COLUMBIA — Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel announced Monday morning during the Big 12 Conference teleconference that sophomore defensive end Aldon Smith would miss next Saturday’s game against Miami (Ohio) with a broken fibula in his right leg.
Smith begged to differ.
Listen to audio of Aldon Smith discussing his injury with the media, and watch video of San Diego State fans reacting to Saturday's MU victory at the Missourian Sports blog.
“It’s just a big bruise,” Smith said Monday, just minutes after Pinkel confirmed that Smith would miss one or two weeks.
Confused media members huddled around Smith, incapable of determining whether or not he was serious.
“Coach said Colorado, is that kind of what you’re hoping?” asked Gabe DeArmond, a reporter for powermizzou.com.
“This weekend,” Smith replied with a straight face.
“What’s the legitimate possibility of that then?” DeArmond followed up.
“I don’t know, we’ll have to see how fast it heals up,” Smith said. “Whatever’s wrong with it, I’ll put some ice on it, and I’ll go out there and play.”
The injury, which Pinkel described as a small fracture to a non-weight bearing bone, happened sometime during the defense’s final series against San Diego State. But Smith refused to acknowledge that he broke a bone and also wouldn’t address the injury ever happening.
“I wouldn’t say it was broken, but I think I had a bad cramp,” Smith said. "Got my hydration, I was on the sideline, came back there and tried to make a play – the cramp wasn’t over with.”
With a bye week following the Miami game, Pinkel never wavered on his stance that Smith would miss at least one game.
“Most athletes get a week or two rest and then they can play without any complications at all,” Pinkel said. “Hopefully, he’ll fall into that pattern.”
For this week, Pinkel seemed comfortable relying on backups to fill in for Smith.
“I move 'em over and move 'em up,” Pinkel said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s Aldon, it doesn’t matter if it’s your quarterback.”
Smith leads Missouri’s defensive linemen in tackles and the team in sacks, but because this season the Tigers have often used four defensive ends at once, Smith's backups (Michael Sam and Brad Madison) have received substantial playing time.
“Michael Sam obviously is doing a good job,” Pinkel said. “Madison has a great motor. You watch him, he might not be the fastest of the five or six there, but you watch how he gets off on the snap – he is really quick off the football and he weighs about 255.”
Whether or not Smith actually plays on Saturday remains unclear, but it seems unlikely considering Pinkel’s comments. As for the walking cast Smith wore on Monday?
That too didn’t mean anything.
“They said to put some ice on it,” Smith said. "This cast is for decoration. I think ya’ll should wear it.”