SENIOR BOWL Gameday thoughts & All-Game Team

By | February 1, 2016

Another Senior Bowl is in the record books and it’s now time to pour over 5 days worth of notes and replay the action in my dreams (I hope). After my 500 mile drive from Mobile back to Orlando Sunday I am now ready to present my Game All-Star team.

QB DAK PRESCOTT/MISS STATE
RB TYLER ERVIN/SAN JOSE STATE
WR JAY LEE/BAYLOR
WR PAUL McROBERTS/SE MISSOURI STATE
TE JERELL ADAMS/SOUTH CAROLINA
TE NICK VANNETT/OHIO STATE
T VADAL ALEXANDER/LSU
T JOHN THEUS/GEORGIA
G JOSH GARNETT/STANFORD
G CODY WHITEHAIR/KANSAS STATE
C NICK MARTIN/NOTRE DAME

DE SHAWN OAKMAN/BAYLOR
DE SHELDON DAY/NOTRE DAME
DT VERNON BUTLER/ALABAMA
DT JARRAN REED/ALABAMA
LB TYLER MATAKEVICH/TEMPLE
LB DEION JONES/LSU
LB KENTRELL BROTHERS/MISSOURI
CB CYRUS JONES/ALABAMA
CB TAVON YOUNG/TEMPLE
CB HARLAN MILLER/SE LOUISIANA
S DARIAN THOMPSON/BOISE STATE
S K.J. DILLON/WEST VIRGINIA

ST/K ROSS MARTIN/DUKE

Yes I can count, but I was unable to break it down to only 23 guys. I saw TE as a toss-up, as well as 1 CB spot. Besides the FB position was barely used in the game so why not an extra TE.

GAME THOUGHTS:
Here’s hoping that the QB count drops down to 3 per team for 2017. We were concerned in the broadcast booth that JEFF DRISKEL might not even get on the field. 4 QB per team is too many to work with be it practice or the game.

Kudos to MICHIGAN OC/GRAHAM GLASGOW for finding out Friday of the Shrine Week that he was being invited to Mobile. He stayed to play in the Shrine Game, then traveled to Mobile and did everything they asked to all week. Too many players get the call from Mobile and depart the Shrine venue immediately, leaving them short on players.

TYLER ERVIN/RB/SAN JOSE STATE made my All-Game team and got my attention with his versatility for the North Offense on Saturday. ERVIN was the all purpose yards leader for the game with 130 total yards. He gained 39 rushing, 42 receiving, 38 on kick returns and 11 on punt returns. That’s the kind of versatility NFL teams look for out of littler guys (5’10/192).

I will still maintain that NICK MARTIN ain’t no ZACH MARTIN, but his in-game performance was impressive to me. He looked just OK during practices all week, but was the best OC out on the field Saturday. He held up in pass-pro overall and opened some nice running seams.

DAK PRESCOTT/QB/MISS STATE has been a mystery to me the past two years. He’s been a great leader for the Bulldogs, but often seemed to come up just short against big time opponents. His work of the South leading them to a TD on a two-minute drive at the end of the first half was very impressive. He showed good clock management, solid passing work, escapability under pressure and excellent ball faking/handling.

In terms of coaches’ strategy, and fairness to both teams the two-minute drills in the 1st & 3rd Quarters left me cold. A saw chaos by both coaches and players, and in a game where keeping the game in a 3-hour window is important, it really seemed to drag the game out. The first quarter ran over 40 minutes on the real clock. My old-guy approach is, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it! Go back to regular rules please Phil.

Just as expected, the DL groups for both teams pretty much dominated the game. Several folks complained to me that the teams needed to air it out more and go long. My contention is that if you look at sacks, knockdowns & QB hurries it should be clear that the OLs could not protect the QB group long enough for many deep patterns to be run.

If you go to the Senior Bowl website and pull up game stats you will realize that this game was played more evenly on the field than the final 27-16 score indicated. Total 1st Downs: North, 18; South 21. Net yards: North, 332; South, 353. Time of possession: North, 28:17, South, 31:43. Other than the blocked Kick by the North, there were no turnover/takeaways for either team.

I thought overall game quality was good. The weakest aspect of the game was probably the work of the Punters, despite the wind being relatively mild for Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The gross average per punt barely made it to 40 yards and hang times were mediocre at best.

JARRAN REED/DT/ALABAMA gets a special shout out from me for his competitiveness. In our Friday radio broadcast production meeting with Phil Savage, he advised us that REED & RAGLAND might only play a series or two to avoid excessive injury exposure. Understood, since they were the two biggest names to show up for the game. RAGLAND followed that game plan, but REED just couldn’t turn off the competitive juices once play got underway. He was still on the field in the fourth quarter chasing the ball to the sideline and collapsing the pocket up the middle. Well done young man!

My final count on SHELDON DAY (unofficial) was that his helmet only came off once, way back in the 1st Quarter. Also nice work on his part to slide out to DE quite a bit because of end of the week injuries along the North DL. He more than held his own outside, and got some decent pocket pressure off the corner as well.

One more shout out, this time to ED “gas tank” EAGAN the very late roster addition from NW Louisiana, the little wideout saw a lot of playing time for the North and responded with 2 receptions as well as a 20-yard kick return. Also good work to Phil Savage and his staff for having a solid list of back-up players to get to the game to replenish rosters as needed.

Finally, a big thanks to LEE & RANDY for having me in the radio booth with them. I hope I didn’t step on their tongues too many times. I also hope listeners didn’t feel we were having too much fun up there. It sure felt like we were to me. My cheeks hurt all night from smiling so much.

Thanks for the hospitality Mobile, and I hope to be back in the bay area again in 2017 for my 20th straight Senior Bowl Week.

Cheers, as Colin would say!

Pigskin Paul