Stream of Consciousness - Senior Bowl
Posted Jan 28, 2007

It was a brutally ugly game played in the rain and cold, but there were still some impressive performances as Drew Stanton and the North shutout the South 27-0. Check out the play-by-play breakdown and recap of the 2007 Senior Bowl.

By Pete Fiutak  
Welcome again to my pretentious, goofy and self-serving stream-of-consciousness thoughts and notes on the big games, the broadcasts, the ads and the teams for the attention deficit disordered. E-mail me with your own thoughts and notes and what you'd like to see. 

It's the annual meat-market evaluation game known as the Senior Bowl. Most of the top players have already shown what they can do during the week of practice, and most of the biggest names will only do individual workouts, so the game is simply a time not to screw up and most importantly, not get injured. The fates of all these guys are almost already sealed in the minds of the NFL types, but that doesn’t mean they can’t blow it. The rule of thumb is that you can’t really help yourself in the game if you were a dog in practices, but you can certainly lose ground if you have a poor performance. However, an unknown can make a huge name for himself.

- This hasn't been a particularly star-studded week. This is generally seen as a mediocre draft year with few sure superstars. Of course, there are always big-time players out there, so the key in this game is to unearth which ones have the potential to grow into something special out of a class full of muck.

- This is a particularly big day for Chris Leak and Troy Smith. Everyone seems to be falling in love with Leak, but there's always a "if only" after talking about him. Like, "He throws the prettiest ball out here, if only he was a few inches taller." Or, "He has the demeanor and he has the leadership, if only he had a little bigger of an arm."

Smith has to be razor-sharp just to get everyone forgetting about the BCS Championship Game as quickly as possible.

- Mike Mayock is excellent. Dick Vermiel can be fantastic (although I've gotten into arguments on that). Three hours of Rich Eisen might be a bit much unless he plays it straight and lets this be Mayock's and Vermiel's show. Mayock will criticize and Vermiel will criticize before following it up with an excuse.

- Please. I hate faux jack-up speeches like the one Jon Gruden was just shown making. The actual game itself means absolutely nothing. It's not about playing as a team. It's about looking great and making money. That's all this showcase is for.

- The UnderArmour ad followed up by the XBox commercial. Go work out, and then sit on your ass and get fat on Taco Bell.

First Quarter

North on its own 25
- Ooooh. If he does nothing else all day, Ole Miss LB Patrick Willis came up with a monster hit on special teams that everyone will remember.
- Troy Smith air mails his first pass, gets his second pass tipped by Florida's Earl Everett. Note to Heisman boy ... stay, away, from Gators.
- No blitzing. There's absolutely for the quarterbacks to not be fantastic.
- Penn State OT Levi Brown moved up at least ten spots this week into the top ten. He just dominated another star of this week, Texas DE Tim Crowder
- Smith gets time and fires a nice strike to East Carolina's Aundrae Allison for a first down.
- There's no reason for that play. The North runs an end around which does absolutely nothing for everyone. The scouts want to see how the players can do straight up, and running a trick play when there's no blitzing and vanilla defenses are meaningless. Yeah, Washington State WR Jason Hill can run. We know that.
- This drive is all about seeing what Smith can do. So far, he's shown nothing special.
- Every little positive play matters for these guys. Penn State's Tony Hunt caught a nice pass and made a positive play.
- Whooooo. Rutgers RB Brian Leonard, a fullback who made himself a tailback this week, steamrolled over Pat Willis for a first down. Everyone's going to want Leonard, but no one knows what they want to do with him.
- Nice read by Hunt for a touchdown, but better play by Boston College OG Josh Beekman pulling around to spring the play. He showed great feet and steamrolled over a two defenders to make it happen.
North 7 ... South 0

South on its own 26
- Smith was the quarterback on the scoring drive, but that wasn't his drive. Now it's leak's turn.
- Yeesh. Leak rolled out and lofted a pass that took ten minutes to come down. Maryland's Josh Wilson had all day to make the play on LSU's Dwayne Bowe.
- Leak showed what he can do so well. He fired a nice strike to teammate Dallas Baker for a first down.
- Oregon State TE Joe Newton had a rough week with drops, and he didn't help himself. Leak put a nice ball in between three players and Newton blew it.
- I love David Harris. He was the unsung star on the Michigan defense this year, and he just sniffed out and blew up a little screen pass. Leak should've seen this before throwing it to Alabama RB Ken Darby.
- There's no question Louisville DT Amobi Okoye can get into the backfield. He ripped through to come up with a sack of Leak. The scouts are in love with his quickness, but will he grow bigger as he gets older? Can he still be quick and not lose anything if he adds 15 pounds or so? He slapped his way past Auburn's Tim Duckworth.
- Awful, awful punt by Baylor's Daniel Sepulveda. He was being talked about as a top 100 pick, but that misfire alone could cost him a few spots. Kickers with dreams of being taken high can't afford a mistake.

