By Nate Smith
Columbia, MO
Twitter: @NateSmithNBA

Despite mixed results in his first three seasons at the helm of the Tigers, Missouri Head Coach Barry  Odom has earned the full support of the program and his players alike. Odom has shown that a 2-6  start to his coaching tenure was merely a rough patch. Since then, Odom has led Mizzou to a 17-13  record, highlighted by late season success against SEC rivals such as Tennessee and Florida. A  trademark of Odom’s Missouri teams has been their tendency to improve as the season progresses; the  Tigers have gone a combined 10-2 in the month of November under Coach O.

Missouri will look to start the 2019 season off on a strong note, with three non-conference games  scheduled prior to opening up SEC play against South Carolina on September 21st. Following last  year’s heartbreaking 37-35 defeat in ​Columbia, South Carolina​, the Tigers will look to extract  revenge—this time at home in the friendly confines of ​Columbia, Missouri. ​Once again the Tigers record  will largely depend on their late season success, as the Gators, Volunteers, and Rebels of Ole Miss are  all set to make visits to Faurot Field this year.Now entering his fourth season, Odom is backed by arguably his strongest coaching staff to date.  Perhaps the most impactful addition is new Defensive Backs Coach David Gibbs. The former Texas  Tech Defensive Coordinator joined the Missouri coaching staff in January, much to the delight of Odom. Gibbs’ presence instantly improves Missouri’s defensive outlook, especially in the turnover  department. As ​The Kansas City Star​ pointed out, defenses’ ability to force turnovers have spiked under  Gibbs’ watch at each of his two previous coaching stops. This is perfect for the Tigers, who have seen  their interceptions decrease in three consecutive seasons.

Part of Gibbs’ mystique is actually how straight forward he can be when it comes to talking turnovers.  He is very quick to say that he does not in fact have a secret recipe guaranteed to produce turnovers.  While we can certainly take Gibbs at his word, the numbers beg to differ. Like many successful  coordinators and coaches, Gibbs seems to prefer that his players receive the credit for a job well done,  rather than himself. The players however, are often quick to dish the credit right back to Gibbs, who  was likened to a “human cheat code” by starting cornerback Christian Holmes.

Gibbs and Defensive Coordinator Ryan Walters will aim to send out one of the SEC’s most improved  defensive units in 2019. Gibbs and Walters already knew each other fairly well prior to joining forces;  Walters father was teammates with Gibbs at the University of Colorado.

For the Tigers’ secondary, experience has gone from being a weakness to a strength, ​as starting  cornerback Christian Holmes told ​The Star’s​ Alex Schiffer​. Seven of Mizzou’s top eight defensive backs  are now upperclassmen, including Holmes and fellow returning starter DeMarkus Acy. The Tigers’  talent and experience—both from their players and coaches—should combine to make life difficult for  opposing quarterbacks this fall.