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North shreds South in Senior Bowl showcase

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How it all went down in Mobile...

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NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Senior Bowl is in the books and we have a 34-17 win for the Lions coached North squad. The score is less important than the individual performances, which, let’s be honest, are less important than those performances throughout the week in practice. Still, what we saw in the game was largely an affirmation of what we saw in the practices from many of these 2020 NFL Draft prospects.

Oregon’s Justin Herbert got the start for South and started out the first drive in a rhythm (4/4, 31 yards, 1 TD), marching his squad down the field on a drive capped off by a physical 16-yard touchdown scamper on a screen from Florida running back Lamical Perine. Leading the way in space was the powerful LSU guard Damien Lewis, who made himself money this week.

The drive may have stalled if not for Michigan EDGE Josh Uche forgetting he could hit the quarterback on what would’ve been a clear sack. Uche exploded off the line and smoked his man, showing off the first-step explosion we’ve seen all week.

Uche lacked blockbuster production in college with 7.0 and 7.5 sacks over the last two years, but he backed up some high draft selections in 2018 and he shows plenty of upside that could get him selected higher than expected. Uche has the wiggle, bend, and has begun to develop a better set of counters over the last year. Has the frame to add mass and slightly improved play strength would do wonders for his game. Day 2 prospect on the rise that also showed he could cover better than most the traditional linebackers in Mobile.

“Uche generated pressure at on 23.3% of his pass-rushes and won on 28.2%, both of which ranked second among all FBS edge rushers. He rose up the board immensely since the start of the year but has to put on more size to be able to be a sole pass-rusher at the next level.” - PFF 2020 Draft Guide

Uche would continue to show off his quickness by sharing a sack with Utah EDGE Bradlee Anae later. Anae is another pass rusher that showed well during the week and has excellent hands to enhance his pass rush moves. Later he would cause Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts to throw an interception on a beautiful inside cross-chop swim.

Later Anae would cause Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts to throw an interception on a beautiful inside cross-chop swim and on the day he would tally three sacks. That’s a lot, folks.

The North answered in the second quarter, set up by Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson finding TCU running back Darius Anderson on a throwback wheel for a 75-yard touchdown. Patterson struggled throughout the week and would throw an interception soon after, but showed nice touch to connect across the field and deep to Anderson.

The game would go into half notched up 10-10 after trading field goals and scoring would resume when the North took their first second half drive to pay-dirt led by QB Scho Show darling Anthony Gordon of Washington State. The 75-yard drive ended on an 11-yard run from Baylor running back JaMychal Hasty.

Gordon led another scoring drive in the third quarter that featured a fun battle between Lenoir-Rhyne safety Kyle Dugger and Dayton tight end Adam Trautman, who both impressed this week. Ultimately Gordon would find Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool for a wide open 1-yard touchdown on a “banjo” coverage bust to put the North up 24-10.

The North would get another chance to score, set up by a Josh Uche pressure that would lead to an interception by Notre Dame cornerback Troy Pride Jr. Pride had a big week and many had him as the best performing cornerback of either squad during the practices.

“No defensive player had a better week than Notre Dame’s Pride. A former track star who weighed in at 5-foot-11, 193 pounds, Pride said he wants to run in the 4.2s at the NFL combine and showed in one-on-one drills that he very well could hit the mark with his ability to stick with any receiver in Mobile down the football field. Pride was sticky in press man all week and rarely got beat. He’s a special player that should draw significant interest at the top of Day 2, if not Day 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft.” - Austin Gayle, Pro Football Focus

The North would finish it off with a beautiful off-platform throw from Anthony Gordon to Liberty wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden on 4th & Goal for the 5-yard touchdown, putting the score well out of reach at 31-10.

Jalen Hurts would connect with Tennessee wide receiver Jauan Jennings on an 18-yard touchdown, bringing the score to 31-17 in the fourth quarter. The 6’3”, 206-pound Jennings had a solid week and built on a near 1,000 yard receiving season where he broke 30 tackles, leading all receivers in the nation in that regard.

The North would close it out with a final of 34-17 and Justin Herbert would get the nod as the MVP after finishing 9/13, 83 yards and 1 touchdown while adding 22 yards rushing.