Barry Odom after Tuesday’s practice
Missouri has wrapped up preseason football camp, and attention now turns to the season opener Aug. 31 at Wyoming. Here are 15 observations from camp about the Tigers’ personnel and coaching staff.
The defense should be better: Cale Garrett and Nick Bolton appear to have the linebacker spots locked down and Missouri’s secondary gave quarterback Kelly Bryant plenty of fits the past few weeks. Jordan Elliott was limited at times because of injury, but everyone on the team has bought in on him. It would be a shock if he doesn’t have a good year.
Speaking of Bryant: He had a fine camp but there’s only so many takeaways you can make from watching routine drills and an intentionally vanilla offense. We’ll see how comfortable he is with the offense at Wyoming.
The receiving and running backs corps have guys, but not dudes, yet: There’s a difference. Larry Rountree is a dude. Tyler Badie is heading that direction, too. Simi Bakare played last year and looked good, but it was a small sample size. Jalen Knox could have a huge year, as could Jonathan Nance, but right now there’s a lot of guys at that position, but none are really established. My picks for wideouts who will contribute: Knox, Nance, Kam Scott, Maurice Massey, Barrett Bannister, Johnathon Johnson and Dom Gicinto.
Barry Odom is comfortable: That couldn’t be said a few years ago. He seems relaxed in his own skin and with the job. It shows and should make everything else come a little easier.
Don’t sleep on cornerback Richaud Floyd: I expect him to play. He looked really good in camp and I’m sure knowing Dooley’s offense made that easier, but he knows how to play wide receiver and now his nightly assignment is to lock them down. He has an advantage that not many do. Props to him for moving to the other side of the ball to do what’s best for the team.
This coaching staff is very tight: Odom has said before that he doesn’t want coaches with one foot out the door, and this is a group that has great chemistry. Tight ends coach A.J. Ofodile was with Odom at Rock Bridge. Defensive coordinator Ryan Walters followed him from Memphis. Derek Dooley grew up going to football camp with David Gibbs when their fathers coached at Georgia together. This is a group where the relationships are deeper than Odom’s earlier staffs.
Maurice Massey could make SEC all-freshman team: He’s by the far one of the most impressive freshmen from camp. He makes catches the other wideouts simply don’t. He’s 6-foot-3 and fully understands how to maximize his frame. He’s a different kind of receiver for MU. If he adjusts properly he could become a major red zone weapon.
The other freshmen: Niko Hea, Martez Manuel, Jalani Williams, Stacey Brown, Darius Robinson and Thalon Robinson are all expected to burn their redshirts. Hea is just a sound tight end. Doesn’t make many mistakes and is hard on himself when he does. Brown looks the part. Williams does too, but has to gain some more muscle. Manuel is an amazing athlete and was a track star in high school. He’s my dark-horse pick for surprise freshman.
Another freshman to watch is: Tailback Anthony Watkins. He looks the part physically, but with three guys ahead of him he is unlikely to play much. But Odom burned Bakare’s redshirt late last season. Does history repeat itself? MU has had a true freshman running back gain at least 400 yards every year during Odom’s tenure. History is on Watkins’ side.
I haven’t mentioned Albert O: He was limited for most of camp, but I expect him to be fine. If he’s not playing at Wyoming, then Odom has some explaining to do.
Tucker McCann is pulling double-duty: He’s the punter and kicker for now. I don’t expect that to last all season, but for now that’s the plan. MU has some walk-ons in the mix, but no one has been able to unseat him.
Speaking of special teams: It’s hard for Mizzou to be worse in 2019 than 2018. MU was ranked 126th of 127 FBS teams in punt returns last fall. The only way to go is up. Can’t really get a gauge for that in camp.
I have no idea what Tre Williams will bring to the table: Brick Haley said the goal in early August was getting him in game shape. Then he’ll worry about getting him able to play the whole year. I’m very curious to see where he lands on the depth chart next week and what he looks like in Wyoming.
An offensive player to keep an eye on: Here’s two. Daniel Parker and Hyrin White. I think Parker is going to have a great year and White will have a smooth transition to starter on the offensive line.
A defensive player to keep an eye on: Aubrey Miller. I think he’s going to play a lot.