COLUMBIA — Jacquies Smith didn’t even watch the video after his injury against Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 3. The Missouri coaches told him the footage of him dislocating his elbow was too nasty, and that he would be better off just moving on.
“I saw it on the field and it looked pretty gross,” teammate Brad Madison said. “At first sight, you’re kind of just worried about him.”
Despite the gruesome nature of the injury, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel announced Monday that the senior defensive end will be available to play at Oklahoma on Saturday, and Smith was listed first on the depth chart at defensive end.
The move couldn’t come at a better time for Missouri, who faces a big-time road test in Norman this weekend. Smith is the second-most experienced player on Missouri’s defense, with 20 career starts.
“He’s one of our leaders, one of our captains. Just his presence says a whole lot and does a whole lot for our defense,” safety Kenji Jackson said. “He’s one of those guys, we look up to him.”
The defense remained confident during Smith’s absence, though it had mixed results. The Tigers allowed 37 points against Arizona State, while shutting out FCS foe Western Illinois.
“Not to say that we don’t want him back, but we have players and players that can fill that void while he was gone,” Jackson said. “Confidence, that’s not a worry for us, I don’t feel like.”
Smith, though, felt like his leadership would be a legitimate asset when the Tigers are faced with a top-ranked opponent and over 80,000 screaming fans.
“I think just being able to tell our younger guys how it feels to be in those type of environments, it’s going to be rocking,” Smith said. “Just being out there on the field, being able to talk to my guys, being able to help them out, I think it will do a great deal for them.”
The offensive line will also get a boost. Pinkel said center Travis Ruth was 100 percent and would be ready to start Saturday. Ruth saw limited action against Western Illinois, and Pinkel said that Ruth passed the real test Sunday morning.
“He felt real good when he woke up,” Pinkel said. “That’s the most important thing after you play with that kind of injury, you’ve got to see how you feel the next day and he wasn’t sore at all.”
With Ruth back at center, Jayson Palmgren moves back to his natural position at left guard, giving the offensive line an extra advantage heading into this season’s toughest test.
“However much experience you have on the offensive line, playing there at the snap of the football, making calls, and all the things you have to do is a whole different situation,” Pinkel said. “We’re getting guys and moving them back to where we originally thought they would be.”
The Palmgren move bumps Jack Meiners into a backup role at left guard. Meiners will still play some, according to Pinkel.
Wide receiver Gahn McGaffie also returned to the depth chart. McGaffie had been out for the first three games with a sprained knee.