Commentary

Sloppy play limits the offenses at the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas

Top offensive prospects Alshon Jeffrey and Jheranie Boyd were relatively quiet at the Shrine Bowl for the Carolinas, writes Craig Haubert.

Originally Published: December 22, 2008
By Craig Haubert | ESPN.com

It was a gray, overcast day with periods of rain, and the overall game play in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas was not much better. For the most part, the game was marred with fumbles, penalties, poor special teams play and other general miscues.

The turnout was good for the 72nd annual edition of the game, with about 7,000 fans in attendance at Gibbs Stadium on the Wofford campus. Although it was far from a pretty game, the rosters had their fair share of well-known prospects and a few big plays occurred during the four quarters. The South Carolina squad erased a 16-3 halftime deficit to defeat North Carolina 24-16.

South Carolina overview

Things got off to a rough start for South Carolina, which fumbled on the first play of its opening offensive possession. It took some time, but behind the athleticism of South Carolina commit Stephon Gilmore (Rock Hill, S.C./South Pointe) the Sandlappers -- as they were called -- were able to make some big plays. Gilmore, an ESPNU 150 athlete prospect, was impressive in both ability and stature. He is a well-put-together athlete who possesses good bulk and size, and Gilmore could project to several positions in college. Gilmore played quarterback for the South Carolina squad; he won the offensive MVP, rushing for 71 yards. Gilmore had a pair of fumbles, but he also swung the momentum in South Carolina's favor with a big 47-yard run in the third quarter. He slashed across the field, showing good speed and the ability to make several tacklers miss.

Another star for South Carolina was Duke commit Walt Canty (Roebuck, S.C./Dorman). Canty, who nabbed defensive MVP honors, was a very busy man. He played cornerback, where he is projected to make an impact at the college level, returned punts and played some quarterback. He took a direct snap and ran right behind a host of blockers to score a touchdown on the same drive as Gilmore had his big run. Canty finished with 118 total yards and four tackles on defense. He was a pleasant surprise in his ability and versatility. He showed some flashes in his play on film, but Canty really turned out a nice effort in the game. Duke fans have to feel good about this future Blue Devil.

The passing game was really nonexistent for both teams. The big-name vertical threat on South Carolina's roster was wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey (Saint Matthews, S.C./Calhoun). The USC commit was one of the biggest players on the field; Jeffrey is a wide receiver built like a tight end. He was shut out of the game, but South Carolina did try and get him the ball on a fade route in the first half. The monster-sized Jeffrey went up and grabbed the ball, but came down out of bounds. He displayed good hands, and although he does not have great straight-line speed, Jeffrey's build and hands should make him a tough cover in college.

South Carolina's offensive line featured two Under Armour All-Americans: J.K. Jay (Greenville, S.C./Christ Church) and Quinton Washington (Saint Stephen, S.C./Timberland). Jay, who lined up at right tackle, was a good-looking kid on the hoof and showed good athleticism. He battled a few times with talented North Carolina defender Donte Moss (Jacksonville, N.C./Northside) and did well. Jay suffered a minor shoulder injury in the first half and did not play in the second half. Washington played the whole game at right guard. We were impressed with his ability to drive block, his foot movement and ability to climb to the second level. JerQuari Schofield (Aiken, S.C.), who garnered much attention during the week, played defensive tackle in the game. He is a big kid and a good-looking prospect, but his play on the defensive line solidified our feeling he is an offensive lineman in college. He was good with his hands, but he needs to play lower and his skills will be better suited to the offensive side of the ball.

On defense, Clemson commit Malliciah Goodman (Florence, S.C./West Florence) played well. He is a physically impressive kid with a huge wingspan. He finished with six tackles and 1.5 sacks. He did a good job getting pressure by using his huge, muscular arms to throw rip moves and work his way into the backfield. He still needs to keep growing into that frame of his, but Goodman showed he knows what he does best and works it. Under Armour All-American Sam Montgomery (Greenwood, S.C.) played well with a bum wheel. The nation's No. 2-rated defensive end did the little things right. He was very good at shooting his hands and creating separation and made it tough for running backs to turn the corner when they came his way. We also liked how he continued to come across the ball and squeeze down and play smart. We look forward to seeing Montgomery at full strength in Orlando. Florida State commit Justin Bright (Duncan, S.C./Byrnes) was easily spotted on the field; he played with a bunch of enthusiasm and effort. Bright finished with five tackles.

North Carolina Overview

While the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas featured some terrific overall talent on the North Carolina side, the Tar Heels struggled to consistently produce quality play for four quarters. The talent level on the roster as a whole was overshadowed by a lack of quarterbacks to adequately move the football.

Though North Carolina led at halftime 16-3, things completely unraveled in the second half. North Carolina's best players were on defense, but they couldn't hold the lead. It would be fair to say defensive tackle Jared McAdoo (Chapel Hill, N.C.) was the most disruptive player on the field. The mammoth McAdoo was quick, possessed skinny ankles and athleticism and looked great on the hoof. His most impressive trait was his motor. He consistently penetrated the backfield and was always around the ball.

Behind him, defensive end Donte Moss (Jacksonville, N.C./Northside) played as a stand-up outside linebacker in some three-man fronts. Moss looked fast and athletic. This could be a good role for him down the road. He showed his range and ability to play in space and away from the line of scrimmage.

Outside linebacker Hawatha Bell (Matthews, N.C./Butler) was the surprise player on the North Carolina side. The North Carolina verbal commit looked fantastic and played with a great motor. Bell was up field, difficult to block and made a ton of tackles.

It was a long day for the North Carolina defense because the offense could not get anything going. At one point during the second half, the Tar Heels had run 11 plays for just 18 yards. North Carolina-bound wide receiver Jheranie Boyd (Gastonia, N.C./Ashbrook) was a nonfactor during the game. But at times during the week of practice and by doing the little things during the game, you could see he is going to be special.

Essentially, Boyd and the other offensive playmakers -- such as running backs Larry Raper (Shelby, N.C.) and wide receivers Corey Gattis (Durham, N.C./Hillside) and Kendrick Wiggins (Durham, N.C./Southern Durham) were held in check mostly due to ineffective offensive line and quarterback play. You could see it was a very frustrating day for this year's North Carolina squad.

A player to keep an eye on at the next level is S/OLB Quin Smith (Lenoir, N.C./Hibriten). The South Carolina verbal commit is big and rangy and his overall athleticism is excellent for the outside linebacker position, which would probably be where his talents are best utilized. He was flying around and was around the football a bunch.

Craig Haubert is the recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. and has more than a decade of coaching experience.

Tom Luginbill contributed to this article.