HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — The Missouri Tigers finished the 2018 season on a sour note following a loss to Oklahoma State in the Autozone Liberty Bowl, 38-33. The Tigers finished 8-5 (4-4 in the SEC) with big wins against Florida, Memphis and Purdue.
The big story for Missouri came in the offseason when it was announced that the team would be serving a one-year postseason ban after it was discovered a tutor had completed coursework for athletes on the team. The university is currently appealing the suspension, however.
Head coach Barry Odom says the ultimate outcome isn’t keeping him up at night.
“It’s wasted thoughts,” Odom said.
Odom enters his fourth season leading the Tigers in hopes to steadily rebuild his team and bring them back to their winning ways when they played in back-to-back SEC Championships back in 2013-14.
Despite the postseason ban, no players left the team through the transfer portal and returned eight offensive starters and five on the defensive side. One starter lost, however, is a big one.
Quarterback Drew Lock left for the NFL after accounting for 34 total touchdowns last season and was the focal point of the third-ranked offense in the conference that averaged nearly 37 points per game last season.
The Tigers are not without a replacement, however. Former Clemson quarterback and recent transfer Kelly Bryant looks to take over for the departing Lock. As a member of Clemson, Bryant backed-up now Houston Texans star Deshaun Watson and won the 2017 National Championship. After losing the starting job to Trevor Lawrence at Clemson, Bryant left the team and used the transfer portal before playing in his fifth game, allowing him to go and play anywhere without having to wait a year.
“It was a natural fit,” Odom said of Bryant and Mizzou. “As soon as he stepped on campus it was a natural fit,”
“When I went there on the visit, I pretty much fell in love with everything that they had to offer,” Bryant said. “I got one year to get it right, can’t have any slip-ups, and they knew that.”
Bryant will be the starter come Week 1 for the Tigers and will bring a combination of skill both throwing and passing. Before transferring, Bryant had 130 yards rushing and two touchdowns as well as 461 yards and another two touchdowns through the air in four games.
Safety DeMarkus Acy is coming off a junior season that saw him get named to the All-SEC Second Team. He will likely be one of the many upperclassmen acting as a leader of this Tigers’ defense.
“I’m putting a lot of responsibility on my back,” Acy said. ” I’m ready for the challenge and what comes with it.”
Senior linebacker Cale Garrett hopes to improve the defense which finished eighth in the conference a season ago. Garrett finished 2018 with 112 tackles and one sack.
The Missouri-native spoke very highly of his head coach and about how much getting an offer from the Tigers meant to him.
“It was a late offer and I know I wasn’t their first choice,” Garrett said. “I know my high school film wasn’t anything flashy, pretty average if you ask me, I’m just really grateful Coach Odom took a chance on me.”
Odom said that after this season, Garrett would go down as, “one of the best linebackers in the history of Missouri football.”
The Tigers start the 2019 season at Wyoming August 31.