New Missouri coach Odom, staff attend fan 'welcome'

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) Drew Lock has an entire offseason to prepare to be the starting quarterback at Missouri, both in mind and body.

The school's new offensive coordinator, Josh Heupel, isn't sure the freshman was totally ready when he stepped into the job last fall.

''This might not be fair of me to say: I don't think he was necessarily overly purposeful in his preparation, maybe thinking that he may not be the guy,'' Heupel said before a program with the Tiger Quarterback Club on Monday night. ''There's a lot of pieces to the puzzle I think the quarterback has to understand to be successful.''

New coach Barry Odom got a standing ovation when he was introduced to a packed audience of more than 200 at a banquet hall not far from the athletic complex. He showed a great sense of humor, joking that he aspires to be the athletic director, then the school chancellor and ''maybe governor.''

Asked whether he was a ''butt kicker'' or a player's coach, he responded that he'd probably be a mixture of both: ''I want to treat them just like I treat my kids,'' Odom said. ''That's life and that's relationships.''

Odom hasn't promised an immediate turnaround for the Tigers, who were 5-7 last year after winning consecutive SEC East titles. What he does promise is diligence and a determination to get a little bit better every day.

''We're going to outwork folks,'' Odom said. ''I'm excited about this group.''

Odom sat in the back of the room most of the program, making sure his assistants got their due. Counting Odom, who was defensive coordinator in Gary Pinkel's final season, there are four staff holdovers and lots of new faces. Odom replaced Pinkel in December. The former coach retired, citing his diagnosis of a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

New defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross was a star safety at Missouri and this fall it'll be 20 years since he last played.

Cross, who is from St. Louis, has been an assistant coach for 18 years.

''Those were jobs,'' he said. ''This is home.''

There's no place to go but up for the offense, which was one of the worst in the nation last season with shortcomings across the board.

Lock came to Missouri highly touted out of Lee's Summit but often appeared overmatched after replacing Maty Mauk last fall. Mauk was 17-5 as the starter but was dismissed after being suspended three times in four months for various missteps.

Lock threw just four touchdown passes with eight interceptions.

''He got beat up a little bit, didn't make great quick decisions at times,'' Heupel said.

Heupel anticipates a big change when spring ball starts next month.

''The one thing I will say is he's an extremely confident kid who has worked his butt off from the time I've known him being here in January,'' Heupel said.

He also believes it's a chance to teach young players a lesson.

''You don't know when your opportunity is coming; if you're the No. 2 guy it may never come,'' Heupel said. ''But you've got to prepare as if you're going to be the guy.''



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