Mizzou football can get better with an improved pass defense. And the Tigers have the experience to do that.
It’s possible no cornerback duo is closer than the two starters in Columbia.
Senior DeMarkus Acy and junior Christian Holmes paired up last season and will be back as the starting tandem for the Tigers. That’s good for the chemistry of the defense.
Acy and Holmes give the Tigers a pair of reliable starters who could match up against the wide receivers in the SEC.
Even though the Tigers’ secondary has been inconsistent, with those two in the back, things are looking more positive. It’s been a concern over the years, but the potential Mizzou’s starting pair brings excites those around CoMo. And why not?
Acy was a second-team All SEC selection by the coaches after his play in 2018. The senior picked off the ball a team-high three times last year and had 30 tackles with 10 pass breakups while staring all 13 games.
He might even be a high draft pick in 2020. If he’s not on NFL teams’ radars yet, he’ll be there after this season.
One publication projects him to be a first-round pick, as high as No. 21 as we enter the season.
Holmes, on the other hand, had similar numbers as Acy while recovering from a shoulder injury that eliminated his 2017 season. Holmes had two interceptions to go with 36 tackles and a team-high 12 pass breakups with eight starts.
A big year from the junior will put him in position to return as the top cornerback in the conference.
Acy was the bright spot for Mizzou last year, but remember, Holmes had a slower start due to missing the year before. When he got going, the secondary got better.
Outside of those two, the Tigers have some familiar faces.
Adam Sparks returns as the No. 3 cornerback.
Sparks racked up 38 tackles last year despite missing the final five games of the season with a leg injury. He has more experience than most teams have in their backup defensive backs, having started multiple games his freshman and sophomore years.
Behind Sparks is a fight between sophomore Jarvis Ware and new cornerback Richaud Floyd. Ware played in 10 games last year while Floyd missed the first six games of the season.
Floyd played his first three years with the Tigers as a wide receiver. He moves over to the secondary hoping to make a difference this season. He’ll be the return man as well, but Floyd wants to see as much game action as possible. He’ll have a chance as he continues to battle Ware and Sparks this camp.
Behind those three reserves are a pair of Chrises in Chris Mills and Chris Shearin.
Freshman Ishmael Burdine will miss the season after he had surgery for a torn labrum he had in high school.
Freshmen Aidan Harrison, Stacy Brown and Jaylen Varner also are in camp this year to go with junior Mason Pack and sophomore Zion Sales.
The secondary is supposed to be better this season. Coaches are high on Acy and Holmes. Sparks, Ware and Floyd will do their part to add depth.
That’s enough to get excited about for a unit that needs to improve on pass defense.