East-West Shrine Game: Review

Ethan Westbrooks made an impression on Tommy Rees and the East-West Shrine Game. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The 89th East-West Shrine game is officially in the books as the East beat the West 23-13, and an FCS prospect outplayed a Heisman finalist -- as he has all week.

Two quarterbacks on the East team, Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo and Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch, had two different types of games and a lot of it had to do with how they used their eyes.

Other than quick hitters, Garoppolo, who won the offensive MVP award, scanned the field and used his eyes to manipulate the coverage. He also kept his eyes downfield when the West flushed him out of the pocket.

Lynch, who started the game 1-for-5 with two picks, stared down his receivers and telegraphed throws. In addition, he lowered his eyes and turned into a one-dimensional scrambler when the West pressured him. He made it too easy for the back seven to step up when he got moved off the spot.

Another East team QB, Cornell quarterback Jeff Mathews, showed better than expected mobility and found a way to escape pressure. He also put good zip on his passes and flashed good touch but he locked on his receiver and paid for it as he threw a costly fourth-quarter interception.

Arizona State's Alden Darby took advantage of the quarterbacks not looking him off by picking Mathews and Lynch once apiece. Darby has been a vocal leader, shown good awareness in coverage and was able to get downhill and make solid contact all week.

Utah State corner Nevin Lawson, who played on the East, also had a big game. He made a nice break on the ball working against Pitt State wide receiver John Brown, showed good body control on an open field tackle of Washington quarterback Keith Price and recovered a fumble for a touchdown.

Rice corner Phillip Gaines and Valdosta State receiver Seantavious Jones battled for a couple of 50-50 balls downfield with Gaines getting the better of Jones both times. Gaines could have fielded the ball better but he showed better body control and strength than Jones.

West Texas A&M defensive end Ethan Westbrooks, playing for the East, took home the defensive MVP award, showing good lower and upper body strength coming off the edge as a pass-rusher.

Wisconsin nose tackle Beau Allen beat Tennessee’s James Stone for a sack in the fourth quarter. Allen’s brute strength and effort continued to show up. It’s also worth pointing out that Stone practiced well and showed his versatility by lining up at center and guard this week.

It won’t show up in the box score, but Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning threw a couple of accurate deep balls with great touch to Toledo wide receiver Bernard Reedy. Reedy dropped the first one and Georgia Tech corner Jemea Thomas got flagged for pass interference on the second one.

Outside of doing a nice job of improvising his route and catching a touchdown pass from Price, it wasn’t a great day for Reedy, who failed to make defenders miss after the catch in addition to dropping that pass.

The difference between the pro and college game showed up when Oklahoma running back Brennan Clay only got one foot in bounds on a wheel route. Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees put good touch on the ball and placed it where only Clay could get it. Clay has to show better sideline awareness and get that second foot down.

Northern Arizona running back Zach Bauman was the most explosive back at practice and he continued to shine. He drops the hammer as soon as he gets a seam and he’s shifty in space.

Bauman isn’t the only back who looked good. Sam Houston State running back Timothy Flanders looked smooth on a cutback run and Mississippi State running back LaDarius Perkins did a nice job of sifting through traffic on a draw near the end of the first half.