Senior Bowl Report: Tuesday's South Practice
Written by John Clifford on 01/20/2009
The South took the field at Ladd-Peebles for the first time on Tuesday afternoon, with standards team warm-ups breaking out to positional work: OL in 1-on-1, DL in footwork, DBs in footwork and sight/hands for the ball, etc.
My interest for the moment follows the 3 QBs working with the WRs and their route running. Immediately the passes are sailing, coming up behind the receivers, one after another. Pat White hits Ole Miss WR Mike Wallace on a 40-yard corner post route to end that drought. On sideline screens Wallace takes the ball into the body. Gamecocks WR Kenny McKinley follows suit. By contrast, Texas WR Quan Cosby takes the ball out of the air with his hands in a ready-to-ready stance and shows as much with his burst downfield. Two suspect throws on square-in route leaves receivers bobbling balls. My mind is drifting to Vegas (South has to be a favorite, but on execution early returns, North is going to smoke ‘em)… Cosby doesn’t run a particularly good route in terms of a square cut, but he makes up for it with his stretch in stride to snatch the ball with his hands and save the completion. And if a completion was ever “saved” it was the next one, Georgia WR Mohamed Massaquoi pulled in a mystifying one-handed grab. Kenny McKinley followed with a bobble he knew he should’ve reeled in. Mike Wallace, with a solid reception, leaves me wondering about this group and who’s pushing Cosby here? Him? Nobody? Ironically, given my thoughts on the receivers, Clemson QB Cullen Harper’s next throw lands short on a go route. Pat White then manages to hit Cosby. John Parker Wilson had his ball sail and land short.
The contrast in NFL-caliber arms between the trio of QBs on the North and South squads is staggering.
The offensive line is working zones, groups of three from center to tackle. Top prospect, Ole Miss OT, Michael Oher shows an elevated level of physical intensity in his play, more than the cliché “he has a mean streak” would do justice to, and that’s nice to see from a top prospect – and it reminds me of an interview given by Auburn’s Marcus McNeil during his practice week here – essentially saying his attitude and preparation is that he needs to always earn his spot. It clearly helped McNeil then. I’m not sure it can help Oher the same way, but my chips are going on Oher NOT being among the high draft pick tackle busts, and the aforementioned reasons among my thinking.
WRs and DBs face with McKinley beating Jackson State CB Domonique Johnson. Troy’s Sherrod Martin makes an outstanding defensive break up against Mike Wallace. McKinley once again lines up and has no trouble getting off the line and around the defender, this time it’s Wake Forest CB Alfonso Smith. Quan Cosby’s day has what feels like its first bump in the road when West Virginia DB Ellis Lankaster defends the pass. For a third consecutive rep, McKinley beats the defender, this time with even greater ease, facing Wake’s Chip Vaughn. Vaughn immediately redeems himself, lighting up Bulldogs WR Massaquoi on the next play. And finally, a DB, San Jose State’s Coye Francies jams up Kenny McKinley and gets the best of him.
In 9-on-11, the South OL was dominant, if this is any precursor to the game and play-calling (and perhaps my earlier handicapping and prediction), with a combination of hand offs and short passes behind it, but he play of the Herman Johnson from LSU and Michael Oher from Ole Miss, both just shoving people around and getting to the second level quickly, whenever the play required them to clear a path.
Moving to 5-wide versus 7 defenders, White opens it up with a horrible INT intended for Mike Wallace. On the next play, Southern Miss TE Shawn Nelson makes a great save, over the middle of the field and in a lot of traffic; he lays himself out to snatch the ball out of the air and hangs on. White completes his reps with a check down to Tennessee RB Arian Foster and right out of a Southwest Airlines commercial – “Wanna get away?” – He flat out drops the dump off pass, not off his shoulder pads, a biceps, nor his helmet – but off the fingertips of his two hands. Ouch.
Clemson RB James Davis has a nice catch and run underneath on a 3rd & 10. Harper makes McKinley work, with a terrible throw that’s behind and low. And it’s hard to imagine the same arm throws the next pass, 30 yards and perfectly over the defense to Bama TE Travis McCall. McCall’s teammate, John Parker Wilson tries, but cannot deliver the same throw, sailing it with too much air underneath, it comes up short, and Wake’s Alfonso Smith makes a nice play to intercept.
Pat White’s reps are highlighted with an NFL-caliber throw, over the corner and under the safety, to the sideline and over the outside shoulder (perfect placement and White would probably bank it and prefer not to shoot another reel take) – Mike Wallace does his part with a nice reception, completing the pass that’s delivered on-time and on-target.
Last Edited: 04/05/2009