The East team beat the West in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl this afternoon, 30-17. I predicted a West victory, but Tajh Boyd must have been angered by my prediction and threw three touchdowns to prove me wrong.
(I hope you know the meaning of sarcasm.)
Most Impressive Offensive Player
Tie: Tajh Boyd, QB, and Bryce Brown, RB (East team)
Boyd didn't start the game, but he was the best quarterback for either team. He completed 7-of-9 passes for 187 yards and 3 TD's. That's an average of 20+ yards per attempt. One throw was a questionable decision where Boyd threw into double coverage to Corey Brown. Luckily, Corey Brown was wearing his Superman underpants and outleaped both defenders to make an excellent catch in the end zone. Running back Bryce Brown was named co-MVP of the game with Boyd after catching a 60-yard and 41-yard TD passes. Bryce Brown looked like the fastest player on the field and he outran linebackers on both TD catches to get open. He also looked elusive and powerful when running the ball.
Most Impressive Defensive Player
Willie Downs, SS
Downs is an athlete committed to Florida State. He hadn't played defense for his entire senior year before practice this week, but the shortage of defensive backs on the East team necessitated a move from receiver to safety. Downs turned out to be the best defensive player on either team. He intercepted a first quarter pass by AJ McCarron and returned it 49 yards for a touchdown. He also had at least one pass deflection and forced a fumble, along with making several tackles.
Analysis of Michigan Commits
William Campbell, DT
I was thoroughly disappointed in Campbell's performance. He's a better player than what he showed in this game. He started at defensive tackle and played sparingly subbing for Xavier Nixon at left offensive tackle. He consistently stood straight up at defensive tackle and played pattycake with the offensive guard before trying to chase down the play. Campbell might have been able to knock around the average high school lineman with a forearm shiver or two, but you can't do that with elite players. His effort was subpar. It was a meaningless game in the sense that nobody really cares who wins these all-star games; nonetheless, it showed that he didn't take the game seriously, which brings his discipline and competitive drive into question. He seems like a good teammate and a good kid, so I think he'll do fine at Michigan. But it does scare me a little bit because former highly touted, mammoth defensive linemen at Michigan (Alan Branch, Gabe Watson) have been guilty of taking too many plays off.
Jeremy Gallon, WR
Gallon received rave reviews early in the week for his ability to get open and create plays for himself. Unfortunately, he sustained a bit of a groin pull in the middle of the week that hampered him for the remainder of the week's practices. That injury might have prevented him from seeing significant playing time in the game, because Jake Golic and Orson Charles both saw extended time in the slot, and neither of them is a typical slot receiver. Still, Gallon caught a 34-yard pass through a tight window from Tajh Boyd and made an excellent special teams tackle. He will likely be a contributor as a freshman in 2009, returning kicks, working from the slot, or both.
Anthony Lalota, DE
I am not very impressed by Lalota's skills. He's a recent convert to football, having not played until his junior year of high school. So significant improvement may still be forthcoming. However, he is very raw as a defensive end and usually tries to beat offensive tackles by bull rushing with 100% effort. I love the effort and that hard work could turn him into a very good player, but at 6'6" and 260 lbs., he reminds me of former Michigan player Pat Massey, which is generally not considered to be a good thing by Michigan fans. As far as I saw, he didn't make any plays in the game, and I wouldn't expect him to play significantly at Michigan for at least a couple years.
Justin Turner, CB
Turner already has a college body and college skills. I'm encouraged by what I saw today. He did get beaten for a touchdown by Patrick Patterson, but he had excellent coverage on that play and Patterson made a highlight reel, leaping, one-handed catch. Turner later had an acrobatic interception to go along with a half dozen tackles or so. He'll be ready to contribute in the fall, most likely as a slot corner or a safety.
Brendan Gibbons, K
Gibbons had a mercurial performance today. His first kickoff was short; his second kickoff was excellent. His first extra point squeezed just inside the post; his first field goal attempt split the uprights. A 46-yard field goal attempt was about as wide right as you can get. He also had an extra point attempt blocked. One thing I noticed on the blocked field goal was that he was shuffling his feet when he was waiting for the snap. I'm not sure if that was out of nervousness, a bad habit he has, or something he was coached to do. But it didn't seem like he was ready to be moving when the ball was snapped, which slowed down his approach by a split second. The kick might have still been blocked, but either way, Gibbons has some things to work on. He does have a strong leg, though, which is a great building block.
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