First-year Missouri coach Barry Odom took over the defense after a startling homecoming loss Oct. 22 against Middle Tennessee.
He stepped into a bigger role with game-planning and play-calling, but that also put a much bigger onus on his shoulders.
It also left him frustrated during Saturday’s 63-37 loss at Neyland Stadium, where Tennessee piled up 609 total yards and scored at will against Odom’s Tigers.
“Defensively, it’s a little unique for me,” he said. “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 when we needed it there in the second half. That’s hard to say out loud, but it’s the truth.”
Still, after focusing more on special teams during training camp and the first half of the season, Odom has enjoyed his expanded role with the defense and plans to carry it forward into the season.
“I’ve thought about it a lot, and it’s the best thing for the program I think and the best thing for me,” he said. “I need to coach, so I’ll be involved.”
That shouldn’t be taken as a knock on his handpicked defensive coordinator, DeMontie Cross, or co-defensive coordinator Ryan Walters, who came with Odom from Memphis before the 2015 season.
Odom said he “absolutely” hopes his entire staff will return in 2017 and that Cross, in particular, remains a trusted confidant.
“We’ll work together as the defensive staff always does to formulate a game plan,” Odom said. “We lean on each other a lot with the schematics and calls throughout the game. That won’t change.”
Harris declines senior-day inclusion
Mizzou’s game against Arkansas on Friday might be Charles Harris’ last in black and gold, but he doesn’t want a big fuss about it.
Odom offered him the chance to participate in senior day activities, giving the crowd a chance to honor Harris one final time (possibly) on the field, but the 6-foot-3, 260-pound junior defensive end from Lincoln Prep in Kansas City, Mo., declined.
“We talked about if he wanted to take part in (senior day) and I said, ‘Even if you do take part in it, it doesn’t mean you can’t come back. We’ll let you after you go through all the decision-making process and get all the information,’” Odom said. “But he said, ‘Right now, I don’t want to take part in it.’”
Odom told Harris — who ranks seventh in Tigers history with 18 career sacks, including a team-high eight this season with 12 tackles for a loss — to sleep on the decision and left the door open for him to change his mind.
“If he wants to do it, then we’ll recognize him and honor him,” Odom said. “If he wants to do it then come back and play again, that’s all right too.”
Odom said he’s OK if Harris, a projected first-round NFL Draft pick whenever he leaves, gets two senior days.
Freshman defensive tackle Markell Utsey is done for the season with a left knee injury. Results of an MRI on Monday weren’t available, Odom said, but Utsey won’t play Friday against Arkansas.
Sophomore Josh Moore, an Olathe North graduate, is listed as Rickey Hatley’s backup on the depth chart.
Meanwhile, sophomore center Sam Bailey remains day-to-day with a sprained right ankle.
“He should be better this week than he was last week ...,” Odom said of Bailey. “He’s trying.”
Redshirt freshman Jonah Dubinski played 117 snaps, including special teams, last week in Bailey’s absence.
Volleyball snags two SEC awards
Mizzou junior outside hitter Melanie Crow and sophomore middle blocker Alyssa Munlyn were both honored Monday by the Southeastern Conference.
Crow, a transfer from Mississippi, was chosen as the SEC offensive player of the week for the third time this season and Munlyn was the SEC defensive player of the week after helping the Tigers sweep Auburn and then-No. 5 Florida.
Crow averaged 4.67 kills per set and hit .352 last week, topping 20 kills in both matches, while Munlyn had nine kills with no errors against Auburn and recorded a match-best nine blocks against the Gators.