December 31, 2012

U.S. Army Bowl: Monday East story lines

MORE: U.S. Army All-American Bowl has the U.S. Army All-American Bowl covered. Adam Friendman has the top story lines from the East team on Day 1 of practice.

Raining on the parade

The rain Monday was a nightmare for every offensive player. The centers were having trouble with the snaps, quarterbacks were throwing wobbly balls and receivers were dropping easy catches. Plenty of punts and kickoffs were hitting the ground, as returners were also feeling the effects of Mother Nature. Heck, there was even a car accident on the highway near the practice field because of the slick roads. As the weather improves, look for the play to improve too.

Secondary to none

The collection of talent in the defensive backfield for the East team is one of the best ever put together and they did not disappoint Monday. Jalen Ramsey, Kendall Fuller, Mackensie Alexander played the best but Eli Apple, Nick Washington and Tray Matthews were right on their heels. It will be very impressive if the West team can pass on these cornerbacks and safeties.


When there's rain, injuries usually follow. Demarcus Robinson was out for most of the afternoon practice with a toe injury. Another wide receiver seen limping on the sideline during the afternoon practice was Tony Stevens. During one-on-one drills, John Montelus came away with an injured shoulder and Greg Bryant missed the morning practice but that seemed to be unrelated to the rainy weather. Montelus has been ruled out of Tuesday's practices but Bryant, Robinson and Stevens are expected to participate.

Ready and willing

One of the hurdles coaches run into at all-star games is a lack of depth, especially on the offensive line. The East team is very thin at center, with Brandon Kublanow as the only player with any experience at the position. The offensive line coach was left asking for volunteers to play the all-important position. Kublanow and Brandon Mahon stepped up and the coaches were very grateful. They struggled at times because of the wet ball but seemed to get better as the day went on. Besides snapping, the two were the most physical and aggressive offensive linemen and performed very well.

Weak interior d-line other than Bigelow

The defensive line is one of the strengths for the East team and Kenny Bigelow was outstanding Monday, along with Wyatt Teller on the inside. The other defensive tackles, however, have left us wanting more. Greg Webb and Keith Bryant have been underwhelming, drawing the ire of their position coach. The offensive line pretty much had their way with Webb and Bryant and the two of them will look to rebound in Tuesday's practices.

Keeping up with the Derricks

The running back position is one of the strongest and deepest positions at this year's U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The East team has a trio of sensational backs in Greg Bryant, Derrick Green and Derrick Henry. While Bryant may be the fastest, the combination of size and speed that Green and Henry bring is impossible to overlook. Green is a big back at 6-foot, 220 pounds and Henry is an astonishing 6-foot-3, 243 pounds. The West defense better be ready for these physical backs.

Where there's smoke there's fire

One of the few skill position players that excelled Monday was Taquan Mizzell. He was virtually un-guardable in the morning practice, catching two long touchdowns. "Smoke" ate up any linebacker or safety that tried to cover him. As the week goes on, it will be interesting to see if the defenders play him differently.

A long time coming

The All-American Bowl will be the first game action in a long time for a few players. Kenny Bigelow and Khaliel Rodgers played only four official games this season after their school had a sanctioning issue with the Maryland high school association. After recovering from a knee injury Greg Bryant only played in a few games this season. For some players such as Garrett Sickels, their last game was at the end of November. Needless to say, these players are looking forward to full contact football on Saturday.


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