Missouri Football Coach Barry Odom Press Conference Transcript Nov. 7

Here's what Missouri coach Barry Odom said when he spoke with reporters on Monday.

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri Tigers football coach Barry Odom met with reporters for his weekly press conference on Monday. 

Here is a transcript of what Odom said...

Opening statement…

“Since the conclusion of the game Saturday night, we got that one evaluated and looked at all the things that we think we can do better on all three phases of the game. There were some times that we felt like we were in the game, even late, and got to the point where we had an opportunity to win it. We just didn’t play well enough down the stretch to do that. We got out of it fairly healthy. I think we can get a couple guys back, specifically Donavin Newsom, this week, play him a little bit more which would be great for us. The other day with the linebacker injuries and then Cale Garrett getting the targeting call there early, Don Barnes, ran out, our equipment guy, and gave me a pair of cleats in case we had one more down I think I was going in. So it would have been ugly but we would have made it work. T.J. Warren stepped in again and played really well at the SAM spot and then Eric Beisel did a really nice job. He and Joey Burkett and Brandon Lee, those guys there inside, they ended up finishing the game out. Up front I thought defensively we played better than we have the last couple weeks. I think the run fits were a little bit cleaner. I think we’ll be better this week than we were last. Then offensively we did some really good things. We turned the ball over play five, which hurt us, gave them a short field. I think there were six times we got inside the 50 and came away with zero points. That’s hard to do to win a game. Defensively we didn’t get any turnovers and offensively   we gave it up three times. There aren’t going to be many times that this team can be minus-3 and have a chance to win a game. We have to continue to work. Had a meeting last night with our team and really, for me and our staff, everything that I can do and we can do for these guys, for our seniors, the next three weeks, that’s my sole focus, making sure that we do everything we can to give them an opportunity to have success. From an injury standpoint, whoever’s ready to go, we’ll get 11 guys ready to play and the guys behind them, their backups, will be obviously a huge part over the next three weeks to do everything we can. I talked the other night at length about Donavin Newsom and I feel very strongly about him. There’s some things with him. He’s fighting through an injury, wants to help this team, wants to help this program. There were some things with Donavin in the recruiting process. I knew his coach, Bob Bunton, a number of years ago because he was Aaron O’Neal’s head coach. So that situation for me is very up close and personal. There’s a lot of similarities between Donavin and Aaron. Playing the same position. Same high school coach. Kind of the same demeanor. The other day when Donnie couldn’t go as much as he wanted, that was a tough one because he’s an important part of our program and has done so much. I know from not too long ago being a senior and getting hurt during your senior year, that’s hard. And things don’t go exactly how you want them to go your final year. I can relate. It drives me every day to do everything I can to get us in position to go win a game for those guys. They’ve done a lot for me, that class specifically, since Dec. 4 and I want nothing more than to be able to provide them an opportunity to celebrate in the locker room after Saturday’s game and then regroup and play as good as we can the next week and then the following week. That’s where I am. That’s our focus. I’ve got strong conviction on trying to get that done.”

On what’s left to play for…

“Anytime that you’ve invested a lot of time and effort and all the different things that go into it, anytime you’ve invested in something that you care deeply about, you want to be successful, you want to have success. Success is measured in a lot of different ways in college sports. I’m judged on wins and losses. That’s it. I understand that. We haven’t been successful in that area. There’s a lot of really great things going on within our program. We’re making progress in a lot of areas. There’s some bright spots. I’m ready for that to turn into a win. I know that. For us last night it was a challenge for me looking at myself and our coaching staff and the rest of our team to do everything we can right today and then let’s turn that into having a great Tuesday and Wednesday for us to send our seniors out on a good feeling. I think we care enough about each other that we’ll fight and claw and scratch to go get that done. I wanted it to happen seven weeks ago but we’re not there yet. It’s a tough process, but we’ll get there. I want it to happen now and so does everyone else. I understand that. Also there’s guys that care deeply about their teammates and this program and this place and they’re obviously not happen with the way the season has gone, disappointed in the win-loss record, but we’ll have a great week. I’m not concerned about that. There’s disappointment. You never sit at the beginning of the year and say, yeah, we’re gonna win this one but we won’t win that one. You don’t do that. But we did talk about as a goal, as a team, is to try to play better each week. If we can get every person to play to their skill set, to their level, then we’ve done something right. We’ve done that at times. We just haven’t done that consistent enough. I’m a creature of habit I guess. We started on Vandy late Saturday night and got into them, have a pretty good game plan going and anxious to get back out on the field tomorrow. Still for me the funnest part of the day is every afternoon when you get to be around your kids in the locker room and get out on the field from 2:30 to 5:30 every day. So I have to change to come down to this. I’m usually in a sweatshirt and have a whistle and ballcap on. That’s the most enjoyable part and it will never change. Those are good things. We’ll have a great Tuesday practice. I told them it will be pretty clear to see on our academic report today are we holding onto the rope or are we going to let go. But we’ll be alright.”