North on the 50
- Smith just showed why he might be a real, live NFL starter. Florida's Ray McDonald had Smith dead, including a face-mask that didn't get called, but he peeled away, made a nice move to show off his mobility, and threw a strike to Notre Dame's Rhema McKnight, who continues his lousy week with a drop.
- But McKnight comes back with a big play making a nice catch on a perfect strike from Smith, and takes a huge shot from Aaron Ross from Texas.
- Actually, Florida State's Buster Davis and Ross collided.
- Smith appears to be settled down.
- As soon as I type that, he tries to force a throw that wasn't even close to being there. Georgia's Tony Taylor had the play sniffed out from the word go.
- Smith short hops two straight throws. It seems like he's trying too hard to prove he has the arm to fire it on his outs.
- Vermiel just says the same thing saying Smith is pressing.
- On 4th and seven, Smith showed nice creativity dancing out of the pocket making a play to Leonard, who shows his quickness to get the first down.
- Interesting thought by Vermiel saying Leonard should keep his weight up and be a fullback. "Too much competition at I-Back. Everybody in the NFL needs a (fullback)."
- Hunt's making himself some money. Every play's been positive so far.
- One of the keys to this game is figuring out who's playing too hyped up and who's just struggling a bit. Everyone knows this is a job interview.
- Great push by Tim Crowder getting to Smith. Smith had a touchdown after Auburn's David Irons wasn't close in coverage, but Crowder blew the play up.
- Smith is 4 of 12 for 42 yards.
- Make that 4 of 13. On comes Colorado PK Mason Crosby from 38 yards. He hits it, but it's not quite perfect.  

North 10 ... South 0

South on its own 29
- Auburn RB Kenny Irons makes his first appearance. David Harris makes sure it's not memorable. Harris will be an All-Pro, but won't go until the third round.
- Leak goes deep putting the ball in a position where Bowe can grab it, but Michigan's Leon Hall breaks it up.
- Hall shuts down the next play as well with a great open field tackle on Irons.
- Ooooooh. Purdue's Anthony Spencer put on an amazing move but got flat out yanked by Tony Ugoh of Arkansas.
- Another three and out for Leak.

North on its own 20
- It's Drew Stanton's turn. This is the guy I really want to see. I truly believe he might have the potential to be the best quarterback in the upcoming draft, but he has to be more consistent and has to show a magical, for lack of a better word, quality.
- One throw, one first down hitting Iowa's big TE Scott Chandler.
- Stanton shows one of the key elements to his game: his mobility. He throws better on the run than JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn do.
- Nice read by NC State DT Tank Tyler. He sniffed out a draw play and held it to a short gain.

First Quarter Score: North 10 ... South 0

Second Quarter

- Nice move by Fresno State WR Paul Williams to get a first down off a short pass, but it helped that Oklahoma LB Rufus Alexander missed the tackle.
- Great job by Michael Griffin and Jonathan Wade in deep coverage. The play didn't work for the North, but it showed off Stanton's arm. He fired up a 55 yard pass that overshot his receiver.
- Either Kansas State RB Thomas Clayton doesn't have enough of a burst, or Patrick Willis has incredible closing speed. It's probably a little of both.
- Ooooooh. Miami's Brandon Meriweather has been popping all week long, and he crushed Williams a tick too late. Give Stanton credit for putting the ball on the money.

South on its own 20
- There's no truth to the rumor that the XBox halftime show will feature five fat kids who do nothing but play computer games come out to try to run the length of the field. Watch them drop around midfield.
- Kenny Irons has been fine this week, but hasn't quite shown enough to earn top 40 status. It didn't help that he just fumbled.
- It does help that Irons just showed off a nice cut and speed burst reading the blocks for a first down.
- Nebraska's Jay Moore didn't get touched and had a free shot on Leak forcing a fumble recovered by the North. You could've made that sack.

North on the South 29
- I know, get a room, but Stanton just looks like an NFL quarterback out there. I'm not saying he's Tom Brady, but he'll be a starter.
- Virginia Tech's David Clowney made a nice catch on a mediocre Stanton pass.
- Stanton throws a perfect fade to Aundrae Allison for a touchdown. Stanton has shown all the throws in his brief appearance.

