss, while Dilosa had a 2-yard catch.

On defense, redshirt sophomore defensive end Spencer Williams is listed with the “or” designation behind junior Jordan Harold at one of the defensive end spots and sophomore defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. is listed as the “or” with redshirt senior Rickey Hatley for one of the defensive tackle spots. 

You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch or email him at natelatsch@gmail.com.

Want more BlackAndGoldIllustrated.com coverage? Become a member today to get insider information, members-only forums, exclusive videos, team shop offers and ticket discounts. Click HERE to learn more and get a 7-day free trial.

 

null

Black & Gold Illustrated Top Stories