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Russell Okung and the Man Who Wasn't There

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Highlights are particularly useless for an offensive lineman. Good linemen can be quiet and bad linemen flashy and inconsistent. That they contribute on every play, at least as a presence and typically as a factor, is the strongest argument I know of for the importance of an offensive lineman. Even quarterbacks spend a good portion of the game as spectators. Hand off, roll away from the action. Throw a screen, hope the blockers and receiver make it work. Linemen do not get plays off. There is always someone to block.

Walter Jones could upend a defender. He could ride him 15 yards and put him down like a lame mule. He could turn, pancake, drive, pull, angle and trap. What made Jones great is that when he wasn't amazing he wasn't there. He wasn't there. The defender wasn't there. The quarterback was there, calmly, concertedly making his reads, not a neuron worried about his blindside. Multitasking is a lie. Hail the uncluttered mind. Hail the man that helped turn the frenetic and doubt-filled Matt Hasselbeck into the cool, decisive quarterback he would become.

Russell Okung can do that. Can Russell Okung do that? Not for Hasselbeck, but for...

1. 1st and 10 at OKST 20 Zac Robinson rush for a loss of 5 yards to the OKSt 15.

Okung catches Gerald McCoy partway through a spin and forms a two-man conga line. Sooners overload left and catching Robins partway through his suck. Sack, recorded as a rush.

2. 2nd and 15 at OKST 15 Zac Robinson pass complete to Josh Cooper for no gain to the OKSt 15.

Quick pass right. Most of the play was not shown to accommodate a canned piece on the wind. Wind blows flags. Wind bloooooooooooooows. Back to you, Joel and Dave.

3. 3rd and 15 at OKST 15 Keith Toston rush for 6 yards to the OKSt 21, tackled by Jamell Fleming.

Option left. Frank Alexander gets into Okung's body and begins forcing him back and towards Robinson. Like last time, Okung sinks and sinks until Robinson moves outside Okung, and then Okung turns and chucks Alexander away from the quarterback. Robinson pitches and Toston takes, but the run is nowhere near the first.



1. 1st and 10 at OKST 13 Kendall Hunter rush for 7 yards to the OKSt 20.

Moves in, blocks McCoy.

2. 2nd and 3 at OKST 20 Keith Toston rush for 18 yards, fumbled, forced by Dominique Franks, recovered by OKSt Keith Toston at the OKSt 40 for a 1ST down.

Toston exploits a soft edge to explode into the second level. The edge is Okung's back. The Sooners misread the play and jam the middle. Okung is free to pull forward and set the edge, but he spills out largely untouched. Just after Toston clears him and bolts into the second level, Okung seeks out Austin Box and with an overextended and glancing push that sends the middle linebacker reeling. Upper body strength, not a concern.

3. 1st and 10 at OKST 40 Zac Robinson pass incomplete.

Play action, naked boot right. I can't tell you how often this play doesn't work. Alexander stays home and is in Robinson's face before Robinson can complete his bootleg. The throw away is preventative. Other possible outcomes: sack, fumble, interception. Okung leads the line left, selling the run. He pops then passes on the right defensive end. The left guard finishes off the staggered defender.

4. 2nd and 10 at OKST 40 Kendall Hunter rush for no gain to the OKSt 40, tackled by Keenan Clayton.

Okung pulls hard right but trips over the pile, specifically downed defender Alexander, and falls to the turf.

5. 3rd and 10 at OKST 40 Zac Robinson pass incomplete to Justin Blackmon, broken up by Brian Jackson.

It's Okung v. Alexander again, with predictable results: Okung shades and controls Alexander. He shows good hand placement inside the pads and though he recoils at first, he stymies then locks down Alexander. Incomplete. It's all sell and no product.