Senior Bowl Week was fast and relentless, a lot like the North team’s defense as they overwhelmed a star-powered South team roster 34-17 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Saturday. Detroit Lions and North squad coach Matt Patricia led a defense that produced eight sacks and two interceptions. All three South quarterbacks tasted turf early and often.
Down to Business
The Detroit Lions staff constantly reinforced intensity, speed and precision all week and the message sunk in throughout the entire North squad. Defensive ends got off blocks quickly and played in the South backfield all day. The vice grips firmly tightened after Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert lead the opening drive of the game in the endzone. Despite a 10-10 tie, at halftime, the North defense enjoyed all the momentum after Anae hit former Alabama and Oklahoma quarterback Hurts mid-throw. As a result, this caused an interception by Ohio State middle linebacker in the second quarter.
Utah all-time sack leader Bradlee Anae tied with Syracuse’s Alton Robinson and Michigan State Kenny Willekes for a game-high two sacks. The three edge rushers showed violent hands and versatile feet all week. Willekes got one sack by ripping inside and blowing through the South backfield. Bradlee Anae dominated with chops and rip moves and stayed in Jalen Hurts face as he owed him money during tax season. Robinson’s motor and brute power obliterated South team quarterbacks, especially Jalen Hurts, the hometown hero. Tulsa defensive lineman Trevis Gipson and Ohio State defensive tackle Davon Hamilton both had a sack apiece. Hamilton earned praise as the best defensive tackle by his peers this week.
The entire group of defensive backs was tried by the fire with the elite amount of receiver play all week. Yet, once the game started, the secondary played like a collective fist with the memory, tenacity, and anticipation of an African elephant. In the third quarter, Colorado quarterback Steven Montez felt pressure and hit around the back of his legs. The ball sailed into the willing arms of Notre Dame cornerback Tony Pride Jr. who returned it 33 yards inside the South’s 10-yard line. The North defensive backs did not allow a pass over 20 yards and no South team receiver had 30 yards receiving. Tennessee receiver Jauan Jennings caught a touchdown late in the game to cut the score to 31-17 late in the fourth quarter.
Ground and Pound
The dominance in the trenches was a two-way street. North running back Joshua Kelly had a game-high 15 carries for 105 yards. Kelly ran tough inside and out. However, TCU running back Darius Anderson broke the game open with a 75-yard catch and run down the sideline. The North team broke the South team down with explosive plays and a perpetual sound technique in the run game. The South had more star power but the North was just too powerful.