4) Undersized running backs stand tall.
It wasn’t the loudest week for either Emani Bailey (TCU) or Cody Schrader (Missouri), but both American Team backs made the most of their chances in Saturday’s game.
The 5-foot-7, 208-pound Bailey showed his ability to power through contact by running for 53 yards on 10 carries and adding four receptions for 34 yards. He had a long run of 14 yards and a long catch of 14, displaying a little juice on each. Bailey also made the hustle play of the day by tackling Washington State DB Chau Smith-Wade one yard shy of a touchdown on an 83-yard INT return.
Like Bailey, Schrader is a thickly built, shorter back at 5-8 and 207 pounds. And similarly, Schrader showed off some of the contact balance he displayed in a brilliant season for the Tigers, powering through contact on a few plays. He was held in check as a runner (7-12-0 rushing, long run of 7) but was effective on checkdowns and quick passes, with 54 yards receiving on five catches.
The National Team also had a few moments from their backs, as South Dakota State’s Isaiah Davis (who had a solid showing this week) had a 20-yard run and Troy RB Kimani Vidal ripped off a 23-yarder.
5) McCaffrey among other standouts.
Saturday’s game turned out to be a defensive battle, but there were contributors in all three phases who made their mark.
On offense, not many receivers were given great chances to thrive, but Rice WR Luke McCaffrey — the brother of 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey — had two nice catches. He made a one-handed stab for 13 yards, a 15-yard catch and a 5-yard run. He also added a 20-yard punt return, showing the added value he can bring to an NFL team.
Two offensive linemen, Wisconsin’s Tanor Bortolini and Connecticut’s Christian Haynes, each deserve praise for their blocking work. Bortolini played both guard spots and took snaps at center, and Haynes also played guard and center. With a limited number of capable snappers, both blockers deserve credit for their work, even if the QB-center exchanges were a bit dicey at times.
Two defenders who were highly active in the game were North Carolina LB Cedric Gray and Kentucky LB Trevin Wallace. Gray tied for a game-high seven tackles and broke up two passes in the second half, nearly intercepting both of them. Wallace set an early tone by racking up six tackles, including three within a yard of the line of scrimmage.
Iowa P Tory Taylor had a good day, averaging 44.8 yards per punt with good hangtime. Stanford K Joshua Karty made three of his four field-goal attempts, missing from 32 yards but also hitting one purely from 52. Alabama K Will Reichard missed his only try, but it was from 57 yards, hitting halfway up the upright for about as impressive a miss as you’ll see in a college all-star game.
First appeared on www.nfl.com