Mizzou’s seen its fair share of turnover this offseason. New coach. New quarterback. “New Zou.”
The new slogan for Mizzou’s football program was not selected by mistake. Eli Drinkwitz and his staff are making it very clear it will not be business as usual in Columbia under Drink’s leadership.
This is going to be different. And the results will be better. That’s the hope, at least. But there’s one area of the roster where that doesn’t necessarily need to be the case. I’m talking about the defense, of course.
Mizzou returns most of what was the 15th ranked scoring defense in the country last season. Most of the defensive staff remains in place, and the majority of the starters return, too.
Cale Garrett is gone, but he missed most of last season, anyway. Jordan Elliott will certainly be a loss, but you can make a strong argument defensive tackle is the deepest position on the roster. The toughest defensive player to replace for the Tigers very well may be DeMarkus Acy, but Jarvis Ware and Adam Sparks both performed well over the last couple seasons when they got on the field.
The weak spots on the defense aren’t hard to spot. This is the third straight year that edge rush will be a significant question going into spring practice.
The strength of the defense is even easier to point out. This defense should be very strong up the middle. The Tigers are deep at defensive tackle, Nick Bolton is one of the best linebackers in the country, and the safety duo of Joshuah Bledsoe and Tyree Gillespie has already proven how good it can be.
No linebacker finished with a higher grade in coverage than Nick Bolton did in 2019. pic.twitter.com/nKxHycz5vR— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 23, 2020
The Tigers are embracing everything that’s new, but it’s the part of the team that’s seen the least amount of change this offseason that very well could carry the team to a better-than-expected season.