On zero margin for error putting burden of perfection on Drew Lock and the offense… 

“It probably does but also that’s OK. You’re never going to be perfect but by God let’s work to get there. Let’s work to not make a mistake but when we do, if we throw an interception or fumble the ball, defensively, guess what, you have to go get one. Find a way to get the ball back. Get us an extra possession back. That’s just being a competitor. Is it undue pressure? Yeah. Probably so. That’s alright. The mental toughness that we have to be able to withstand some of that stuff, that’s part of it too.”

On Lock being a sophomore but also having started 17 games…

“At this point really with Cale Garrett and with a bunch of the quote-unquote young guys, I’m throwing age out the window. We have to do a great job coaching them. We’ve got to eliminate mistakes at every position for us to have a chance. The quarterback position has done some really good things this year and then there’s throws you want back. Until we overcome that — from the receivers running the right routes, the quarterback making the right read, us calling the right play, the offensive line protecting the way we need to — we’ll still strive to get there. There’s been times we look pretty darn good and then there’s been times that what are we doing. That’s part of the process that I’ve understood now that is going to take for us to get into position to win a game because we’re not talented enough and our guys know that. We’ve got to embrace the opportunity and the fact that we’re going to go will it out of us to go get one.”

On the offense only using half the field at times…

“There’s a lot of things going into the offensive play call. No. 1, if we want to work a specific side of the field, that goes into the call, that goes into the game plan. If we see where somebody’s lined up on the other side, if we think we can work that side of it. There’s also pre-snap reads and calls within. Once we make a call we want to try to look and see what we’re getting defensively and then maybe adjust from there. Then we want to work with some of the things we can get from throwing the ball on one side of the field and maybe taking advantage of it. So there’s a lot of things that go into that and in some cases that is right — that we’re working just one side of the field or the middle and then there’s times that both sides are hot on the route concept. So within a call there’s going to be two or three other checks that we’ve got out of it that we think can be a positive play for us. Are we right all the time? No. We’re not. But we’re working to do everything we can to get the right call versus the right look and then the right read and then 11 guys doing the same thing they need to do.”

On Lock’s interception after reviewing the film…

“The call had a couple different options. They rotated the safeties one way and the read he got didn’t take him to the right spot. We had an option there to the left that would have probably been a positive play. That’s one you’d like to have back. We didn’t get it. That kid for South Carolina made a nice play.”

On if this offense can be successful in the SEC…

“I think if you look statistically we’ve been pretty good on offense. We have to do it more consistently. That would be good. We will evolve a lot offensively with some roster management things we’re going to do. We’ve got an opportunity to be a really good offensive team. We’ve got really two guys on that side of the ball that are seniors. Everybody else will be back, which is exciting. We’ll still, over the next three weeks, really work to become an efficient offensive team. I’ve said a number of times, when we can run the football it opens up a lot of things for us. A lot goes into that. Point of attack. How many guys they’ve got blocking. How many guys they’ve got in the box. Then can we get a hat on a hat and find a way to run the ball efficiently. That opens up everything. I’m still in favor of handing it to (Josh) Augusta every play.”

