Missouri coach Barry Odom encourages his team

Missouri coach Barry Odom encourages his team while it remained tied 14-14 with Vanderbilt entering the fourth quarter Oct. 19 at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee. Missouri will take on Kentucky on Saturday.

Missouri football coach Barry Odom wants the re-opening of Missouri-Kansas to extend past men’s basketball.

“It’s something that I think would benefit our student-athletes, the experience that they have in college, and also it would be great for both fan bases,” Odom said Tuesday.

Among those people are Odom’s two sons, one of whom is a freshman in high school. The other is an eighth grader.

“I want them to be able to play Kansas,” Odom said. “I think that’s a big deal. I mean, you live in Missouri. That’s what you want.”

Odom didn’t grow up in Missouri, but once he started playing for the Tigers in 1996, it didn’t take long for him to appreciate and enjoy the rivalry. The favorite memories he listed of Missouri versus Kansas include the 2007 game in Kansas City and the game during his true freshman season in 1996.

“There wasn’t really anything riding on the game as far as bowl implications, but it was us against them, and we won that one too,” Odom said. “So, you tend to remember some of those.”

More targets for Albert Okwuegbunam?

With Missouri’s struggles on offense against Vanderbilt, it’s a fair question as to why tight end Albert Okwuegbunam was not or has not been targeted more.

He’s arguably Missouri’s best offensive weapon, and he has caught four passes in a game only once all season. Although, he has caught six touchdowns on 18 receptions.

Odom said that Okwuegbunam doesn’t have more targets because of defenses focusing on stopping him and Missouri missing opportunities. One of those came on the final play of the Wyoming game when it looked as if Okwuegbunam was open in the end zone.

“There’s some times out on the field that we want him in the game when he comes out of the game,” Odom said. “There’s time that the read is not there to go to him initially so we go somewhere else. I think we need to lean on that.”

Odom clarified that the times they want him in the game when he comes out are those times when they need to give Okwuegbunam a break. He has played in the second-most snaps of any offensive skill player, behind Jonathan Nance. Daniel Parker Jr., Missouri’s No. 2 tight end, has played 57 snaps less than Okwuegbunam. That’s about a full game’s worth of snaps.

But when Okwuegbunam is on the field, Odom recognizes that they might have to adjust how they use the redshirt junior tight end.

“He’s got the ability to make plays,” Odom said. “We need him to do it consistently, but also we may need to force feed that a little bit.”

  • Nick Kelly is a Missouri football reporter for the Columbia Missourian. A native of Minneapolis, Minn., he is studying magazine writing and business. Previously, he covered sports for The Boston Globe, Tampa Bay Times and The Athletic.

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