VIDEO: Injury to Smith puts Missouri’s defensive end depth to the test

Aldon Smith's injury will lead Missouri to play Michael Sam, Brad Madison, and Marcus Malbrough more against Miami (Ohio) Sept. 25. (Photo by Ross Taylor)

Missouri’s deep linebacking corps was able to successfully replace the injured Luke Lambert and the suspended Will Ebner in the season’s first few weeks. Now, MU’s other deep defensive position—defensive end—will face a similarly daunting task.

While only one player needs to be replaced at defensive end, that player is as close to irreplaceable as anyone on MU’s defense. Thanks to a broken bone in his leg, Aldon Smith will miss at least the Miami (Ohio) game this weekend, meaning Michael Sam, Brad Madison, and Marcus Malbrough will be called upon to step in for Smith.

“We can’t lie, he’s accounted for half [3.0] our sacks,” said Jacquies Smith, who has started alongside Aldon Smith at defensive end this year. But, the healthy Smith added that he’s confident in the trio of Sam, Madison, and Malbrough to succeed in place of the injured Smith:

Both Sam and Madison have had success in the four-defensive-end “candy” formation, each holding a sack to their names this season. Madison has been particularly impressive, as the redshirt sophomore has five solo tackles (six total tackles), one more than Jacquies Smith.

MU’s 23-13 win over Illinois turned out to be the coming-out party for Sam and Madison, who helped put a tremendous amount of pressure on Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, significantly limiting Illinois’ offense in the second half.

Malbrough has had the least success of the Sam/Madison/Malbrough trio, as he’s without a sack or a solo tackle on the year. But Malbrough isn’t without past successes—namely, his 1.5 tackles for a loss against Kansas State in 2009.

Coach Gary Pinkel’s mantra has always been to “move ‘em over, move ‘em up” when a starter can’t play for one reason or another. He reiterated that belief Monday in response to Smith being out:

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