In 2010, Missouri's defensive line was one of the strengths of the team, despite losing two of their best players for a significant portion of the season.
Aldon Smith missed three games in the middle of the season with a broken leg, and played the remainder of the season at less than full strength. Yet, the sophomore DE performed well enough to warrant First-Team All-Conference selection, before making the call earlier this month to fore-go the remainder of his college eligibility, and enter the NFL Draft. Aldon's two most memorable moments of the season were his interception against Oklahoma, and his fumble-forcing sack of Carson Coffman, that wrapped up the Kansas State win.
Junior DT Dominique Hamilton broke his ankle early in the Oklahoma game, and missed the rest of the season. His absence was actually missed more than was Aldon Smith's, mostly because the Tigers were a lot deeper at defensive end than at defensive tackle. When Aldon Smith went down, sophomore Brad Madison stepped up and played very well, garnering Second-Team All-Big 12 recognition. In addition, RSF DE Michael Sam played very well in his first season on the field.
Junior DE Jacquies Smith garnered Second-Team All-Big 12 honors himself, for his outstanding performance this season. Smith has demonstrated a nose for the football, and for the end zone, during his Missouri career. He was right there to scoop up Carson Coffman's fumble, and ran it in for the score.
After Hamilton went down, junior DT Terrell Resonno stepped up his play, but was also faced with double-teams on most plays. Sophomore DT Jimmy Burge moved into the starting line-up, and junior DT Brendan Donaldson saw increased playing time, as well. Perhaps the best thing to come out of Hamilton's absence was the emergence of RSF DT Marvin Foster, who took advantage of the opportunity to assert himself, and who saw increased playing time toward the end of the season.
Other defensive linemen who saw limited playing time for the Tigers are sophomore DE Marcus Malbrough, RSF DE Brayden Burnett, senior DT Bart Coslet, and sophomore DT George White.
Missouri's 37 sacks on the season ranks 9th in the country, and contributed to Missouri's much-improved pass defense. The Tigers gave up 4.11 yards/rushing attempt, which is a little bit higher than you'd like, and ranks around the middle of the pack for FBS teams. But, Missouri only gave up 12 rushing TDs, which ranks in the top 20.
Overall, Missouri's defensive line was improved over recent seasons, but experienced a drop-off when Hamilton went down, a testament to the lack of depth in the middle. The defensive end position was as strong as in any season under Coach Pinkel.