Notebook: Missouri looks to keep edge on bye week

The Tigers are 0-3 following bye weeks during Barry Odom’s tenure.
Coach Barry Odom looks up at the video screen as a play is reviewed during Missouri's Sept. 21 game against South Carolina. Odom is in his fourth year with Missouri. Madeline Carter

Since taking over as Missouri’s football coach in 2016, Barry Odom has not won a game following a bye week.

Given the small sample size of three games, Odom could reasonably chalk up Missouri’s recent lack of success in the category to coincidence, but he isn’t taking any chances.

“I don’t know if there’s a common thread, other than we’ve lost, so [we] changed it up this week on our approach and treatment,” he said in a press conference Tuesday. “From a staff standpoint, we treated it a lot different. Typically, we’ve been on the road recruiting pretty quickly. We’re gonna stay in-house all week this week, get out at the very end of the week. And then, the way that we’ve practiced, we did some good-on-good today and we’ll do it again tomorrow.”

In addition to Odom’s new philosophy of staying put during the gameless week, another change from previous bye weeks is the practice style. Winners of their last three games, the Tigers have continued to practice the same way they do in any other week, something they hope will prevent any complacency or rustiness when they take the field against Troy on Oct. 5.

“If you just kind of think it’s a bye week and we can relax a little bit, then that’s all you’re gonna get out of it, but I think we’re taking it as an opportunity to get better,” senior linebacker Cale Garrett said. “It’s always been about us, whether we’re playing an opponent on Saturday or not, so we look to improve like we have every week so far this year and get better.”

This season, all Power 5 teams have two bye weeks, a result of 14 Saturdays between Labor Day and Thanksgiving instead of the usual 13. Missouri’s next bye week will be after its Oct. 26 game against Kentucky.

Defense continues to impress

After Wyoming dropped 37 points on Missouri in Week 1, the Tiger defense has given up just 21 combined in over the next three games. In that span, it’s forced seven turnovers and scored 28 points of its own.

Missouri has also had two SEC Defensive Players of the Week in that span: sophomore linebacker Nick Bolton for his Week 2 performance against West Virginia and Garrett after recording nine tackles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown against South Carolina. Despite the individual accolades, safety Khalil Oliver emphasized the importance of contributions from all 11 players on the field.

“I think everybody just realizing that they don’t need to do anything special,” Oliver said. “They just need to do their job and people are gonna make plays. I think everybody’s realizing that we’ve got playmakers all over the field and you don’t need to be a hero out there. You just need to do your job.”

Injury update

While Missouri has managed to minimize any significant health concerns through the first four weeks of the season, the bye week provided an opportunity for players to recover from any nagging injuries, an opportunity Odom said his team badly needed.

“We needed it,” Odom said. “Just from a physical health standpoint, we needed it. We felt like going into last week, we had a band-aid on a lot of things health-wise and we were able to get through the game and play well, so it comes at a great time.”

Odom also discussed the more serious injuries that have plagued the Tigers. While sophomore defensive end Trajan Jeffcoat practiced on Tuesday and will likely play against Troy after being sidelined for the first four games with an injured elbow, Odom anticipates junior linebacker Aubrey Miller Jr. to be out for the season with a knee injury.

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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