by Pigskin Paul Guillemette
That faint echo you hear is the wailing and gnashing of teeth around the NFL in Personnel Departments as they pore over game tape from yesterday’s SHRINE GAME action and realize there is no way to deny the poor quality of QB play Saturday, other than the lone exception of VERNON ADAMS/Oregon.
And with ADAMS, we will now be bombarded with the RUSSELL WILSON comparisons for another month or more. For a quarter plus in the first half ADAMS really did look like WILSON, and the results were reflected on the scoreboard. ADAMS was 6/9, 191 yards, 3 TD passes, 0 INT. When the pocket broke down, which was often, ADAMS was able to keep plays alive with his eyes and legs. He took off twice for an additional 24 yards rushing. And the tape of the tape also begs for those comparisons to WILSON for the most part. He stands 5’105″ just like WILSON and is a bit lighter at 195 lbs. But the biggest number gap is in their hand size. One of the deciding factors for the Sea Hawks was that despite being under six-feet tall, WILSON’s hands were an impressive 10 1/2″ spread. ADAMS hands are very small at 8 3/4″. Gripping and spinning an NFL football may be a challenge at times for ADAMS when wet and cold weather hits, not to mention defenders trying to strip the ball from him. My guess is he will put up some athletic looking numbers at the Combine which will further compound the debate about his true pro potential. There can be no denying that he was head and shoulders above the other 5 QB once the actual game began in St. Pete last night.
A special shout-out to GRAHAM GLASGOW/OC/MICHIGAN who chose to stay and play in the game even though he was given a call on Friday and invited to participate in the upcoming Senior Bowl. That scenario has occurred in the past and in most instances I have seen players pack their bags and head immediately for Mobile leaving their Shrine Team another man short. GLASGOW stuck around and anchored the OL for the East. Well done Mr. Glasgow. See you in Mobile Tuesday morning.
I saw nothing during the game to change my opinion that this game featured two Punters who will both earn NFL jobs in the next year or so. Both WILL MONDAY and DREW KASER had excellent days in every aspect of the punting game. They both had serious impact on field position on the day. MONDAY had 6 punts for an average of 50.3 yards per. His 43.2 net average tells you that he had good hang time and allowed his coverage units to limit return yardage significantly. He had 1 Touchback and 1 placed inside the 20. That’s a really good day! But it’s possible that KASER was even more effective. KASER punted 5 times for an average of 49.6. His net average was even more impressive at 47.8, once again telling you his hang times were excellent. KASER had 0 Touchbacks, with 4 kicks downed inside the 20. Unless all the weekly talk of Special Teams value in the NFL is just cheap bar talk, then both of these guys could be draftable.
A major disappointment for many fans was the back injury that kept NAVY/QB/RB/KEENAN REYNOLDS from participating in the contest. But IMO it had a huge impact on the outcome of the game. Even though REYNOLDS was listed as a RB on the East roster HC CHARLIE WEISS had been using him in practices as a short yardage QB, running more of an option offense. His absence was likely a major factor in one of the more telling stats of the game. The East was a pathetic 1 of 15 on 3rd Down conversions. That translates to a 7% number. More than a few of those 3rd Downs were fairly short yardage where REYNOLDS might have made a huge difference with his running and decision making. Charlie Weiss and his Offensive game planning had to be missing REYNOLDS tremendously.
I cast my Game MVP votes for MIKE CAPUTO/S/WEST on D, and GERONIMO ALLISON/WR/WEST on O. But I understand why QB/VERNON ADAMS got the offensive award. And in retrospect, I perhaps should have voted for VICTOR OCHI/DE/EAST for that defensive award.
Here is my All-Star lineup for the game itself.
QB VERNON ADAMS/Oregon
RB JOSH FERGUSON/Illinois
FB DEREK WATT/Wisconsin
WR GERONIMO ALLISON/ILLINOIS
WR DANNY ANTHROP/Purdue
TE KIVON CARTWRIGHT/Colorado State
T BRANDON SHELL/South Carolina
T TYLER MARZ/Wisconsin
G ALEX HUETTEL/Bowling Green
G TED KARRAS/Illinois
C GRAHAM GLASGOW/Michigan
DE EKUBA ONYEMATA/Manitoba
DE VICTOR OCHI/Stony Brook
DT JAVON HARGRAVE/South Carolina State
DT CORY JOHNSON/Kentucky
LB JAMES BURGESS/Louisville
LB AARON WALLACE/UCLA
LB ANTONIO LONGINO/Arizona State
CB BRIAN POOLE/Florida
CB CRE’VON LEBLANC/Florida Atlantic
S MIKE CAPUTO/Wisconsin
S JUSTIN SIMMONS/Boston College
It was a great week of practices and the quality of the rosters was as good as I have seen in the last 7 years, since the move to Florida. No serious injuries occurred even though a total of 7 players who practiced last Monday were not healthy enough to play in Saturday’s game. I would say the biggest disappointment in the end was the overall poor QB play in the game.
See you next year Shriners, and I will be on the road to Mobile Monday morning.