COLUMBIA — On the Missouri football team, Smith is the surname of sacks.
That's the last name of defensive ends Jacquies and Aldon. The two pass rushers are not related but share a name and much of the credit for the Tigers' defensive resurgence in 2010.
No. 15 Missouri (9-2, 5-2)
vs. Kansas (3-8, 1-6)
WHEN: 11:40 a.m.
WHERE: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City
RADIO: KTGR/1580 AM, KCMQ/96.7 FM
TV: Fox Sports Net
Missouri has won three of its past four games against Kansas, including two of the past three played at Arrowhead Stadium. A victory would give Missouri a 10-win season for only the fourth time. The Tigers also had 10 victories in 1960 (11-0), 2007 (12-2) and 2008 (10-4).
Aldon Smith is one of the top defensive ends in the nation. As a redshirt freshman in 2009, he had 11.5 sacks in 13 games. Entering the 2010 season, college football pundits everywhere expected big things from him. A two-sack, three-tackle for loss performance in Missouri's 2010 season opener against Illinois confirmed the high expectations, but a broken leg and three missed games derailed Smith's seemingly inevitable season of dominance.
Jacquies Smith, a junior, has been a steady constant on the Missouri defense for three years. He doesn't have a flashy game, but his all-around ability has been invaluable to the Tigers.
While he said he is not completely recovered from his broken leg, a not-quite-there Aldon Smith is still an elite pass rusher. And with him back, the Smiths are again bookends on the Missouri defensive line — sometimes.
Both Smiths have spent time in the middle of the defensive line when Missouri lines up four defensive ends on opponents' passing downs. The formation, called "scorpion" in 2009, is called "candy" in 2010.
Aldon Smith is credited with naming the formation "candy," he says it's because the formation is sweet. Whatever the formation is called, the Smiths are either getting sacks or setting up others for them.
"Jacquies does a great job, going out there and doing his thing," Aldon Smith said, "I think we feed off each other. I feed off him definitely, I think he feeds off of me. Whenever he makes a play, I have to go out there and make one too."
This season, Aldon Smith has 26 solo tackles and four and a half sacks while Jacquies Smith has 21 solo tackles and five and a half sacks. Neither sack total leads the team, though. That honor goes to Brad Madison, who has seven and a half so far this season. A solid defensive end in his own right, Madison has been the beneficiary of double-teamed Smiths. Whether it is Aldon or Jacquies, or both, getting the extra attention, Madison and fellow defensive end Michael Sam are capitalizing on the opportunities.
Aldon Smith is more than happy to take on two men for his teammates to get a sack.
"I think it helps a lot," he said. "Knowing that you have a lot of playmakers on the field, that's what any defense wants, the more playmakers you have, the better chance you have of making a play."
Moving the Smiths around on the defensive line has given Missouri defensive coordinator Dave Steckel other ideas. Against Iowa State, both Smiths were moved off of their defensive end positions at times, with Jacquies Smith playing defensive tackle and Aldon Smith playing outside linebacker.
"Wherever they put me, I can play it, and I can make a little contribution there," Aldon Smith said after the game.
Both Smith made a contribution last Saturday. Jacquies Smith had two sacks against the Cyclones with Aldon Smith consistently marked by two Iowa State offensive linemen in Missouri's shutout victory.
Despite having the same last name and similar success at the same position, the Smiths have different personalities. Aldon Smith is a jokester who hinted that his broken leg was "just a cramp." A funny guy to be around, it's often hard to tell if Aldon is kidding or not. His perfectly-timed cold stare and tennis racquet-sized hands make it even harder to ask if he is joking.
Jacquies Smith is a finalist in the nicest-guy-on-the-team contest. While he isn't immune from joking around, he is the Tigers' resident keeper of perspective. Jacquies Smith's maturity has helped the younger Aldon Smith thrive as much as any coach.
"I think that me and him have a great relationship. He's one of my best friends on my team," Aldon Smith said. "Jacquies is like my big brother ... he's been helping me a lot since I've been here."
"Aldon Smith has all the physical tools, everyone can see that," Jacquies Smith said. "The mental part of the game, watching film, stuff like that, that's the stuff I help him with."
On the field, it's harder to find a difference between the Smiths. But Jacquies Smith thinks he has found one.
Jacquies Smith has a scoring percentage that would make any offensive player jealous, and it drives Aldon Smith crazy. On the three occasions Jacquies Smith has held the ball in his Missouri career, he has scored a touchdown.
The touchdown Jacquies Smith scored on a fake punt play in 2009 against Colorado makes Aldon Smith especially jealous. Aldon doesn't have a touchdown, he blames his broken leg for preventing him from getting in the end zone when he intercpeted a pass against Colorado this season.
"Being the other Smith isn't so bad if you're going to score touchdowns," Jacquies Smith said. "I'm three-for-three with the ball in my hands, and I think Aldon is O-for-one. That's the difference right there."