Senior Bowl Notebook: South Squad Day Three

January 23rd, 2013

General Notes:
Didn’t spend a great deal of focus on them but here are some quotes & observations from my notes on other players:
Florida State LB Vince Williams made a couple of nice run fills, showing good key recognition and quick burst. He’s got an opportunistic flair to him that will appeal to teams like the Bears and Patriots.

LSU WR Russell Sheppard arrived to replace the injured Ryan Swope, and the net result is an upgrade for the South. Sheppard is extremely quick and very shifty with his shoulders and hips. He made some nice catches but also had a handful of ugly drops, particularly on higher throws.

Florida RB Mike Gillislee made an excellent open-field cut to get to the outside and rip off a big chunk of yardage. At the end of that play Georgia safety Shawn Williams laid him out with a vicious stiff arm to the shoulder just as Gillislee was stepping out of bounds. Several defensive coaches near me at the time were thrilled by this even if it would have drawn a flag and was probably over the line for an All Star Game practice.

Arkansas WR Cobi Hamilton really lacked sharp footwork in a sideline route/cut drill early, but in the team portion he caught a short pass near the sideline and quickly turned it inside past a completely flat-footed Robert Alford, who approached out of control. Hamilton then made another nice juke at full speed on the safety.

Add downfield blocking to the list of things that Louisiana Tech WR Quinton Patton does well. That list is very long.

Missouri LB Zaviar Gooden once again showed he can fly to the ball, and in this case he caught a deflection of an EJ Manuel pass and took it to the house for an easy pick-six.

I noted that it appears Stanford LB Chase Thomas is about to fall over all the time when he sprints. I don’t think he’s actually unbalanced but it’s quite aesthetically awful. And slow.

Lions Notes:
Yesterday I criticized the Lions for their philosophy in the secondary of coaching players to go for the strip instead of the sure tackle. Today’s critique is of the completely antiquated, utterly pointless Wide 9 technique. This is not hyperbole; every single rep in which the pass rusher lined up at Wide 9 the offensive tackles simply allowed them to get up the field and steered them well beyond the quarterback. On the rare occasions when someone tried to break it inside, the tackle has enough time to get a recovery step and push them forward even if the rusher gets across his face initially. Every single rep with this technique was an abhorrent failure. Plain and simple, teams have figured out how to counter it effectively and it takes a truly special talent outside to make it work. None of the pass rushers here meet that qualification, and not even someone as talented as Cliff Avril meets it very often at the next level. It’s time to scrap this and move onto something else.

The Lions made a minor coaching move in hiring Jim Washburn, who worked with Jim Schwartz in Tennessee. Washburn is a staunch proponent of the Wide 9, which deeply troubles me, but I like that his unofficial role is to help DL Coach Kris Kocurek with the pass rushers. Kocurek is a feisty guy and knows his stuff very well, but one frequent complaint is that the Lions defensive line players (notably the tackles) never seem to have a vast array of pass rush moves. Hopefully Washburn can bring more variety and different techniques to the table.

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