Senior Bowl Notebook: Thursday Takeaways


MOBILE, Ala. –Senior Bowl practices are now complete as both the North and South teams took the field at Ladd-Peebles Stadium for the final time on Thursday until the 66th annual college all-star game is played Saturday afternoon.

The one noticeable difference in Thursday's practices was that the teams went through different situational drills during the team portions of practice. Both squads did plenty of work in the red zone and with the two-minute drill.

Here are the major notes from Thursday:


North Practice**

• The WR/DB 1v1's came from inside the five-yard line Thursday. That means we got to see QB's throw fade routes and skill players try to high point the ball in the end zone.

• Bryce Petty was dealing during this portion, completing several fade routes while showing nice touch on his throws. Throwing a fade is all finesse, the ability to put enough air under the ball for your receiver to go get it without underthrowing it. A perfectly thrown fade is impossible to cover. A poorly thrown fade is easy to intercept. Petty's showed more of the former on Thursday.

• WR's Ty Montgomery, Antwan Goodley and Vince Mayle all made nice grabs during this portion of practice. Ohio State's Devin Smith made the finest catch, however, leaping up and grabbing the ball at its highest point over the CB in coverage.

• Ameer Abdullah broke off two nice runs in the team period, both while making one cut and taking advantage of a sizeable hole created by the offensive line.

• USC LB Hayes Pullard has had an impressive week and continued his strong play Thursday. During the team period, Pullard got through the line of scrimmage and met Abdullah in the backfield. He stopped the RB in his tracks with a big hit that drew a reaction from the crowd on hand.

• Northwestern CB Ibraheim Campbell intercepted Shane Carden during team drills. Carden tried to throw into tight coverage and Campbell made him pay.

• Nate Orchard will be talked about as one of the biggest risers from Senior Bowl Week. On a reverse to a wide receiver, Orchard kept his contain on the edge and pursued the ball carrier, eventually making the stop six yards behind the line of scrimmage. He continued his stellar play in 1v1 drills, burning Pittsburgh T T.J. Clemmings for an easy trip to the QB. In the final team period, Orchard intercepted a Petty screen pass to show off his hands.

• In the linemen 1v1 drills, Duke G Laken Tomlinson absolutely dominated. He won every rep against whatever defensive lineman he faced. That includes standing up Danny Shelton – who is widely regarded as the top prospect at the Senior Bowl – on his final rep. Tomlinson has incredible lower body strength and once he's engaged and establishes his base, the defensive lineman really has no chance. It's important to note that Tomlinson showed well at both LG and RG.

• Wisconsin RT Rob Havenstein has been solid all week and won most of his 1v1 battles. Penn State's Donovan Smith was another offensive lineman to play well Thursday.

• In the red zone team drills, Montgomery made a catch at the three, spun away from a defender and made it across the goal line.

South Practice

• The South team also spent most of the WR/DB 1v1 drills inside the five-yard line. Alabama QB Blake Simms was the most consistent throwing his fades, several of which were caught for touchdowns.

• TCU CB Kevin White continued his strong week, breaking up several passes during 1v1's.

• WR Dezmin Lewis from Central Arkansas made an impressive catch in the back of the end zone on a fade route.

• Miami WR Phillip Dorsett continued to show that no defensive back on the South roster could keep up with him. He made one nice over-the-shoulder catch in the back corner of the end zone while keeping both feet in bounds. On another play, Dorsett ran a shake route (beginning to run an in-route before planting and turning back outside), leaving the cornerback well behind him for the easy touchdown. The speedy receiver also took a reverse for a touchdown in the end zone drills.

• Arkansas DE Trey Flowers and Mississippi State DT Kaleb Eulls both showed well during pass rush 1v1's.

• Norfolk State LB Lynden Trail is another riser of the week. He tipped and intercepted a pass during the 7v7 drills. Trail also played TE during 1v1 drills, showcasing his 6-6, 262-pound frame.

• Miami CB Ladarius Gunter made a diving interception during the red zone drills on a Garrett Grayson pass in the middle of the end zone.

• Grayson rebounded nicely, throwing a perfect fade to UCF's Rannell Hall, who was able to make the diving catch in the corner of the end zone.

• The South team finished practice with the two-minute drill. Both Grayson and Simms ran drives that started from their own 35-yard line.

• Samford S Jaquiski Tartt showed impressive closing speed to stop a screen pass to Sammie Coates for a minimal gain.

• Grayson then hit Miami TE Clive Walford up the right seam for a big gain in to plus territory. The drive ended with a Dorsett fumble recovered by Clemson DT Grady Jarrett.

• Sims completed one beautiful pass to Fresno State's Josh Harper, thrown over the outstretched arms of the man in coverage. The drive ended on a Hail Mary that was intercepted by Tartt in the end zone.

Titans coaches lead the North team on Day 4 of the 2015 Reese's Senior Bowl. (Photos: Gary Glenn)

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