College coaches make the scene in Mobile

Originally Published: January 21, 2004
By Ivan Maisel | ESPN.com

MOBILE, Ala. -- As the South practice broke up Tuesday, an old friend clapped San Francisco 49ers coach Dennis Erickson on the shoulder.

"This," Texas Tech coach Mike Leach said of Erickson, "is the czar of offense." "Depends on the week," Erickson said. "You know that, Mike."

Leach watched both the North and the South practice Tuesday, as did a handful of other college coaches, including Florida offensive coordinator Ed Zaunbrecher. While some coaches say they are in the area recruiting and just wanted to stop by, Leach and Zaunbrecher both said they came to see friends and to take a break from recruiting. Neither said he was trolling for an NFL job.

"The coaches who have jobs are watching the drills," Zaunbrecher said. "The coaches who are looking for jobs are walking around looking at the coaches."

Fork in the Rivers
North Carolina State quarterback Philip Rivers has brought his unorthodox throwing motion and his knack for consistent production to the Senior Bowl, and he doesn't believe that either will change.

"If you got a guy five yards in front of you and he's open, it doesn't matter how you get it to him," Rivers said, "it" being the ball. "If it becomes a problem," this "it" being his motion, "I'm going to do whatever I have to do to get it done."

Erickson, for one, dismisses any concern over Rivers. For one thing, Erickson's offensive coordinator at Oregon State in 2002, Noel Mazzone, served as Rivers' offensive coordinator last fall. For another, Erickson is very excited about quarterback Ken Dorsey, who fell to the 49ers in the 7th round last April because of questions about his arm.

"Everybody says that," Erickson said of Rivers' motion. "I don't think it's that big a deal. He gets the ball off in time and he's accurate. What else do you want? He threw 70 percent (completion rate). The intangibles are important. The guy has got a leg up on the numbers."

Rivers defined intangibles as "How can he take charge of the huddle? How does he practice? How does he study? Does he work? Things you don't see on game tape." He felt like he accomplished all of that and more, including meeting a boyhood idol. Rivers chatted a little while with new Miami Dolphins front-office chief Dan Marino.

"It was kind of neat being in the same room with a guy you idolized," Rivers said. He had a poster of Marino on the wall of his childhood bedroom, along with posters of Joe Montana, Troy Aikman and Brett Favre.

Practice makes perfect
Michigan cornerback Jeremy LeSueur had an outstanding practice for the North team on Tuesday, intercepting one pass in a full-speed skeleton drill and nearly intercepting another. ... Virginia quarterback Matt Schaub had a better day Tuesday than he did Monday, because on Tuesday his last name was spelled correctly on his blue practice jersey. On Monday, the jersey read "Shaub." Senior Bowl executive director Steve Hale felt bad about the typo. "I checked the game jerseys myself," he said. "I didn't check the practice jerseys." ... The South team did more hitting than the North on Tuesday, taking ball carries and receivers to the ground in a passing drill. The North stuck with a "thud" workout.

Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ivan.maisel@espn3.com.

Ivan Maisel | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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