Barry Odom (Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports)

Mizzou Media Day Notebook

Some news and notes from Missouri coach Barry Odom's weekly Monday press conference...

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri football coach Barry Odom met with reporters on Monday afternoon for his weekly press conference and quickly addressed the Sunday arrest of freshman running back Damarea Crockett.

Crockett was arrested on Sunday morning, just hours after breaking the school’s freshman rushing record, for alleged misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Odom said he will not play this week. 

“I put out the depth chart and got all that out before I had all the information with the incident and all the facts,” Odom said. “We’re aware of the incident involving Damarea. With all the discipline issues we’re going to address it internally and handle it that way. But if you have an arrest during the season, you are suspended for at least the next game.”

Crockett ran for 225 yards and a touchdown in Missouri’s 63-37 loss at Tennessee on Saturday. His 1,062 rushing yards this season broke the freshman rushing record set by quarterback Brad Smith in 2002 and are the fourth most in the Southeastern Conference.

According to media reports, police officers found Crockett in a vehicle in a parking lot on the east side of the Missouri campus at 4:17 a.m. Sunday. He was arrested — possession of fewer than 35 grams of marijuana is a Class A misdemeanor — issued a summons and released.

“Damarea’s done a lot of great things and he’s going to have a tremendous future,” Odom said. “He realizes one decision obviously affects this football program and it affects him. It’s the discipline of doing everything right every day. That’s where we’re at.”

MORE WITTER AND STRONG

Odom said with Crockett being out for Friday’s game the Tigers will lean on junior Ish Witter and sophomore Nate Strong at running back against Arkansas

Last year’s leading rusher, Witter has rushed for 738 yards, averaging 4.7 yards per game, and six touchdowns this season. He’s also caught six passes for 50 yards. 

“Ish did a great job the other night,” Odom said. “I’m proud of what Ish has done this year. He’s fought through some injuries. He runs with more energy, with a little more purpose than he has. He’s done a good job.”

Strong, a junior college transfer, was limited earlier in the season by a high-ankle sprain. He had a season-high eight carries against Tennessee and ran for 39 yards. For the season, he has 15 carries for 85 yards, a 5.7 average, and one reception for seven yards.

“I thought Nate did some good things the other day for sure,”  Odom said. “Still, I said right after the game, I think he’s got a really bright future ahead of him. He’s got size, he’s got speed. He’s getting an understanding of the tempo and pace of the game. We’ll rely on those two obviously heavily. Alex (Ross) will get some work this week throughout practice and we’ll see where that ends up as well.”

PRAISE FOR THE OFFENSIVE LINE

Odom made sure to note the performance of the offensive line against Tennessee.

“Really we had 117 snaps, 110 of those were executed without penalty,” Odom said. “So really 117 snaps on offense. Jonah Dubinski, Paul Adams, Kevin Pendleton, Adam PloudreTyler Howell played every snap on the offensive line. That’s extremely hard to do at any position, specifically that one, and that stands out to me on just a great level of teamwork and Coach (Glen) Elarbee and the guys on that side of the ball did an outstanding job in their production. Those five guys, to play that many snaps and to play as well as they did, they did a lot of things right. So I commend that.

The Tigers gained 740 yards of total offense against the Volunteers — just four yards shy of tying the school record — with 42o yards rushing. 

Dubinski, a redshirt walk-on from Columbia (Mo.) Rock Bridge High School, made his first career start at center with Samson Bailey out with an injury. Ploudre, a redshirt junior who arrived at Missouri as a walk on but received a scholarship a few months ago, has now started six games after Alec Abeln suffered an ankle injury.

“He’s a smart kid,” Odom said of Dubinski. “It means a lot to him. I think he’s got, without question, he’s got a role moving forward with this program that he can be a good player.”  

DEFENSIVE FRUSTRATIONS

Odom admitted to being frustrated by the Tigers inability to stop Tennessee in the second half on Saturday. 

The Volunteers led by five points early in the fourth quarter following a Missouri field goal, but then scored 28 points in the final quarter (including an interception returned for a touchdown) to pull away from the Tigers.

“Defensively it was a little unique for me,” said Odom, who took over calling the defense a few weeks ago. “I haven’t been in a situation where I couldn’t get a stop. As a play-caller, I couldn’t come up with one there when I needed it in the second half. That’s hard to say out loud but it’s the truth. Credit to Tennessee. They did a great job, as they have the previous two or three weeks, running the football and I couldn’t come up with a stop, couldn’t come up with a way to get another possession back for our offense. So that’s frustrating.”

FRESHMAN DT UTSEY INJURED

Odom said true freshman defensive tackle Markell Utsey suffered a knee injury against Tennessee and will miss this Friday’s game. 

“Utsey, he’s done for the year unfortunately,” the coach said. “Had a knee injury so he won’t be able to play this week.” 

Utsey and Crockett are both true freshmen from Little Rock, Ark., and neither will be able to play against the hometown Razorbacks.

“Markell, he’s 307 pounds and he’s got great quickness and strength for a freshman. He’s going to be a very good player. Whatever the injury is will be a setback for him but he’ll bounce back and he’s going to be a really good player. For Damarea, I want him to focus on getting back and learning from his mistake.”

PREVIEWING ARKANSAS

Odom was asked what the biggest challenges were with facing the Arkansas offense.

“They are kind of like they were last year,” Odom said. “Up front they are very well-coached. The size, they want to ground you up and they run power. Their back, (Rawleigh) Williams, is running extremely well. They’re giving him room to do it. Play-action game. The things they are able to do. Run it, run it, run it and then play-action and hit you. 

“They’ve got a good skill set all across the board. Schematically I like what they do. I like the way that they play the game. Credit to how they’ve established that. They’ve recruited that, they’ve had time to do that and they’ve built their roster on the way that they wanted to run an offense like that. If you are the least bit not gap-sound they find it pretty quickly. If you don’t get a guy at the point of attack and you don’t tackle, it will end up being a long day.”

Arkansas, which is coming off a 58-42 win at Mississippi State, is averaging 31.5 points and 432 total yards per game. 

Quarterback Austin Allen, a redshirt junior, has thrown for 2,804 yards, with 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Running back Rawleigh Williams III, a sophomore, has rushed for 1,209 yards, averaging 5.8 yards per carry, and 11 touchdowns. He also has 13 catches for 175 yards and a touchdown. 

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

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