On Cam Hilton moving from defense to offense and back…

“He’s an athletic kid. I knew he had the skill set to probably do both. He’s been able to do that. His football I.Q. is pretty high. For us defensively he’s probably played as good or better than everybody defensively the past two weeks. So that’s promising to see. As most young guys with experience they get better as they get reps and he’s definitely falling into that category. He’s doing a lot of really good things. There’s a lot of things when you’re playing defensive back, and safety especially, your eyes better be in the right spot. If they are not and you have one misstep the other band is playing. So he’s done a really nice job. Coach (Ryan) Walters has done a great job coaching the last couple of weeks. He’s got a chance to continue to develop and I think be a really, really good player.”

On Corey Fatony kicking field goals…

“He can’t. I wish he could. He’ll give it a shot, but he’s doing a heckuva job punting the ball. He, the other night, flipped the field a couple times. He’s disappointed in himself, if we get there around midfield and we punt the ball, he’s disappointed if he doesn’t pin it inside the 5. That’s pretty good. I know some guys that have a golf swing that they are disappointed in some of those things. He’s kind of like that. He can put the right spin on the ball and place it where he wants it. That’s a pretty good skill to have. But he has not been a kicker.”

On if a player who hasn’t taken care of his off-the-field stuff to start, like Tucker McCann, what’s the rationale of playing him later…

“I thought he served enough. I told him he wasn’t going to start. We were watching pre-game wise see how that went. He kicked pretty good in pre-game. There’s been a couple times this year that we haven’t started a guy because of whatever reason throughout the week and then during the course of the game they played. It’s no different then any other position.”

On the kicking situation and not knowing what he’s getting when he sends a guy out there…

“Today no I don’t. We’re going to continue to work on it. Those two field goals obviously were big points in the game but also they are one play. You’d like to obviously have those six points. I know that. It’s also the momentum that goes along with it. It’s good for them, bad for us. The ability to go out and kick a whatever-yard field goal it was, you’d like to have that in your back pocket. That offensively you know if you get to the 23-yard line, we’re getting three points. We’ve got to get to that point that if the snap is right and the hold is right the kick goes between the uprights. We’re not there and that’s frustrating.”

On if that impacts how they approach the offense…

“Absolutely. We’ve got to score. If you don’t score six you better find a way to get three. There’s been times we’ve called timeout and you’ve probably seen (Josh) Heupel and I walking, looking, where is the ball. There’s decisions to be made there. What do you feel good about offensively if it’s fourth and two from the chances of getting that first down or lining up and kicking it. It’s great if you make it, it’s great if you go get the first down on fourth down and absolutely foolish if you don’t.”

On differences between kicking in college and evaluating high school kickers…

“I believe Tucker’s going to have a great career here. I have no doubts about that. He’s a tremendous talent. We have to get it where it happens every day, throughout the week of practice and then in a game, in a real live situation. He’ll get there. I don’t doubt that at all. You look at evaluating kickers in high school, a lot of them still kick off a block. That’s not the case in college football. You kick off the ground. All the different kicking surfaces  at camps throughout the country. You just have to find out all the information you can, find out if that translates into being a successful guy on Saturdays. I feel good about his career. I know he’s going to bounce back. I have a lot of confidence in him. We need it to happen now.”

On Eric Beisel and what’s led to his success… 

“He’s played pretty well the last two weeks. He understands the playbook. I would guess, if you guys walked outside right now, I bet he’s on field 1 going through drills by himself. That’s what he does on Monday. He’s got a routine. He goes through extra footwork drills by himself. He’ll either be in my office upstairs after he’s done with that or one of the position rooms watching film. He enjoys playing the game. He’s passionate about being a really good player. He cares about the University of Missouri. He wants Mizzou football to have success. All that together doesn’t automatically make you a good player but he’s putting it all together, he’s playing well, he’s playing fast. Sometimes we have to tell him to slow down just a little bit because he gets out of position a little bit. I’m proud of him and I anticipate him having three really good weeks coming up.”

