After Aldon Smith suffered a broken leg in the final moments of Mizzou’s 27-24 win over San Diego State, Gary Pinkel reiterated his lost-player mantra: “Move ‘em over, move ‘em up.”
Brad Madison and Michael Sam were moved over and up in place of Smith, with both playing well in the absence of Mizzou’s star defensive end. In fact, Madison played so well—namely, his three sacks against Texas A&M—that most observers noted Mizzou didn’t miss a beat on its defensive line with Smith out.
Unfortunately for Mizzou, Smith’s return against Oklahoma coincided with the loss of nose guard Dominique Hamilton, who suffered a broken ankle and will miss the remainder of the 2010 season.
Madison, Sam, and Marcus Malbrough proved Mizzou had depth at defensive end when Smith went out—now, Jimmy Burge and Brendan Donaldson will have to prove Mizzou has depth at nose tackle with Hamilton out. Hamilton, who started all seven games before his injury, had 20 tackles and 1.5 sacks before his season-ending injury.
Burge, a redshirt sophomore, has played in five of Mizzou’s seven games in 2010, registering four tackles. Donaldson, a junior who first joined the team as a walk-on, has also played in five games, picking up three tackles and a sack.
Redshirt freshman Marvin Foster could make his Mizzou debut if necessary, but he’s listed second on the depth chart at defensive tackle behind Terrell Resonno.
While Madison, Sam, and Malbrough all played significant roles in Mizzou’s defensive scheme before Smith’s injury, the same cannot be said for Burge and Donaldson. While both have seen playing time, it’s been nowhere near as significant as the playing time Madison, Sam, and Malbrough saw rotating in for Aldon and Jacquies Smith and in the “Candy” package.
Nebraska’s rushing attack, led by quarterback Taylor Martinez, will be a stiff challenge for Burge and Donaldson. If both Burge and Donaldson aren’t up to the task, Nebraska very well could run the ball up the middle with great consistency and success—although, luckily for Mizzou, its deep linebacking corps may have something to say about that.