Missouri Tigers look to use quarterback Bryant’s full skillset
Missouri coach Barry Odom heads into the 2019 season with a new offensive weapon for the Tigers. Quarterback Kelly Bryant, a graduate transfer from Clemson, was the focus of the media attention for Missouri of the first day of Media Days.
“It was a natural fit,” said Odom. “He’s a very selfless person, low, low ego. One of the best competitors I have ever been around. That fit with who we are as a program and as an organization.”
Bryant’s skillset is expected to give opposing defenses plenty to prepare for, making him a threat “in the vertical passing game, the intermediate passing game, play action, moving the pocket, but also some quarterback runs that will help our team out,” Odom said.
Missouri faces NCAA sanctions that are in the process of being appealed by Missouri’s administration, with a hearing expected at the end of the month. As it stands now, Missouri is not eligible for post-season play. When asked what it is like having to wait for a resolution for himself and the players, Odom responded “[It] really doesn’t do anything for us beneficially to move our program forward. It’s wasted. It’s out of our control, wasted thoughts. Now, you look at the opportunity when that’s going to come about, we don’t know. We anticipate that hopefully we’ll get some closure soon.
Expectations high for Florida Gators
Florida coach Dan Mullen is coming off an impressive 10-win season in his first year as head coach at the University of Florida and is looking to build on it in year two.
Mullen talked about how the Gators were able to take great strides after the first year of his program.
“When you look in year one, you get a 10-win season, you finished ranked sixth in the country in the final polls, it was really exciting,” he said. “It showed how fast our guys bought in to what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to build.”
How does Florida go from a 10-win season to an 11- or 12-win season?
“Our guys know what to expect coming into the offseason,” Mullen said. “It’s easier to attack the offseason. I think we’ve made bigger gains in a lot of ways this offseason than we did last year.”
Florida opens its first game during “Week 0” against the University of Miami on Aug. 24 as part of the celebration of 150 years of college football.
“I think it’s huge,” said Mullen. “We’re the opening game of the 150th year of college football. It’s a great honor to just be involved in that game. And on top of it, being a rivalry game, you know, within the state of Florida. It’s going to be huge. Whoever wins that game ends up really kicking off the season on the right note with a big game with a lot of national exposure. It’s a big game for us. I know our players are excited to play in it.”
Mullen was also asked about the potential for changing the annual Florida/Georgia game held in Jacksonville to a home-and-home series.
“I think you can make an argument either way,” he said. “I think being in a neutral site obviously makes it into a very special game, a very unique game that you get to go coach in. There’s not many of those in college football. But you can also see and make the argument the other way of how big a game it is. You’re talking one of your biggest rivalry games every year and you’re moving it off campus where you can’t host that in your home stadium for your fans, all of your season ticket holders for recruiting. I think it’ll be an interesting discussion the next couple of years of when the contract runs up.”
Can recruiting turn LSU back into a power in the SEC West?
Coach Ed Orgeron enters his third full year as coach of the LSU Tigers. Coming off a 10-win season, Orgeron sees his team as competitors in the SEC West.
“Last year I felt we had a good season. We were two plays away from being 12-1. We’ve got to expound on that this year,” he said. “We cannot make the mistakes we made against Florida. We had opportunities to win the game at Texas A&M. Those are the two things we need to look at. Now we had some big wins. Auburn was a big win; Georgia was a big win. Those were big wins. We did not play well against Alabama. Now we have to go on the road and play them again. We have a tough schedule this year, but we have a good football team. We should be able to answer the bell.”
Orgeron said cultivating a culture of true grit in Baton Rouge starts with him.
“Lead by example,” he said. “First of all, recruiting character means a lot to us. That weighs in a bunch. Are we going out and recruiting and there’s too many red flags, we’re not going to take that young man. We feel we’ve recruited some great talent with great character. That means a lot. Second of all, the way we practice, the way we act, the things we do on a daily basis, our guys get tested. We call it Ponderosa where we practice. You go out on the Ponderosa and go ones against ones. You are going to play against a good football player every day, and you going to find out who you are. It’s going to take character, take grit, to go through our practice schedule in the fall. That’s my job to do that, and it comes natural.”
LSU recruiting prowess hasn’t been limited to the boundaries of Louisiana.
“LSU is a national brand,” Orgeron said. “We’ve had people from California approach us. As a coach, we’re interested in coming to LSU. I said, good, we’re going to recruit you. First time I was going up in the Baltimore/D.C. area, I seen a lot of schools recruit in that area. We have three guys from that area, may get four or five. The SEC is hot ticket now, especially the SEC West. Players want to come. They want to compete at the best. The people that are developing the most are coming out of our league. They want to be a part of it.”