On differences for the linebackers with the recent change in schemes…

“It depends on the call. I know that’s not the answer you’re looking for. There’s times that it will be definitely a gap responsibility — get in it, go take it — and there will be times that obviously the way, even long ago when I was playing, you look at the triangle, you read the guards to the near back. That’s some of the things we’ve incorporated, some of the things DeMontie (Cross) did, some things we’re doing now together. There’s a lot of similarities with those guys. We always talk about, in the box there, those guys take six-inch steps, take a read step, get it determined and then you have to get there. There’s not a lot of room for making a misread the way that we’re playing. But within the coverages we have help. They have to know where, if they’re going to go take a shot, where their help is coming from. We were a little better last week. They have a feel for it. Once you learn how to ride a bicycle you’ve always got it. Last week was better than the week before. This week will be better than last week on some of the fits. So you get back in the groove of it.”

On the linebacker depth affecting what they can do defensively…

“I feel pretty good about Cale (Garrett) and Eric and then Brandon (Lee) and Joey (Burkett), just their football I.Q. We’re spending a lot of time together. They are tired of me, I know. They understand those are really two really important positions. If you throw Newsom out there, just with his experience, that’s going to help us too. He understands it. Those two guys, they have to be right and that’s on me to get that done and make sure they’re right. They get the front set and then they have to get lined up right. They’ve got the opportunity though to go get that done. I’m not real smart so we’re not going to make it very difficult. You can draw anything up on the board that you want and it looks nice and fancy and oh that’s great but if they can’t do it then you’re not a very good coach.”

On Charles Harris handling high expectations…

“He’s doing alright. He wants more, which most great competitors do. I don’t know that he’ll ever be satisfied with his production or where he is. We talked a little bit last night just on where we’re at and what I need him to do here in the next three weeks — just go be him, don’t try to do too much. That’s an easy thing to do with a guy that’s a pretty good player is to try to do too much. He played very well the other night and I think he’ll play  really well this week.” 

On having the NFL talk with Harris at some point…

“I think it would be wise to do, yeah. He’s a talented kid and luckily now they’ve got the advisory committee set up that can help us navigate through that a little bit. But anytime within a tight group you’re always going to have conversations. I know what I want him to do. I want him to be successful and do what’s right for him. We started some discussion last night and that will continue on. He’s a mature kid, he’s got a lot of people helping him. Mizzou does a great job within the athletic department on providing resources that help kids through that process. He knows where I stand on it.”

On Tyler Howell's roundabout journey to getting to Missouri…

“You better do a great job on throughout the recruiting process, especially for a junior college guy. No. 1, why is he there? When, academically, is he going to be able to graduate and then does he make progress towards that? He’s done a really nice job since January. He’s developed. He’s transformed his body in a positive way. He’s played pretty well every game. He’s got a chance to be a special player. Physically he’s got a lot of tools that not many have and then combine that with he’s got pretty good feet and I think another offseason in our program will help him tremendously on his strength and obviously his quickness. I wish we would have had him a little bit longer but he’s done a good job in the time he’s been here on just working his way into that position and I think he’s gonna end up being a guy that can be a game changer at that spot.”

On reemphasizing Texas again in recruiting and how receptive the recruits have been there…

“It’s been really positive and I think a lot of that is you can point to guys that have come to the University of Missouri that have had success from Texas. Then you can look at the opportunity that our brand, within our conference, plays. There’s allure to that. The end of the day, with most everything, it comes down to true, really caring relationships. High school coaches know a lot of guys on our staff and spend a lot of time with them. They know what they are getting out of me. They know what they are getting out of our assistant coaches. Then the opportunity to go achieve everything that you want to achieve in your college career we can get done here and we will get done here. If we can get kids on campus we’re gonna have a shot. That’s exciting for me moving forward because I know what this place is and I know what it’s going to be. When Mizzou was having great success we had a lot of guys from that state on our roster and we’ll get back there.”

On Texas, besides in-state, being the most important state for recruiting…

“We have to do a great job recruiting there because just because there’s so many kids and they play football 365 and they’re really well coached. Obviously within the state (of Missouri) in the next couple of years and it’s always going to be like this but specifically the next two years it’s as great a group of high school recruits as there have been and that’s important for us obviously. Then you look in the state of Texas and the relationships we’ve got throughout the state in all the different areas, we can make a run here and we’ll get some of those kids. Chicago is going to be a good area for us and has been in the past and will be. It’s too close and there’s too many players up there that want to be in the SEC, that want to be a part of this program. We’ll get in that area a little bit as well.”

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

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