Odom rides Memphis success back to alma mater
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) Barry Odom has returned to familiar surroundings, and he's happy to be back.
Glancing at Odom's recent track record, Missouri football fans may have cause to be happy, too.
Odom was an assistant under coach Gary Pinkel from 2003-11, serving in a variety of roles.
''I have a tremendous responsibility,'' Odom said. ''It's my responsibility that things are done right. There's a lot of people that have invested a lot of time, energy, and sweat equity into this place long before me, and I want them to be proud of the product we put on the field.''
Missouri fans will get their first look at Odom's defense on Sept. 5 when the Tigers open at home against Southeast Missouri State. The Tigers have won the SEC East in consecutive seasons and were 11-3 last year capped by a Citrus Bowl victory over Minnesota.
Odom graduated from Missouri in 1999 and was once a member of the defense he will now lead. From 1996 to 1999, the Ada, Okla. native was a standout middle linebacker under former coach Larry Smith.
In three seasons at Memphis, Odom helped improve a defense ranked 117th in 2011 to 22nd in the nation last year with 343 yards allowed per game. The Tigers were fifth in scoring defense, allowing 17.3 points.
Missouri was 23rd nationally in total defense last year, allowing 346 yards per game, and 19th in scoring defense, giving up 21 points per game.
Since it was announced near the end of 2014 that Steckel would leave Missouri for his first head coaching job, questions surfaced regarding scheme changes, including a possible switch from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4, which Odom used at Memphis.
''I don't feel like he has changed it that much,'' said senior safety Ian Simon, named one of four team captains on Thursday.
''The same intensity level, the same `get after it' attitude, the same `work hard every day' attitude that (Steckel) had, coach Odom definitely has.''
Missouri's strength defensively is reflected in its NFL representation. Six linemen have been drafted in the NFL the last five years, including Shane Ray with the 10th overall pick by the Broncos and Markus Golden in the second round by the Cardinals this May.
Focus the past few seasons has been on the likes of Ray, Kony Ealy and Michael Sam, but this year the line has a major absence. Defensive tackle Harold Brantley sustained multiple injuries in a car accident in June, sidelining him for the 2015 season.
''Roster management always changes,'' Odom said. ''As soon as you relax, and you think `Well, I've got things kind of set in place,' it never works out that way. You're always moving and thinking and trying to put pieces together to make it fit.''
There's more experience at linebacker. Senior linebacker Kentrell Brothers also was named a captain.
''They definitely expect me to be a better leader,'' said Brothers, who had 122 tackles last season, including five for loss. ''This year, I need to do a better job of getting everybody going, starting fast and finishing strong, and definitely being more vocal.''
Odom said he'll be relying on Brothers.
''He's played a lot of snaps,'' Odom said. ''He's got a good feel for his position and his responsibilities. I wouldn't trade experience for anything.''