10 Things We Learned from the 2013 East-West Shrine Game
Why are there so many college all-star games after the season ends? What do we gain from them?
While on the surface it's more about the players impressing NFL scouts and getting feels for how they respond to NFL coaching staffs and rules, fans can learn a lot about prospective players, as well.
And usually they do. The 2013 East-West Shrine Game was no exception.
But what exactly did we pick up from the contest, which the West won by the score of 28-13?
A lot actually, and here's a look at exactly what was learned throughout the afternoon.
1. The Quarterback Position as a Whole Is Weak
We knew going into the East-West Shrine Game that the quarterback position would be a weak one.
The fact that none of the perceived top quarterbacks in this year's draft class participated in the game only added to the perception of a weak class.
Usually in postseason all-star games, at least one quarterback tends to shine. This year at the East-West Shrine Game, the closest quarterback to that was Western Michigan's Alex Carder.
Carder did go 9-of-11 for 95 yards, but he also looked raw throughout the game, including on his one interception.
Overall it wouldn't shock me if Carder was the only quarterback out of the six we saw during the game that winds up being drafted as a quarterback, as Collin Klein had the worst possible game he could have had in the situation.
But that's for another slide.
2. The Draft Will Have Even More Pass-Rushers Than You Could Imagine
As weak as the quarterback position is in 2013, we knew it would be a strong draft class if you were looking for a pass-rusher.
It only looks stronger after Saturday, as we saw South Carolina's Devin Taylor dominate the game, with a forced fumble and two sacks.
Taylor wasn't the only pass-rusher to impress this week, as Princeton's Mike Catapano, Missouri Western State's David Bass and Arkansas-Pine Bluff's Brandon Thurmond all made names for themselves in practice and were active and showed potential while they were in the game.
There's great depth at the position, and while the elite pass-rushers are still worth trading up for if you absolutely need one, it wouldn't hurt a team if it addressed other needs and filled out the position later in the draft.
3. There Is Some Promise at the Wide-Receiver and Tight-End Positions
One reason why the lack of good quarterback play in this game was so disheartening was the fact that both teams had pretty good receivers.
Chad Bumphis of Mississippi State was the best of the bunch, with four catches for 92 yards and a touchdown that went for 57 yards, but he wasn't the only one that shined.
His West teammate Anthony Amos had four catches of his own for 59 yards, while the receivers on the East side showed potential but were hampered by poor quarterback play.
The East's two leading receivers—Virginia Tech's Corey Fuller and Boston College tight end Chris Pantale—each caught only two passes. Fuller was open often, but it seemed like the ball couldn't find him once it left the quarterback's hands.
While there isn't a superstar wide receiver or tight end in this year's draft, it is deep at both positions.
Saturday only proved that.
4. Where Was the Offensive Line?
I understand with this being a showcase game and all that the offensive line is one position that isn't going to get too much attention.
Line play is the ultimate display of teamwork in the ultimate team game. Some teams have problems developing chemistry on the offensive line throughout the course of a season—getting it together within a week is next to impossible.
However, these players are playing for their professional lives, yet for both teams the offensive lines were manhandled.
At the very least, these players should get in some good blocks when taking on defenders one on one. It's not like the defenses that they faced on Saturday were overly complicated schemes.
5. Plenty of Defensive-Backfield Talent to Go Around
You can probably blame the poor quarterback play for this one; however, the secondaries for both teams were stellar throughout the game.
Both teams combined for five interceptions, with one of them being returned for a touchdown by Nigel Malone. They hit well during the game, limiting each receiver's yards after the catch, and they seemed to cover the receivers well, too.
As I mentioned before, these receivers showed some promise, which made the secondary play even better.
How many of the participating defensive backs will get drafted is still up in the air, but based on what we saw in this game, each one will at least have an invite to an NFL training camp.
6. Whoever Drafts Christine Michael Will Have a Great Bruising Running Back
If you miss running backs like Mike Alstott that just crashed into the line to chew up those yards, then you will love Christine Michael.
Overlooked this season at Texas A&M (yet still having scored 12 touchdowns of his own), Michael had an impressive East-West Shrine Game, running for 42 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
The way he did it was even more impressive. Michael would take the handoff and just barrel into the line like a freight train. His average wasn't spectacular, but you got the feeling that on a 3rd-and-short, he's the man to go to.
Whatever team picks him up will have a steal on its hands.
7. SEC Players Impress (Again)
If you're an SEC fan (or college football fan for that matter), it shouldn't come as any surprise that two of the best players on the field in the East-West Shrine Game came from the SEC.
In fact, I've already discussed them plenty: They're South Carolina defensive end Devin Taylor and Mississippi State's Chad Bumphis.
Both players looked like the fastest players on the field, and both provided a "men-versus-boys" feel to the game.
Then there's the already-mentioned Christine Michael from Texas A&M, who also impressed.
Overall the SEC had another great Saturday and continued to confirm to just about everyone that it is the top conference in college football.
8. Caleb Sturgis Can Really Kick the Ball
Seven of the 13 points scored by the East team came off the leg of Caleb Sturgis.
While he did kick one extra point, the other six came off of two field goals, one of them from 48 yards out.
Sturgis was perfect on the day, but he also did a good job kicking the ball off, showing tremendous leg strength.
It's likely that only one kicker will get drafted in this year's draft (Dustin Hopkins of Florida State), but Sturgis might have kicked himself into being the second kicker drafted with his performance.
9. Small, Shifty Running Backs Struggled
If you were a small and shifty running back, then the East-West Shrine Game wasn't the game for you.
Pittsburgh's Ray Graham struggled, with six rushing attempts that went for 23 yards. Not bad, but he was also stripped of the ball early in the game.
Vanderbilt's Zac Stacy also struggled throughout the game, with only 13 yards on five attempts.
The lone exception to the short, speedy and struggling backs was Utah State's Kerwynn Williams. He would run for 28 yards on eight attempts.
The offensive line had something to do with this (both big backs—Christine MIchael and SMU's Zach Line—performed well) by not giving them the space needed.
However, I'm sure Stacy and Graham both wish they could have this game back.
10. Collin Klein Is the Next Tim Tebow (No, That's Not a Good Thing)
If Collin Klein wants to avoid the Tebow comparisons, it would help if he could improve on his throwing motion, accuracy, arm strength and overall mechanics.
Yes, he has a long way to go.
Klein already had a stellarly horrible week of practice leading up to the game, and his performance in the game itself wasn't exactly a shining testament to why he should be a quarterback at the next level.
I think I'm being fairly diplomatic while saying that.
The saving grace for Klein was that he was the East's top rusher and showed the ability to be a fairly good H-back, tight end or even wide receiver at the NFL level. If I were him, I'd learn from the mistakes made by Tim Tebow, whose constant insistence that he should play quarterback is pushing him out of the league, and be willing to accept the fact that if he is drafted, he will have to move to one of the three positions I mentioned in order to have a long and successful NFL career.
Because as a quarterback, Klein just isn't going to cut it. Hopefully, for his sake, his performance in this game is the wake-up call.
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