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Mizzou closer to landing an offensive coordinator?

December 17, 2017 GMT

UPDATED, 1:30 p.m.

COLUMBIA, MO. • Missouri’s Barry Odom is still interviewing offensive coordinator candidates and doesn’t plan to make a hire until after the Tigers’ bowl game Dec. 27, but he had target on campus Saturday for the team’s practice, UCLA coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch.

Fisch spent the regular season on the Bruins staff coaching under Jim Mora and will stay on with the team through the Dec. 26 Cactus Bowl against Kansas State as Mora’s interim replacement. The Bruins beat Cal under Fisch in the regular-season finale for their sixth win and bowl eligibility. New UCLA coach Chip Kelly is expected to retain several Bruins assistants, including former Missouri quarterback and now UCLA receivers coach Jimmie Dougherty, but Fisch’s status moving forward remains unclear, the Los Angeles Times reported earlier this month.

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During Saturday’s practice Fisch watched Mizzou’s offense from the sideline and visited with Odom, deputy athletics director Brian White, receivers coach Andy Hill and after practice spent time chatting with quarterback Drew Lock. Fisch was on Michigan’s staff as Jim Harbaugh’s passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach when the Wolverines made a late push to sign Lock in 2015. Fisch spent two seasons on Harbaugh’s staff in Ann Arbor after bouncing between the NFL and college programs for the previous 15 years. He’s worked on staffs at Florida, Minnesota and Miami and coached in the NFL in Houston, Baltimore, Denver, Seattle and Jacksonville. He served as the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator in 2013-14.

Under Fisch’s watch this season, UCLA ranked third in the Pac-12 in total offense (465.7 yards per game) as Josh Rosen led the league in passing yards with 341.5, which ranked third among all FBS quarterbacks.

Odom reiterated after Saturday’s practice that he hasn’t filled the position yet and doesn’t want to “rush into it.”

“I don’t want to move before the bowl game,” he said. “I’m interviewing guys every day between now and then to make sure we get the right fit for who we need and what the program needs. There’s a lot of guys that are interested in the position both in-house and out-of-house. I’m very confident we’ll find a great one to go lead us into many years to come. I don’t want to rush into it, but also the urgency to find someone to get them in place is important as well.”

MU’s next coordinator will replace Josh Heupel, who left the team for the head-coaching position at Central Florida. Heupel was Odom’s highest paid assistant coach at $700,000 per year. At UCLA, Fisch has been working on a two-year deal that pays him $810,000 per year.

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NEW STAFFERS COMING SOON

Newly hired Mizzou inside linebackers coach Vernon Hargeaves was at MU on Friday and will spend some more time with the team in the coming weeks, along with newly hired offensive line coach Brad Davis, but neither will have any input on the preparation for the Texas Bowl, Odom said. Davis is set to arrive at MU on Sunday.

Davis, who coached this season at Florida, came highly recommended from North Texas coach Seth Littrell, one of Odom’s close friends, and Georgia offensive line coach Sam Pittman, another coach Odom knows well. Davis coached for Littrell at North Texas in 2016 and worked with Pittman as a graduate assistant at North Carolina in 2008.

“More than anything I want them around the players to build relationships so after the bowl game they don’t come back new in January and get to know the guys then,” Odom said.

On Hargreaves, Odom said, “Hargreaves is a guy I’ve known for a few years just mainly through recruiting. I coached against him some when he was at Houston and know some guys who worked with him. All the research I did hit all the boxes, number one, on being a great teacher for guys, being a tremendous mentor and leader and a guy who’s got great loyalty to the point … in his career where he’s got a lot of opportunities and he wanted to be part of this. That was exciting.”

On Davis, he added, “I went overboard on his coaching and teaching ability but also what kind of guy he is in the staff room. On the road recruiting he’s been phenomenal. I’ve seen that up close. Then loyalty and trust. That word is going to keep coming up. He hits on a lot of different things. He’s going to be unbelievable for our kids in our program.”

LOCK TO DECIDE AFTER BOWL

Quarterback Drew Lock made it clear the outcome of Mizzou’s bowl game won’t factor into his decision whether he enters the NFL draft or returns for his senior season.

“Win or lose I’m going to look at it the same,” he said. “I’m still taking in information right now. I’m going to make the best decision for me, me and my family. In the end, whatever I decide I’ll just know it’ll be what I feel is best.”

Lock said he won’t make his decision or a formal announcement on his plans until after Mizzou’s bowl game.

No less important, Lock shared some thoughts on “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” He caught the blockbuster movie Thursday night and came away with some mixed reactions. He was careful to avoid any spoilers in his review for reporters Saturday:

“‘Star Wars’ was pretty good,” he said. “I thought the first hour was all right. The end was really cool. It was awesome. My biggest pet peeve of the movie was there was a lot of humor and a lot of stuff that I don’t think would have been allowed in the first couple films. I’m an originals guy, (Episodes) IV, V and VI. Those are my favorites. To see some of the stuff in the movie (George) Lucas would never have put in the (other) films. There’s just some humor in there that threw me off.

“But was a good movie, nonetheless.”

ABRON AMONG MU GRADS

Eight current players and one former record-setting running back earned their undergraduate degrees this weekend. Graduating were current safety Anthony Hines, defensive end Jordan Harold, offensive tackle Tyler Howell, defensive tackle A.J. Logan, receiver J’Mon Moore, tight end Jason Reese, receiver Cameren Rivers and safety Anthony Sherrils. Zack Abron, who finished his career in 2003 as MU’s career rushing leader, came back to school and earned his degree from the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Abron, a 1,155-yard rusher in 2003 and a second-team All-Big 12 pick, ran for 3,198 yards and 40 touchdowns from 2000-03, both Mizzou career records at the time. Quarterback Brad Smith later eclipsed him in both categories, but Abron still holds both marks for MU running backs.