Tyron Smith vs. Clay Matthews: A Trojan Reunion

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

A pair of college teammates will square off against each other in what promises to be a showdown of two of the more talented players at their respective positions.

When the Green Bay Packers come to town to face the Dallas Cowboys, the cheeseheads will bring with them one of the most dangerous pass-rushing linebackers in the NFL; Clay Matthews, III. Over his first four seasons in the league, the third-generation professional football player is making a mark on the league that is worthy of his notable pedigree. During that time, Matthews recorded a total of 42.5 sacks and added an additional 154 quarterback pressures. Although his production this season has not been up to its normal standards (Clay has only recorded six sacks this season), that is due to his missing a month of the season because of a thumb injury. Once he did return to the field Matthews was forced to play through several games while wearing a "Sean Lee Q-Tip" to protect his injury. Now that Matthews is healthy, he is ready to help the Packers fight their way back into the playoff picture. He is not the type of player to let anyone stand in his way.

While Matthews has spent the past four seasons blowing around right tackles and zeroing in on opposing quarterbacks, along the way earning four consecutive Pro Bowl appearances, that guy is no more. For 2013, Matthews has switched sides, and he now spends his Sunday afternoons working against left tackles. For the Cowboys, this is a good piece of news. While Doug Free has made tremendous strides in recovering his game as the Dallas right tackle, most of us feel more confident with Tyron Smith being assigned to handle the Packers pass rushing machine. The young Dallas lineman has proven himself as a bankable commodity this season.

Smith has developed into one of the top left tackles in the game today; in the thoughts of many around the league, he is playing at a Pro Bowl level this year. Fresh off of his match-up against Chicago Bears DE Julius Peppers, where Dallas wasted a dominating effort by their young offensive lineman, Smith is playing the best football of his brief career. For a big man, the Cowboys left tackle has surprising athletic ability and quickness that will help him deal with the Green Bay pass rushing menace. He also has the tenacity to stay after his man all afternoon long. That fire is something that is needed to take Matthews out of the equation.

When Smith faces Matthews, he will get a player that plays with relentless effort and passion. He is one of those players that never stops coming at you, but Smith knows all of this from their days together at USC. - Bryan Broaddus

The pending showdown between the two former Trojans has the potential to become a classic contest. Matthews is a complete pass rusher who brings an full arsenal of moves to the equation, while Smith has shown the ability to handle what some of the best rushers in the game have thrown his way. Both men have the necessary power and can use their strength to dominate their opponent, but they have also shown that they can go the other direction and get the job done by using technique and athleticism to achieve victory. Both Smith and Matthews play with a relentless motor on game day. Neither is a "specialist" good at only one thing; they excel in all the aspects of their respective jobs, they are equally adept in both passing and running situations. Sunday's confrontation will be a battle of guys who pack their lunch and put in an honest day's work. For fans of the game, it should be fun to watch, after all, this is what real football was always meant to be. Over at the mothership, Broaddus summed up what it is going to take for Tyron Smith to be successful this coming weekend:

Smith’s athletic ability will give him the ability to match Matthews, but he is going to need to find a way to outwork him on each and every play because Matthews will not quit until he gets to the ball.

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