Barry Odom's Press Conference
Barry Odom met with the media as the Tigers prepare to face Georgia this week. Listen on the player above or read a full press conference transcript below.
"Coming off a bye week and getting into the preparation as we started last week into our next opponent in Georgia, thought the team over the course of the three practices we had last week we found ways to get better. And in a lot of areas, and now you know the challenge to, to continue to prepare and then get in the arena and go execute the game plan so that's the next step for us. We held up in a lot of ways and in spots that I think if you talked with any coach in the country at this point they would be a little bit banged up, we're no different than that. We had three practices plus a walkthrough, and also some time in the weight room and extra film study, which we used it well. I like the way that our team responded to the things in the map we put out in front of them. And then, after a couple of practice so far this week, Sunday, a little bit of an extended meeting time we had and then on the field today with the energy, excitement and understand the challenge that's in front of us, and also the opportunity. A lot of credit to Georgia, the way that they play in every area, they're solid, they're strong, big, rangy, they can run, they're well coached, and they play very, very aggressively. So, you know, the thing that stands out when you look at the way they play on offense I think their offensive line is as talented as there is in college football. You know the running backs, all three guys that they play back there are very talented, really can throw four guys in there, and then their quarterback and receivers over the last couple weeks, they continue to make plays and step up and Fromm has this really shown his experience in the way that he plays over the last couple weeks on converting on third downs, was so hugely important to their success last week against Florida. He made some big time throws and the receivers made big time catches, and then you look on the defensive side. They're nationally ranked really in every category in the top 10. Really, across the board and you watch them play and you understand why they're good against the run, they're aggressive in the pass. They don't miss tackles. They communicate well and they play hard. They got a great scheme and great coaches, so a tremendous challenge for us but also one that our kids are excited about and that they've embraced. You go into the arena there, Saturday night will be one of the greatest college environments that we've been in, and our team is excited about that. With that will open up questions."
How confident are you that Kelly Bryant is your starter on Saturday?
"I would say, sitting on Tuesday I thought he did some things today much better than last week also know that, you know, the efficiency on how you can play that position and what it takes. You know, if we played today he wouldn't be out there, you know, we'll take it day to day. I think he is a fast healer, have learned that. I know he was anxious during practice today to do a lot more. So we kind of edged it on and had to do more than maybe I anticipated going into today, he'll do more tomorrow, and then we'll take it from there."
With that uncertainty do you give Taylor Powell more reps this week to get him ready?
"At anytime at any position but especially that one, you got to make sure that that there's enough reps spread out that, you know, the next guy up can't go in and hasn't been trained well enough through the week to go prepare. The benefit for us as we had last week that we got a ton of reps for Taylor in that situation, not knowing where we would get to, but also Kelly's got to get a number of reps to because I think he's, you know, after I saw what I did today and you know he'll be a lot better tomorrow, he probably wouldn't be ready to go, so anyway there's a balance there but we all know that you're a play away from if you're not the quote unquote starter, you're a play away from being the starter in that position. You know, you look at the number of reps and were divided pretty evenly today and tomorrow will kind of make a determination and go from there."
With the bye week, looking back at the last couple of games what did you see that you are able to work on?
"As I've said before, you know the opportunities to learn from your experiences, whether they're good or bad and you know we had a chance to do that had extended time to do it. You want to make sure you don't make the same mistakes twice but for us, schematically we couldn't run the ball the last two weeks and that's not a positive anytime for us, we're going to be able to run it to be able to throw it and then those two go hand in hand. You know defensively against Kentucky we played well at times but not near good enough to win against a good team and a good offense, the way that they were playing with the quarterback. So, all in all, you know we got better as a team over the last few days, but you also you try to fix mistakes and fix problems, and you know the urgency to do it is here. There's plenty of time but but no time to waste so open and honest conversation about where we are, we're five and three, four games left to make the most of it, and we still have not played our best game. We need to go do that. And then It's time. It's time to get there, and everybody in the organization understands that very well."
The kicking game has struggled. Did you have a chance to work with Tucker one on one during the bye?
"It wouldn't be very good for me to work with him specifically. You know my coaching point is make it between the uprights, which is pretty poor of a coaching technique. But we did look at the things that maybe were, you know the reasons why, and I'm really confident in Tucker and I have been for a long time, and you look at the things that he's done in the kickoff game, in the punt game, he's been a way above average force, we look at the hang time on the things that he's done in the punt game has given us an ability to to go cover, he's placed the ball where we wanted it to be placed in our kickoff coverage, he's kicked it out of the end zone, you know, a high percentage of time, which was awesome. And we've missed the last three opportunities in situations that you need to walk away with points so you know you take a look at all those things and try to get them corrected but also understand my trust in Tucker in walking out there and kicking a field goal is still really high. He's a really tough competitor and I know he's going to bounce back and have a great November."
You talked about the Georgia offensive line. Do you try to bring extra people or how do you attack that?
