As Barry Odom enters his third season as Missouri’s head football coach, the expectations are higher, his roster is more seasoned, and the schedule remains brutal.
In order for his team to garner any type of national attention this season, Odom will have to achieve something he has yet to accomplish, finish September with a winning record. In his first two seasons the Tigers have finished the opening month at 2-2 and 1-3, which quickly thwarted any excitement from fans and it has stamped the program with an undesirable label, mediocre.
Since entering the Southeastern Conference, Missouri has sought out respect from their new southern peers. After all, they were pretty successful in the Big 12.
This program has provided plenty of NFL talent from Shane Ray to Markus Golden and won a pair of SEC East titles in two out of their first three years in one of the toughest conferences in football. They were only one win away from reaching the National Championship in just their second season as a member of the SEC.
Critics argue the division was in a down period, but nevertheless the Tigers capitalized. Despite early success it still has not been enough to solidify Missouri with a stigma of respectability. We currently live in a culture where fans and media have amnesia with their main concern being, “What have you done for me lately?” That answer is for the majority underwhelming.
Under Odom’s brief tenure, Missouri is 11-14. Of those 11 wins, zero have been against ranked opponents, two have been against FCS competition, and three have been against the FBS “Group of Five”. To top it all off, none of Missouri’s six conference wins have been over a team above .500 in league play. Obviously, Odom has more than a few steps left for his program to become respectable by its peers.
Luckily, the Tigers are on the rise. Unlike most coaches in the SEC, Odom knows exactly what he has to work with in senior QB Drew Lock. Heading into his final season at Missouri, Lock has more career starts than anyone in the SEC by a wide margin. In his junior season, Lock broke the SEC single-season touchdown record with 44. He also led the nation in touchdown passes last year, the first time that’s ever been achieved by a Tiger quarterback.
However, there is a downside. He possesses a less than stellar career pass completion mark at 53.8%. In his previous two seasons against power five opponents, Lock threw 20 touchdowns along with 17 interceptions thrown. On the flip side, FCS and group of five competition has served well for Lock; 25 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. That’s the definition of misleading stats. Lock is 3-18 overall vs. teams that ended up finishing the season with a .500 record or better (2016 Eastern Michigan, 2016 Arkansas, and 2005 BYU. Let that sink in.
Do the pros outweigh the cons with Drew Lock under the helm? Can he get over the hump and beat a ranked foe? Will new offensive coordinator Derek Dooley be able to help Lock’s completion percentage? Can this team win 8 or 9 games?
Those are just a few of the many questions on the minds of Tiger fans. Quarterback play isn’t the only facet that determines the outcome of teams’ success, but it’s undeniably the most important. 2018 is an enormous season for that will dictate the future of Barry Odom and with such a talented, experienced quarterback, Mizzou has a great chance to make a significant upward impression on the programs perception.
Article written by Dave Zobrist