October 8, 2009

Closer Look: Miller versus Okung

Texas A&M junior Von Miller's move to the jack position has helped the hybrid defensive end/linebacker to the national lead in sacks with nine, leading the country by averaging 2.25 per game. Against Arkansas, Miller had just one sack but made his presence felt in the backfield and in limiting the Razorback run game despite being double teamed on just about every play.

If he wasn't double-teamed, Miller made Arkansas pay. This Saturday, however, things might be different as Miller will face arguably the top offensive tackle in the nation in Oklahoma State senior Russell Okung.

The 6-foot-5, 300-pound Okung is a four-year starter for the Cowboys and routinely punishes defensive linemen that come his way. With his ability, and the added ability of four-year starter Brady Bond at right tackle, OSU is able to go one-on-one on the outside and allow the interior linemen to go three-on-two against tackles or have an extra hand to pick up blitzes.

Okung has all the tools that is making him a potential top pick in next spring's NFL Draft. He has tremendous athleticism for a player his size and an extremely quick kick step. He uses his long arms well in keeping pass rushers off his body and in front of him and is also very good in run blocking and getting to the next level.

But all that will be tested against Miller. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound junior gives up size to Okung obviously, but it's his speed and agility that makes Miller so tough to block. For most tackle, Miller can just speed rush off the edge and beat them. He has a very quick first step that forces tackles to drop back into a set quickly. And that's when Miller is able to plant his outside foot and duck in underneath for a direct shot at the quarterback.

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