"They're so good on just point of attack and with a double team will knock you out of the, you know, they will will knock you out of your gap integrity, just because of their size and their strength and the way they play. I think Sam Pittman is a tremendous coach. You watch that group play, he's the offensive line coach, you watch that group play abd the tenacity that they play with, the ability that they play well together. He's got a plan on a high level, but you've got to do some things that you get them off the double teams quicker hopefully than normal, but also you got to stand in, you got to be sturdy at the point of attack from a defensive standpoint, and then you can't sit back and wait, you sit back and wait and they're going to be up, you'll be seven, eight yards back to the point of point of attack so we've got to be aggressive, we've got to try to find a way to be disruptive and, you know, get a tackle for loss here and there and get them behind the sticks. You know that's a key. One of the more pressing keys for us defensively just try to find a way to get them into third and medium to long as not many teams have done that. You pull up, you know, third down cut ups, and then you know there's a few third one and twos. They're very, very few third and five pluses and you know because they're they're having so much success on first and second down."
There seems to be some confusion on what you said about Albert Okwuegbunam a couple of weeks ago. They said on the broadcast that you had said maybe he's not in as good of shape as you would like. Is that accurate?
"No, I wouldn't say, I mean he's in as good a shape as he's ever been I think he's in really good shape. There's times that we go personnel grouping whether it's 10 or 12 or 11, and Albert doesn't go consecutive seven or eight plays for that reason, but we want and are trying to get him in the game, and targeted as many times as possible."
You said before Kentucky that maybe you would have to force that, but then you weren't able to
"Obviously, that didn't havppen. We've still got to find ways to do it, because we haven't, you know, there's been times that we have said, you know, design plays for a tight end. And hopefully opportunity during that you know we match that up, and you know whether the coverage doesn't allow us to get there, the pressure doesn't or the read that we initially have you know they take it away. So, you know, if I were trying to defend our offense I would kind of do what some of those guys are doing I would try to take away eighty one. And, you know, as much as we all want him to have the ball and I'm leading the pack on that, if it's not there we can't force the throw and that will be not a wise decision. So, we're going to continue to try to find creative ways to get him the ball, you know, especially out in the area, not, not the red zone, but you know we're always targeting down in that area but also you know creatively. We've got to continue to find ways that we get a match up that we can try to get the ball, you know, targeted to him, and you know again there's, there's a lot of things that go into it. I'd love to say yeah we're gonna we're going to get Albert, you know 12 touches this next week, but a lot of that's dictated on what they're doing on the other side of ball."
How much confidence do you have in Taylor Powell if he does need to play?
"He's worked extremely hard, he's always prepared like he's going to be the starter. He's got the respect of his teammates. I know he will go play. He'll play really well. We need the guys around him to play well, and he'll efficiently run the offense, the way we need to. I talked to him today out in practice, you don't have to do anything special. Okay, we need to efficiently move the ball and find ways, don't force the throw if it's not there, you know, throw the check down if that's where we need to go. And more than anything, show the confidence that you've trained and you're ready to go. You know you can get us out of calls with the check system that we've got built in so he understands it. You know the football knowledge side of it he's gonna be in good shape to be ready to go."
You've been really good in November the last few years. How do you keep that up?
"I think, you know, you take one game at a time and every game is different now. Now that we understand, we visit about it, not that it makes the difference but we visit about, you know, finishing strong and having the opportunity in this situation for us for, five and three with four games left, now let's take them one at a time and what can we do with that. So, I think last year going into November this point through eight games, were four and four, the year before that we were not in that position so for us the ability to try to control the things that we do and our attitude, our preparation, and then our execution, and then focus on the small and make sure that those habits align and then we've got to go execute, we've got to cut loose and the coaches have got to do a great job on giving us a plan to go win. We got to make sure that they're prepared the way they do where they can play freely and play fast. And if we do that, and we walk out of the game with the ability to run the ball, stop the run, the turnovers in our favor, we'll get it down to the fourth quarter and let's go cut loose."
You've talked about the struggles in the run game. Is there anything in particular you can do to fix that?
"Yeah I think there's a couple different schemes that we're going to, you know, have going forward that will help us out. And, you know, there's always new wrinkles in the way that you do things from week to week and some of those will hopefully be in our favor, but also you know there's times that we have to win. And we got to be able to move with the double team work to the next level and sometimes there's going to be a guy opened in the hole, we're going to have to make him miss. And I'm not saying, you know, we're going to have to run out there and run for 250. That's not what I'm saying. We are going to be able to extend the drive and every third down can't come down to 3rd and 7, you got to complete a pass to go get it. So, we get into third and short, then we're going to have an opportunity to get more of those conversions that we need to, but you know the run game also opens up the pass game for us to play action moving the pocket. Some of the boot and the naked and some of those things that have been really good for us. If you're not running the ball yet and establish that then they don't have any respect for it. So, we've got to find a way to run."
When most of the struggles seem to have been on one side of the ball how do you make sure that doesn't bleed into the locker room and become a problem?
