- Steve Muench, Scouts Inc.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Here are the final observations from the East-West Shrine Game.
The quarterbacks failed to shine in fourth quarter. Kansas State's Collin Klein is a great leader who has made some plays with his feet, but his deep pass down the left sideline hung in the air too long and he threw a wobbler to TE Chris Pantale over the middle. Klein was bailed out by a pass interference call on Vanderbilt DC Trey Wilson on a deep throw down the right sideline.
Nevada DC Khalid Wooten made a great play on the Klein pick. Wooten stayed with speedy Virginia Tech WR Corey Fuller, located the ball and came down with the interception. It comes as no surprise to those who saw him make a similar play in practice Thursday.
SMU RB Zach Line, who is 233 pounds, is known for his power, not his wiggle. No one is going to confuse him with Barry Sanders. Yet time and time again he has shown enough lateral mobility to hit the seam when he's been forced to adjust his path.
Arkansas Pine-Bluff OT Terron Armstead was flagged for holding, but it was hiccup in what has been a strong overall week. He matched up well with South Carolina DE Devin Taylor during practice and showed he can play with the big boys this week. Taylor has been all over the place. He got in on a tackle on a receiver screen.
Another smaller school prospect who has turned some heads this week is Princeton DE Mike Catapano. He tipped a pass by Western Michigan QB Alex Carder and almost got his hands on another. He read Carder and timed his jumps well.
Carder got into an early rhythm, throwing a couple of quick hitters to WR Anthony Amos, but got greedy and failed to see Georgia CB Branden Smith rotating over on an interception. That's what you want from Smith. He tracked the ball well, went up and got it.
Taylor outsprinted Carder to the sideline on a rollout and ran over Kansas OT Tanner Hawkinson on his way to sacking Carder. Taylor continues to stand out amid the defensive linemen here. While power clearly gives Hawkinson some problems in pass protection, he moves well and had the best week of practice when it comes to the West offensive line.
Southeastern Louisiana and former Ole Miss QB Nathan Stanley flashed at times this week, but he has been inconsistent, which continued in the game. While he has shown above average arm strength, he left a fade too far inside looking for Rutgers TE D.C. Jefferson in the right corner of the end zone, and Illinois CB Terry Hawthorne came down with the pick. Stanley is another guy who needs to learn how to slide feet first.
Louisiana-Lafayette CB Melvin White missed a tackle trying to rip the ball out of Amos' hands. It's been one of many missed tackles today, and that's part of the problem of not practicing live tackling during the week. In fairness to the coaching staffs, it's a bit of a catch-22 because they have a greater responsibility to protect these prospects as best they can.
UCLA CB Aaron Hester was flagged for pass interference working against Virginia WR Marcus Davis twice. The ball looked like it may have been uncatchable on the second one, but that makes it worse for Hester, who had no business making contact at that point.
Vanderbilt RB Zac Stacy dropped what should have been a routine catch. Though drops have not been an issue during the week, he had some problems fielding the ball cleanly. He fought it a little and generally trapped it with his frame.
It was a tough game for Mount Union WR Jasper Collins. He was flagged for a false start and also muffed a punt. Vanderbilt CB Trey Wilson did a nice job of scooping up the ball and securing it before he crossed out of bounds.
Arizona QB Matt Scott gets set quickly and has a quick throwing motion. He had his best practice in terms of accuracy Thursday, and that momentum appeared to carry over into the game. The touchdown pass to Mississippi State WR Chad Bumphis may have been a questionable decision, but it was an excellent throw. Scott needs to work on that slide a little bit, but he is showing that he can pick up yards with his feet.
Georgia DC Branden Smith has above average quickness and gets in good position. The problem is he has to time his jump and play the ball better.
Kansas State QB Collin Klein's accuracy was clearly an issue. He missed Boston College TE Chris Pantale in the flat and missed WR Emory Blake on a deep out. He found Blake over the middle earlier but forced him to drop down to make catch. Blake continues to catch passes with his body. Klein also forced Temple RB Montel Harris to make a diving catch at the end of the first quarter.
Georgia DT/DE Izaan Cross tipped Texas Tech QB Seth Doege's pass. Doege is just 6 feet tall, so tipped passes are a concern. He is moving well and showing he can buy time to create passing windows, but he has to sense pressure closing in and cover the ball up instead of getting strip sacked.
East running backs appeared to be settling down after early jitters. Pittsburgh's Ray Graham fumbled on the first play when he wasn't even hit. He just lost the handle on the ball. Temple RB Montel Harris mishandled a kickoff return and had to take a knee.
Graham later made crisp cuts and looked quick. Harris fair-caught a punt at the 9-yard line with the punt cover team closing in and did a nice job of diving for the ball at the end of the first quarter.
South Carolina DE Devin Taylor closed well and did a good job of stripping the ball out on the strip sack. It's nice to see UNH LB Matt Evans, who has not had a great week, come up with fumble. He was very Johnny-on-the-spot.
Purdue CB Josh Johnson has been up and down after a good week. He got away with grabbing Iowa WR Keenan Davis' jersey near the goal line. He undercut Middle Tennessee State WR Anthony Amos on a route and could have had a pick if the ball had been thrown better. He missed a tackle on third down, and Bumphis picked up the first.
Louisiana Tech QB Colby Cameron got away with locking onto receivers for a while, but Kansas State CB Nigel Malone made him pay by turning a telegraphed throw into a pick-six. Malone has shown good ball skills during practice this week. Cameron has also benefited from sloppy tackling on the outside, but he has to learn to slide with his feet first or he is going to take too many big hits.
Nevada TE Zach Sudfeld may have dropped his first pass all week. Nice hit by South Florida DC Kayvon Webster, but I don't think Sudfeld would have come down with the ball regardless. The ball looked like it was already deflecting off his hands. He rebounded with a nice catch over the middle on the next play, which is somewhat important. There is a difference between making plays when you know defenders have to thud tackle in practice and making plays when defenders have the green light to clean your clock in the game. Sudfeld also did a nice job of throwing a block that helped spring Bumphis for a touchdown.
UConn LB Sio Moore closed well and brought down 221-pound Texas A&M RB Christine Michael. Michael ran hard and picked up a few tough yards between the tackles despite not getting defined seams, but he can't put the ball on the ground like he did with less than two minutes left in the first half.
Florida K Caleb Sturgis has been outstanding in terms of range and accuracy this week.
Steve Muench looks at the performances in the East-West Shrine Game.