North 17 ... South 0

South on its own 23
- Allison actually bobbled the touchdown catch, but it's not going to be reviewed in a game like this.
- UTEP's Jordan Palmer is in. He's been up and down this week, and has had issues with his consistency throughout his career, but he should be great today. There's no pass rush to worry about. He can pick apart defenses when he has time.
- Charles Davis should be off the sideline and in the booth.
- Great play by Ohio State's David Patterson. The South offensive line isn't close to being cohesive, but Patterson worked his way to that sack tripping up Palmer.

North on its own 40
- Pitt's Tyler Palko is in. He's not big and doesn't have a huge arm, and he's not an NFL starter, but he'll be in the league as a backup for ten years. He MUST show a little something today just to get on the overall radar.
- Brian Leonard is killing the South defense when it comes to getting the tough yards.
- NFL Network has to wipe the main camera lens. It's raining in Mobile, and the main camera is fogged up.
- I really like Scott Chandler. He's an automatic first down every time he goes across the middle. The North coaches have used him twice.
- Nice, nice throw from Palko. He drove the ball extremely well on a mid-range out to McKnight for a 13-yard gain. Palko might not have a deep arm, but if he can make that throw on a consistent basis, he can play in the big league.
- The South might not be playing all that well, but the defense is popping.
- Good run by Palko. Smart move taking off for a nice first down. This has been exactly the type of drive Palko needed.
- I'm still sort of stunned Thomas Clayton hasn't panned out. A variety of problems kept him from being a star at Kansas State, and he's not showing too much. He has the speed and the size, and he just fumbled the ball out of bounds. 
- Talk about moxie. Palko make a little flip when everything breaks down to get it down to the four. He's showing that magical intangible all the scouts are looking for that they can't get with a stopwatch or a measuring stick.
- Palko had Chandler for a touchdown but didn't get him the ball quickly enough. Michael Griffin broke up the pass.
- Meriweather moved from safety to corner, and he was all over McKnight like a blanket to break up the touchdown. Stanton threw the fade on the last drive; Palko tried a little fade stop.
- Crosby hits the field goal.

North 20 ... South 0

South on its own 29
- The coaches should force the kickers to put the kickoffs short to force returns. The whole idea is to see what all these guys can do.
- Aaron Ross is out with a concussion. It doesn't seem to be serious, but there's no reason to risk it.
- Crosby is putting the kickoffs short. He could be blasting it out of the stadium.
- Palmer is back in with 25 seconds to play. This is the type of situation he screwed up a lot at UTEP.
- And he almost screws it up here. West Virginia's Boo McLee almost picks it off.
- First down. Palmer didn't get the ball to Newton in stride, but the Beaver made a nice grab. He needed to make that catch.
- Palmer connects with former Miner teammate Johnnie Lee Higgins to end the first half.

First Half Score: North 20 ... South 0

South on its own 34

- Here's one of the other players everyone is interested in: Houston's Kevin Kolb. He might be falling behind Stanton in the race to be the number three quarterback taken, but he has it all.
- There's no reason to analyze this game as a competitive contest. It doesn't matter. I know the announcers are trying to treat this as an all-star game, but that's not the point.
- Lorenzo Booker is getting a chance to show himself as a kickoff returner, but I want to see him run a bit more.
- Nice, nice running by Irons. He read the blocks and the collapsing of the line, and he bounced it for a good six-yard gain.
- The sideline interview with Troy Smith is a bit telling. One of the most engaging interviews around, he sounds like a tired, beaten up guy.
- Kolb does a good job on his first two throws. He threw a nice timing pattern on his first, and stepped up in the pocket to deliver a strike on his second throw.
- And then he throws a wormburner to Newton.
- The former Nebraska defenders are making plays all over the place.
- Carriker is a top 20 pick, and maybe top ten. It helps that the South offensive line still appears discombobulated.
- Yeesh. Sepulveda makes up for his first kick by bombing one into the end zone. That's the leg everyone wants to see.

North on its own 20
- In the rain, the quarterbacks are having issues with the snaps. Palko is struggling a bit under center.
- Palko hits Hunt. Yeah, Hunt fumbled the ball, but he lined up at wide receiver and made the grab. His versatility is a plus.
- Brandon Meriweather is still popping. He'll be a steal if he gets past the top 40 picks.
- Palko is throwing well. He's on, but he's not getting any pressure.
- Miami's Kareem Brown is stuffing everything up inside. In a tackle-poor draft, he'll make some money off this game.
- Palko had a receiver open deep across the middle and didn't come close to hitting him.
- Once again, Palko is showing a little magic Doug Flutie style. He danced his way to buy time. He didn't get the first down (and fired off an audible F bomb), but it was still an interesting play.
- Georgia's Quentin Moses has been MIA. After a lousy week, he's doing nothing in this game. He almost got to Palko by sheer luck.

