Barry Odom: Mizzou QB competition to continue

After completing his first spring as Missouri’s head coach, Barry Odom said he wants competition to continue across the board -- including at quarterback -- into the summer.

Following solid spring game performances from both Drew Lock and Marvin Zanders, Odom didn’t say he was ready to name a starting quarterback just yet.

“I think it's important that we go into the summer with those guys [competing],” Odom said Tuesday. “Both of those guys have done a great job, they've established themselves as leaders. I want that to continue. I want the competition at every spot to continue. There's a lot of time between now and Sept. 3. I think it's fair for everybody on the roster to know that they've got the opportunity to compete every day and see where it ends up.”

Lock, who took over as the Tigers’ starter for the final eight games last season, was 9-of-13 passing for 134 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday’s Black-and-Gold game. Zanders, a redshirt sophomore who hasn’t yet attempted a collegiate pass, was 8-of-13 passing for 83 yards and a score on Saturday.

Both quarterbacks showed the ability to move the Mizzou offense and took care of the ball -- neither turned it over.

“They look like different players, in a positive way,” Odom said. “Marvin allows the opportunity for some run-pass option. Drew runs better than maybe some people think that he does. We're a little bit limited in what we wanted to ask him to do last year.

“I'm excited about that spot and I'm excited about how they've handled their business. The quarterback position is the most important position in sports. If you have a good one you're probably going to win some games.”

Odom attributed their improvement to the presence of new offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, the former Oklahoma quarterback who served as offensive coordinator for the Sooners and Utah State before arriving at Mizzou this offseason.

“He has done a great job of teaching them the fundamentals of smart quarterback play and where their feet are placed efficiently on a three-step [dropback], on a five-step [dropback], on a rollout.”

Lock and Zanders rotated with junior college transfer Jack Lowary on Saturday, who Odom said also made tremendous strides but is considered “a freshman in our world,” given his short time on campus (Lowary enrolled in January). Odom said both Lock's and Zanders’ reads were “quicker and cleaner.”

“They know with their pre-snap reads what route concept we have going and just looked more efficient,” he said.

The Tigers’ wrapped up spring with a defense that looked solid despite losing its 2015 star, Kentrell Brothers, to graduation. Odom said he feels good about the depth on the defensive line, the veterans he has at linebacker and the options he has in the secondary. New defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross, who was at TCU last season, has made a positive impact on the unit.

“He's a tremendous leader and mentor for our kids,” Odom said of Cross. “He's coached in some defensive structured programs being at TCU the last three years. It's been good for he and I to share ideas together. He's done a tremendous job of taking the base structure of how we did things here last year and putting in his stamp on some new things going in and the way we've practiced.”

A few other personnel notes from Odom:

• The Tigers got good news on sophomore defensive end Walter Brady, who left Saturday’s spring game with a knee injury. Odom said it’s a sprain that won’t require surgery. “No surgery, no scope, none of that required. We dodged a bullet there,” Odom said. Brady made the SEC All-Freshman team last season.

• Brothers’ old weakside linebacker spot has been an ongoing competition between four players. “Joey Burkett took most of the snaps at that spot,” Odom said. “Terez Hall rotated in there, Brandon Lee, Eric Beisel... all are guys that we feel like if we kicked off tomorrow, they would be game ready and ready to go help us win a football game.”

• As for the status of Harold Brantley, who missed last season because of a car accident, Odom says the defensive lineman continues to progress but still has ground to cover. “He still has a ways to go to be in a position where he would be able to go compete at a level he needs to compete,” Odom said. “Still he has academic work yet to do. It's a daily process on him and working to get on that position where he can get back.”