Matchups at the Line of scrimmage:
The East squad has an athletic and disruptive group of defensive linemen. The West squad has the bigger and extremely physical group of offensive linemen. That will be an interesting thing to watch Saturday when the game kicks off as that will be a battle of speed vs. brute strength. Center Nick Linder (Indiana) has been solid inside showing movement to the second level. He has had some battles inside against Texas DT Chris Nelson. Tackles Brian Wallace (Arkansas), Jackson Barton (Utah) and Ryan Pope have won their fair share of practice battles as well. All are long players that have the length to keep edge rushers wide of the pocket. The East has some players that will test these guys like DE Michael Dogbe (Temple). His first step quickness has been very visible after a lackluster Bowl performance against Duke. Mathieu Betts (Laval) has been showing his speed on the edge as he put T Olisaemeka Udoh (Elon) on skates with a spin move Monday, then used his hands and speed to win the edge on Tuesday.
The quarterbacks had their share of moments today for the West squad. Brett Rypien (Boise State) had some very good throws from the pocket. He looked sharp at times, but there were some growing pains as well. He tried to throw the slant on back to back plays challenging CB Jordan Wyatt (SMU) only to have the first pass intercepted by Wyatt for what would have been a pick six. The second also thrown behind the receiver fell to the turf. Marcus McMaryion (Fresno State) had some excellent throws and a very nice run on a zone read. Many throws are in rhythm and have a lot of zip. Easton Stick (North Dakota State) has been solid as well. He had his struggles in early drills, but he turned it around completing some passes in different parts of the field. His biggest mistake was a late throw to the sideline in team drills that was intercepted by Wyoming Safety Andrew Wingard.
Almost missed him:
Defensive end Daniel Wise (Kansas) was able to wreak havoc today. He was highly active against the bigger offensive line. His athleticism and speed created difficult matchups for the line to win. He was just what they needed to face to prepare them for Saturday. DT Chris Nelson (Texas) was stout as a run defender. Playing the nose tackle or 1 technique, he ate up blocks allowing the linebackers to flow and fill. He wasn’t easily moved.
There were some feisty defensive backs out there. With CB Donnie Lewis (Tulane) and S D’Cota Dixon (Wisconsin) both missing practice today, it just meant more reps for the rest. CB Blace Brown (Troy) was able to matchup on the outside. Brown showed improved footwork and positioning. He also showed improved ball skills along with Jordan Wyatt. Wyatt had the pick of Brett Rypien and was in tight coverage all day. Both played with confidence. CB Montre Hartage had some flashy plays as well. He was in position to get a nice pass breakup in team drills and later had a big interception in coverage on Cody Thompson during the final compete period.