Tuesday, January 26, 2016

My Review of the Shrine Game

Since the Rose Bowl was the last game, come to think of it, only game I attended this college football season, I was left with a slightly bitter taste in my mouth. Luckily, I had one last chance to watch college football players compete against each other as the East-West Shrine Game was just down the road from where I live at Tropicana Field.

Now, this is not the Senior Bowl, which has a ton of the top Senior talent from all around the nation and some likely first round picks. This is a leftovers game, but that doesn't mean there weren't some intriguing guys on the field. The most notable name was probably Keenan Reynolds, who set the all-time NCAA touchdown record, but he didn't play. I would guess the next most notable name was Vernon Adams, Jr., quarterback of Oregon this past season. Still, the guys I was most interested in seeing were Iowa safety, Jordan Lomax, and former Iowa quarterback (with his final season at Michigan), Jake Rudock.

Overall, I would say that Lomax looked solid, as he made a few tackles and seemed to do well in coverage. There are a lot of rules to simplify things in these All-Star games, so there isn't a ton of room for a safety to stand out outside of being in a good position for a quarterback's mistake. Lomax is a guy who is going to have to shine on special teams to get a shot at the next level, but he has the tools necessary to succeed there.

As for Rudock, well, uh, it was not great. He technically lead the East to all of their scores, as they had an interception that put them deep in the West's territory that ended in a field goal, and he was still the active quarterback when the defense got an interception that they returned for a touchdown. He is going to be accurate, but he just doesn't have the arm strength to be a viable candidate to be a professional quarterback at the next level. He was a Pre-Med Major; he's a former college quarterback; I think he's going to be fine.

But the star quarterback, and really, the star of the game was Vernon Adams Jr. I'll admit that the only game I really focused on from Oregon this year was when they got beaten badly by Michigan State, a game that Adams was not 100%. He was definitely 100% for this game, as he straight tore things up on the field. Adams is an interesting prospect, as he is very athletic, but relatively small for a quarterback, standing just 6'0" tall. In this game, he showed abilities to make plays from the pocket, and definitely showed that he knows how to move around and make plays as well. His 93 yard touchdown pass will get the most highlights, but it wasn't his best play, as he did a good job of avoiding the rush before finding a guy that was wide open. It was much more impressive to see him scan the field from the pocket and find the open man in the rhythm of the play.

In an All-Star game, it's tough to stand out if you're not a skill position guy, and I'll admit that I was only focusing on the big aspects of the game as opposed to trying to breakdown the footwork of offensive linemen, so Adams was really the only guy who seemed to stand out. Brandon Doughty was getting some buzz, but he failed to impress when he took the reins of the offense. Joel Stave performed exactly how you would expect Joel Stave to perform.

More importantly than what happened on the field was what was happening off the field. CLOWNS. Lots and lots of clowns. I've never been a big clown guy, but I gotta admit it; these clowns added a lot to my entertainment. I mean, sure, they did some clown stuff for entertainment, but even more fascinating was when they were just a bunch of dudes hanging out in full clown gear. One guy even had on a football costume with shoulderpads and a football on a string that he would use to trick people. Does he use that year round, or is this his only time of year to shine (or Shrine, if you prefer)? Anyway, I would love it if football got rid of cheerleaders and replaced them with an army of clowns. There is no way that ends badly.

The East-West Shrine Game is not the Senior Bowl, but it's got $15 General Admission tickets, and there are worse ways to spend a Saturday evening, especially if you can convince your wife to count it as a date night.

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