Here's part two of our position-by-position review of this weekend's East-West Shrine Game, a game that ended up as a 14-10 win for the West team. Today we're looking at the defenses from both teams.
Perhaps to most impressive performance on the inside came from UConn defensive lineman Foley Fatukasi, who has been an excellent run stuffer over the past few years. In this game, he also pressured the quarterback on consecutive plays, but did jump offside once. He sheds the block for this run stuff in textbook fashion:
Poona Ford from Texas, who apparently excelled all week in practice, was strong at the point of attack all game and drove his man back for this sack:
Cal's James Looney also impressed with some good run stuffs and a couple of batted passes at the line.
Delaware State's Bilal Nichols had one of the biggest plays of the game, bursting into the backfield off a clean release to force a fumble that was ultimately returned for a score:
The most outstanding pass rushing performance of the game came from NC State's Kentavius Street, who displayed an impressive get-off and an ability to anticipate the snap count to generate constant pressure off the edge. Street, who ended up with 1.5 sacks and is also capable of being an interior rusher, also showed some abilities against the run:
Central Michigan's Joe Ostman also looked good, picking up one sack. As you can see, despite being chipped by an extra blocker, he kept working to collapse the pocket and clean up when the quarterback stepped up:
Arkansas State's Ja'Von Rolland-Jones also looked good off the edge. It was his pressure that led to the Ford sack above.
Justin Lawler was also impressive, coming off a monster season at SMU. On this play he stuffed a run for a loss:
...and here he showed an ability to beat his man around the edge and finish clean.
Miami's Chad Thomas, who will also play in the Senior Bowl, generated pressure a couple of times but, unlike Lawler, was unable to finish when he had a chance at a possible sack.
There were so many dominant performances up front that it was difficult for anyone in the back seven to stand out. However, Ohio State's Chris Worley had a productive day, racking up eight tackles, although he also gave up a personal foul with a late hit on a quarterback scramble.
Penn State's Jason Cabinda looked solid alongside Worley, while Indiana's Tegray Scales showcased his ability to go sideline-to-sideline and former Iowa State quarterback Joel Lanning, who converted to linebacker this year, made perhaps the most impressive play of the day with an ankle tackle on the edge to stop a run for no gain in the red zone.
With most of the top performers upfront presumably splitting the vote, it was Wisconsin safety Natrell Jamerson who won the defensive MVP award. Jamerson actually didn't have an especially impressive game, but his 67-yard fumble return was the only touchdown until late in the game.
Another Ohio State player, Damon Webb, looked good at safety, breaking up a pass. At cornerback, Brandon Facyson from Virginia Tech's arm length measured at just under 33 inches and he didn't allow a catch in the game, making a good open field tackle.
Pitt corner Avonte Maddox had a nice pass break-up but ended up giving up the game-winning touchdown.
We'll be breaking down the Senior Bowl in similar fashion next week...