Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Russell Okung vs. Oregon (2008)
By Kip Earlywine
Sorry about taking so long from part I. I haven't talked about my personal life much, but I've been unemployed for a while... but that's changing soon and recently I've started preparing for a new job with a small business. For other reasons as well (including an HTML class and wanting to take a break from football for a little while), I just haven't had the time or energy to finish.
Today I finally looked at the first of my two 2008 OSU games. This one was the final game of the 2008 season for OSU, the Holiday Bowl against Oregon.
(Off-topic notes: (1) Zac Robinson was terrible in the first two games I watched. He simply killed his team's ability to move the ball with terrible decision making. Robinson did have a good 2008 season, and in the first half, he was pretty good here too. Unfortunately, his accuracy completely disappeared in the 4th quarter, he made Mike Teel look like Peyton Manning in comparison, and it cost his team a close game that they led for much of the contest. Through 3 games, I'm pretty happy the Seahawks didn't take a flier on him. (2) Three other Seahawks: Max Unger, Nick Reed, and Walter Thurmond, received a lot of face time in this game. Thurmond in particular had a very interesting game, and I'm excited about his future as a Seahawk. On one hand, he did little to stop Dez Bryant, who was a beast in this game. But Thurmond contributed with big plays throughout and flashed very good athleticism and polish. He made a circus interception on his back to end the 1st half, then opened the 2nd half with a 95 yard kickoff return inside the 5 yard line. He later even shed a down-field block by Russell Okung himself to tackle Zac Robinson and limit the damage of a successful trick play. (3) No .gifs this time :(. My efforts to secure a free gif host server with good bandwidth tolerance were unsuccessful. I actually have access to a host right now, but I don't yet know how to use it. I'm in the process of being trained. I'm hoping that if I contribute to this blog for next year's draft, I'll have figured out how to host gifs by that time, because I think gifs make these reports a lot more fun.)
Areas of strength:
Players tend to be at their most polished state when playing their final game of the season and this was true in this game as well as Okung's game against Ole Miss in 2009. Okung allowed no sacks and no penalties while facing the tenacious and annoying (and productive) Nick Reed on almost every snap. Okung did have 3 mistakes though against Reed, and all of them resulted in hurried throws, two for incompletions, and a couple rough QB hits. I was pretty surprised by Reed's ability to lay a hit. For what its worth, all of these mistakes were mental, including one play in the 2nd quarter where Reed ran unabated as Okung stared off in the distance, thinking about hot dogs or something. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not. Are mental lapses fixable? After watching Seneca Wallace this year, I'm not very sure about that.
Nick Reed is a quick DE with a good inside move and fast edge rush. When Okung wasn't day-dreaming, he was with Reed step for step all game long which is very impressive given the difference in size between these two men. On at least a few plays, Okung actually tossed Reed around like a rag-doll, including a pass play for OSU's 2nd TD of the game. When Reed beat Okung in this game, it was because Okung was caught sleeping. When Okung beat Reed in this game, it was utter domination.
Overall, a few mental lapses aside, I thought Okung showed legitimate top 5 overall pick pass pro ability. He showed excellent footwork and hand use, and expertly picked up stunts and inside/outside moves. He was excellent as usual against the bull-rush and appropriately it was only rarely that an Oregon defender even attempted to bull him.
As a run blocker, this game comes somewhere in between the previous two games I covered. His drive blocking is pretty mediocre especially for his size and build, but his agility allowed him to get outside contain on Nick Reed on several outside sweeps, which is one of the toughest blocks to make for most linemen especially against a DE with Reed's agility.
Okung had very few negatives in this game, and his ability to play well at the end of each season is a positive sign in a few ways. It shows that he is capable of improving week to week and good play late in the year is often the byproduct of excellent physical resilience and durability.
Areas of weakness:
I've scouted three games now, and Okung has shown some pretty head-scratching mental errors in all three. It makes me worry that like Seneca Wallace, he might be hampered by a minor but significant mental disability of some sort. Which isn't to say Okung isn't smart or has serious mental issues, just that some people are born more mistake prone than others and Okung appears to be one of them. So far at least. Okung has a ton of talent and if the mistakes are fixable, he could be an all-pro LT. Okung is either going to blossom under Gibbs... or drive Gibbs utterly insane. There will be no middle ground.
Other than the mental lapses, I can only nitpick really. I don't like how Okung is a minimum effort guy. When he gives 100% effort- you can really tell because he just manhandles the opposition. That happened a few times in this game, and it was awesome, but if only it would happen every snap. Okung is the type that doesn't use maximum effort because he can skate by at 80% and still win. He'll stand and watch plays when he thinks his task is done. He's horrible at 2nd level blocks (just one good 2nd level block all game long), and part of that is a poor straight line speed, but its mostly due to lacking a mean-streak and killer instinct.
Overall, this was a solid performance by Okung which is fairly consistent with his other performances. Okung is a very talented lineman with terrific tools, and because he's so blessed, he rides those tools to easy victories instead of going the extra mile for true greatness. The mental lapses worry me and I think they could hold him back throughout his pro career, and his run blocking overall leaves something to be desired, but his overall pass protection, mental goof-ups and all, is still very good.
Posted by Kip Earlywine