South on its own 19
- Fumbles are an issue. Alabama's Ken Darby, who really needed to show something, lost the ball, but it wasn't his fault. Kolb basically put it in Darby's shoulder pad.

North on the South 20
- Tony Hunt came up with another nice run. He's looking strong.
- Troy Smith is back in the game.
- Smith rolls to his right, directs traffic, and delivers a very strong strike to Jason Hill for a touchdown. It was a really, really good throw hitting a covered receiver. After the Florida debacle, he needed to show he could make a pass like that.

North 27 ... South 0

South on its own 20
- Interesting. Kenny Irons on the kickoff return. He didn't get much room to move.
- Uh, NFL Network, you might want to put Adrian Peterson on the list of top underclassmen.
- The North defensive line isn't giving the South runners any room to move. Ken Darby didn't have a hole to run through.
- Kolb isn't able to move the offense at all. Once again, the North defensive line is killing.

North on its own 42
- Smith has no place to throw and puts it in the fifth row.
- I can't believe anyone is considering Norv Turner for another pro head coaching gig, much less Dallas, who needs a big-name guy.
- This is turning into a brutally boring, ugly game. The North dropped the ball on a double reverse. No one on offense is doing much at this point.
- How bad is this? Eisen's talking about his Pilates.
- Maryland's Adam Podlesh hits a lousy kick, and Florida State's Chris Davis makes an awful decision to let it drop on the 18. He got lucky it rolled into the end zone, but if you're out to show what you can do, you take that ball no matter what and try to make something happen.

South on its own 20
- Adam Carriker is KILLING. He's the one guy in this game who's making a huge statement.
- As I typed that, he recovered a fumble. Yet another fumbled snap.

North on the South 20
- ANOTHER fumbled snap. Stanton gets it, but the play is so sloppy that no one's able to get a play going.
- Nice play from Stanton. The play broke down, but he moved out of the pocket and delivered a strike to Kolby Smith. It was dropped.
- Stanton hits David Clowney for a short out.

Third Quarter Score: North 27 ... South 0

Fourth Quarter

- Interception. Alabama State's Michael Coe makes a good read on the ball, Paul Williams isn't able to fight for it, and Stanton is picked off.

South on its own 20
- Palmer needs to show something. These are adverse conditions, and he has to prove he can rise above them.
- Auburn's Courtney Taylor is wrapped up by Syracuse's Tanard Jackson, but doesn't go down. He somehow gets a 30-yard gain.
- Ooooooh. For the second time this game, Central Michigan OT Joe Staley doesn't account for Jay Moore and gives up a kill shot. Give Palmer credit for hanging on to the ball.
- Palmer and Newton hook up for a decent gain.
- Yeesh. David Patterson comes up with a sack. This has been an awful, awful day for the South offensive line.

North on the South 42
- Once again, it's hard to get much scouting-wise out of this game since it's so sloppy. Every play seems like it's breaking down before it can begin.
- Kolby Smith is showing something getting back in the game after getting dinged up. He's a marginal prospect who can't afford any red-checks.
- Stanton isn't getting much help. He threw another good pass, but it was dropped.

South on its own 12
- Chris Leak is back in.
- Florida State's Chris Davis makes a nice move to get positive yards on Leon Hall.
- Man ... why didn't the Husker D linemen do this all year? Jay Moore blows up yet another play crushing Leak.
- Sepulveda, in awful conditions, hits a nice kick getting the South out of danger. I still say he's a late first day guy, but he'll probably go in the fifth round.

North on its own 30
- Three and out for the North. Tyler Palko made a few plays, but came up short on his third down throw.
- More punting. Podlesh missed on his kick hitting a dud.
- Mayock and Vermiel should be doing more scouting on the linemen, but there's just not much to do. Nothing's happening. It's a shame this isn't being played in a dome.

South on its own 30
Jay Moore with three sacks and two forced fumbles.
- Ken Darby with a dropped pass. Once again, someone has to show he can play in the rain and cold.
- And Sepulveda does just that. He hits an absolute beauty that some NFL scout has to be doing jumping jacks over. He's going to be on someone's must-have list in the fourth round. He's a weapon.

North on its own 7
- The North is just looking to run out the clock with two minutes to play.
- So what can be taken from this game? The Nebraska defensive linemen, Adam Carriker and Jay Moore, were out-of-this-world, Moore showed he might be an outside linebacker in the right system, and Levi Brown, Drew Stanton, Brian Leonard, Patrick Willis, Kareem Brown, Tony Hunt, Daniel Sepulveda, and Josh Beekman all helped themselves.
- Hunt was named MVP. Uh, O.K. I'd give it to the Husker linemen.

Final Score: North 27 ... South 0