Your Missouri Tigers are young on the football’s offensive side, but steadily improving according to head coach Barry Odom. Odom knows tough play up front is paramount to SEC success and says his budding offensive line knows as well.
“We understand that in every game that we play it’s going to be a lie of scrimmage game. And your success…goes on how you protect the quarterback and how you run-block,” Odom recently told Bernie Miklasz. “They’re taking that attitude on, wanting to be good.
“Just because of our depth, we’ve had to cross-train some guys at different spots (on the line). I like the group with the way that they’re working and coming together.”
Odom brought in Glen Elarbee in January to coach up the youthful line, citing coaching against Elarbee’s Arkansas State lines as always tough going up against.
“They’ve improved more than any group on the football team…Glen Elarbee’s done a great job,” Odom added. “I think he’s one of the best in the business…I’ve coached against him the last three years…They were well-coached and they played with toughness.”
The Tiger o-line must duplicate that toughness if sophomore quarterback Drew Lock is going to be successful in 2016. Lock’s freshman growing pains are well documented after being tossed in the flames prematurely, something his head coach believes could be beneficial.
“His experiences were not great last year,” Odom said. “He’ll be the first one to tell you he didn’t have a very good year, but also, he’s taken those things that he learned from a bad situation and he’s able to apply them.
“Drew’s got the physical skill set to be a really, really high-level guy. (Offensive coordinator) Josh Heupel has done a great job of working on his footwork, his vision, his reads, his in-pocket presence, and his commanding of leadership in the huddle and in the locker room.”
The Tigers kick off the 2016 campaign 11 am local time at West Virginia, a team with an experienced and vertical offense. Mountaineers senior quarterback Skyler Howard threw for 3,145 yards in 2015 to go with 26 touchdowns. Coach Odom has taken note.
“I’m impressed with (Howard). He’s a returning starter. They’ve got a number of returning starters on the offensive side,” Odom said. “They’re an experienced group on that side…They want to play fast. Their receivers are a tremendous group that are going to try to go downtown.”
“They’re going to go to play-action and they’re going to run vertical routes. They do a great job of placing the ball. Their receivers have a good feel for that.”
The first-year head coach is hoping the season opener will be an eye-opener for his players that they can use for growth as fall turns over to winter.
“We’ve got such a tremendous challenge. We’re able to focus on ourselves. We’re traveling 70 guys and it’s us going on a mission to play as good as we can,” Odom said. “We’ll always take lessons from this first week and we’ll use it going into the next week and on down the road…It’s an opportunity for us to become closer as a team.”