Photo by Tony Gonzales
The best of the college all-star games is less than 24 hours away. After spending a week with 53 of the nation's premier college players, Raiders coaches and scouts will soon bid farewell to the group.
Will Oakland see any of them again in three months? Last year's coaching staffs, Washington and Minnesota, both drafted a player from their Senior Bowl squads en route to their respective playoff seasons. The Vikings selected Notre Dame S Harrison Smith in the first round. The Redskins' selection, however, was an amazing story.
After arriving midway through the week as an injury replacement, Alfred Morris met Bobby Turner for the first time. Turner, Washington's running backs coach, needed a fullback to play the game. Morris said he was a feature halfback at Florida Atlantic and had never played FB. With the Senior Bowl preparing to send home Morris in favor of a true fullback, Morris instead opted to play the position in the game rather than leave Mobile.
With that sacrifice fresh in their minds, having gotten to know Morris, the Redskins took a chance on him and selected him in the sixth round. Quietly, in the shadow of Robert Griffin III, Morris ran for more than 1,600 yards, one of the best rookie rushing performances of all-time.
Is there an Alfred Morris on the 2013 North team roster? Only the Raiders know. That's the advantage they have in coaching the game.
AN ORGANIZED COACH: Showing his attention to detail, Head Coach Dennis Allen in a corner room at the Mobile Convention Center Friday night took time to address sideline organization. The space just outside the thick white sideline is reserved for coaches and substitutions, he said. Also, when units come off the field, they are to sit in specific locations on the two team benches. Quarterbacks, for instance, need to sit next to the press-box communications unit, which they'd use to talk to coaches upstairs.
Earlier in the day, Allen devoted a portion of the team walk-through to the pregame routine, and was sure to communicate clearly the exact locations and descriptions of drills, so every player knew where to go and when. He wants his team to look professional.
Allen also made sure the team knew the Saturday schedule, including breakfast, taping and bus-departure times.
He then reminded the team that the game would be played with NFL rules. For instance, two feet in bounds, not one foot, are needed for a completion, offensive players are not down until they're down by contact, and in the passing game, contact farther than 5 yards from the line of scrimmage is illegal.
However, helmet radios and coaches headsets are illegal for the Senior Bowl and will not be used.
Officials working the game are not NFL officials.
COIN TOSS: QB Mike Glennon, who will start under center for the North, DB T.J. McDonald and P Jeff Locke will represent the North at the kickoff.
ROTATION: Every position will generally follow the same rotation, at least through the first half. Each player will play two straight series. At halftime, Raiders coaches will reassess playing time and do their best to give each player equal snaps.
KICKOFF: The annual Senior Bowl kicks off at 3 p.m. CST, 1 p.m. PST, on NFL Network. Allen is expected to wear a microphone.
Following the game, the Raiders staff, including video crew, trainers and equipment managers, will return home.