Missouri football coach Barry Odom delivered some good news during his weekly Monday afternoon press conference regarding his team’s recent rash of injuries.
Odom said redshirt junior offensive lineman Alec Abeln, redshirt senior cornerback John Gibson and sophomore linebacker Terez Hall are expected to play on Saturday at South Carolina after missing the Tigers’ loss to Kentucky.
“All three of them practiced last night,” Odom told reporters. “It was good to see Terez back out there. We missed him the other day not being in there. Abeln looked better last night than he did last week at any point. Then J.G., John Gibson, practiced really well.”
Gibson started the first seven games. Abeln started the first six games before missing the past two. Hall is a reserve linebacker who could have had a bigger role on the defense with recent injuries to Michael Scherer and Donavin Newsom.
Odom also had some good news on Newsom, the Tigers’ leading tackler. He left Saturday’s 35-21 loss to visiting Kentucky with a left quad strain.
“He didn’t practice last night,” Odom said. “He’s still pretty sore. I would say he would be probable at this point. With Donavin, as much experience as he has, really guys at the spot that we’re asking him to play… The other day, some of the things that we’ve built in, really, when he went down, in our different packages that’s about four different spots. I’m hoping we can get him back and just play base defense with him and maybe do a couple other things.
“We probably won’t really have a clear picture until Thursday. He’s gonna go through everything and if he can practice a little bit tomorrow we’ll see. Again, there’s a lot of difference in being able to function in a limited practice and then being able to go play. I’m not worried from his mental capacity on picking up the game plan and what we’re doing this week. I won’t be worried about that for him because he’ll do a great job of studying video and being prepared but just physically if he can do it.”
Odom made note that Newsom has never been a real vocal guy but was on Saturday night.
“It means so much to him,” Odom said. “It tore him up that he couldn’t go play. He realizes, I think, as a lot of those guys do, there’s not much time left in their senior year. Yesterday he spent a lot of time in the training room and I’m sure has continued to do that today trying to get back to get ready to go. He will if he can. If there’s any chance at all he’ll be on the field.”
ODOM HONORS SCHERER
Odom used his weekly press conference as a chance to honor Scherer, who suffered a career-ending ACL injury against Middle Tennessee.
Scherer joined Odom at the opening of the coach’s session with reporters.
“We’re up game planning and just like he has since I’ve been here, in my different roles, especially last year,” Odom said. “Every Monday Michael Scherer would come in and spend some time with me and the defensive staff as we were putting together the plan. Somehow he ended up maintaining above a 3.0 GPA and graduating and all that good stuff. So nothing’s changed. It’s amazing. He comes in today and checks out the board to see the new calls we have going in.
“He’s a special guy to me. He’s a special guy to our program. It means the world to me all the things he’s done for this place. I’ve said it a number of times — I’ve got two sons and when they get to be Michael Scherer’s age if they act like him that I know I’ve absolutely done something right as a dad. I told him to come down here real quick. He’s got things to do. He’s gonna go study the game plan, I think. He’s trying to talk Rex (Sharp) into coming back and getting a few snaps. I wanted to make sure I had a chance to tell him thank you for everything he’s done for Mizzou and for me personally and our football program. Love him. He’ll be in there next Monday helping us game plan a little bit.”
ODOM ON THE OFFENSE
After Saturday’s loss, Odom said he would need to review the game film to get a better idea of what went wrong offensively against the Wildcats.
On Monday, he was asked again now that he had the benefit of watching it.
“Well, early on we didn’t play very well,” he said. “We were inconsistent and didn’t convert enough. We got down in the red zone and didn’t come away with points. The thing that we probably struggled with the most on Saturday was having the ability to run the ball and that took away from a lot of other things. We’ve got to have that in our favor.
“We don’t have to go rush for 250 yards but we have to able to take something off the pass game and, with our running attack, try to get some different things coverage-wise. But we weren’t able to get that established the other day. So we have to do a better job blocking, we have to do a better job of running and that will open things up offensively if we’re able to get that done. The times we’ve had success offensively we’ve been able to run the ball and we have to get that back.”
PRAISE FOR BEISEL
Eric Beisel, a redshirt junior linebacker, made his first career start Saturday with Scherer and Hall out of action.
“He did some good things,” Odom said. “It’s interesting because he sees it happening in front of him but there’s times that he needs to slow down just a little bit sometimes. He sees it and he almost beats it to the spot and it gets him out of position some. That’s a balance.
“He’s done a great job with film study, he’s a great, loyal person in the program, he’s done everything I’ve asked him to do, tremendous kid, and he’s good some football ability. Just be quick but don’t hurry — or whatever that saying is. He wants to go so fast. Let it play out a little bit sometimes. He’ll be better this week than he was, but he did do some good things on Saturday.”
Beisel had carved out a role on the Tigers’ special teams units before making his first career start.
“You look at what Eric’s done this year,” Odom said. “He’s been a starter on every special team. Kickoff return? Yes. Punt? Yes. Punt return. He’s been on them all. Kickoff. So he’s played a number of snaps of football just not defensive ball. But he’s a leader. He’s a leader in the weight room. He’s great in meeting rooms. I love the kid.”
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