"I've been through that before you know, as a coordinator, been through it as a position coach and if you've got a close team then you don't start pointing fingers. We all know that what we're doing, we're working together and we're going to need each other, we're going to need everyone in that locker room down the stretch to be all in. And, you know, I think that we're close enough as a team and relationship wise and the things that this group has been through since January, you know they're not there, we all know we've got to be better. And then we got to be better coaches, we've got to be better players. We're in no position (to point fingers), because as soon as you start thinking that it takes away from your preparation and what you need to do to go play your best."
Are you surprised you don't have an answer on the NCAA appeal yet?
"I mean I am surprised. I don't know what else to say about that. Yes, I am surprised, and I know we'll hear at some point. But, yeah, I'm shocked."
You pumped in some noise during practice. How can you prepare for the environment?
"This will be the loudest environment that we play in, you know, for our offense to be able to make checks and do the things we need to, you know, the years that I've played them we play there, coach there, is one thing that stands out. You know iit's a great environment, you know, and competitors love to be able to go in that arena and go play and one way that you can play efficiently, is you don't sit there and all of a sudden that's first and 15 and it doesn't need to be because you jumped offsides. You watch their home games, offenses have had trouble at times on getting it communicated across the line, down the line, the way they need to. They've had false starts, they've done those so we're trying to do everything we can to get our guys ready for that. We did a lot of it last week, a little bit heavier today and a little bit more tomorrow, to try to simulate it as close as we can."
Their combination of quarterback and receivers is probably the best you've played. What do you look for from your secondary?
"Yeah, it's gonna be a tremendous challenge because they've got the ability to stretch the field and pull the backs or fade, they can, they've got enough speed they can get on top of you and then their intermediate pass game because the way that Fromm is able to decipher and really deliver the ball out of the break, the timing, every area will be tested. Corners and safeties, that's linebackers matched up on the running back, I mean how many times we get the back up and dump it down to him and it turns into a 30 yard gain. They got really good players. So every person, if you feel like you're your guy is covered he's not, because he's gonna make the shot. He will make the throw. And you know the contested balls we got to come up with them, there are going to be a bunch of 50-50 balls there and we've got to win those."
Do you sense there's any less pressure because everyone is talking more about Georgia and you won't be favored for the first time this year?
"I'm putting enough pressure on them. They're feeling it. I'm not worried about the outside pressure or not pressure of a game going into it, the pressure I want, I want us to play our best, and we play our best, we will be all right. So, that's the charge of our staff is we've got to play our best, and we don't have to do anything other than our best and we do that, let the chips fall like they will."
How do you feel about your linebackers as a group?
"Nick's been really productive since Cale's dropped out with the injury. His production hass picked up, his leadership has picked up, his play has picked up which is awesome, was what we needed to happen. Devin Nicholson stepped in last week and did a nice job. He and Jamal (Brooks) and Cam Wilkins will continue to rotate in that other spot, they've done some really good things. There's also things that happened in the course of the game. And, you know, it's the first time that they've seen it live and in action, you know not practice, and it's happened a little bit faster so the reaction of that, you know, it comes with experience, so they're coming along. I think they're going to play better this week than they have the week before and that's just because they've been through it more more live reps."
Georgia has been really good on third down. Do you have a plan to slow them down there?
"I mean every every week is different but that's pretty good analysis. Georgia was, you know, their high percentage on third downs on completions and some of them were third and you know medium to long, made a lot of big time plays and Florida was very, very aggressive and so you look at scheme. Is that something that we have built in how aggressive can we be, can we hold up in coverage? Being able to find a game plan that works and I don't know that you can say, you know, for us I don't say well we can just live in one thing and make it work. They're too good and too talented to sit there and think what would this going to pressure all day, you know, or we're just going to sit back and play zone because you know there's got to be a mix of how you look at it situationally out on the field, you know what personnel are they showing, what are they showing because their third down package this week will be different than last week, you know, so it'll be the game within the game and kind of see how it goes. So important to our success on third downs will be you know find a way to get off the field."
Kirby said that you guys have talked and bounced ideas off each other. Is he a guy you've gotten to know pretty well in this league?
"I think I've said probably before in a setting similar to this is I think defensive guys kind of gravitate a little bit each other. I do respect the job he's done you know since he's been in the game, since he's been in the business and the way that he's done it. I know a lot of the staff that he's got, you know, coaching is a small fraternity really when you get into it and you're into it for a number of years and, and he is, he has got an elite program and organization and the way that he structured it. You know, he shared a lot of, you know some things idea wise on what works for them, and what the reasons they've had some success and some areas that he was willing to share. Yeah, I've got, you know he's a class guy and I've got a lot of respect for him."
Johnathon Johnson didn't practice today. Do you have an update on him?
"He will be day to day. He was out with a sickness, and hopefully get a little bit more tomorrow. He practiced some last week and hopefully get a little bit more today or tomorrow."