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January 6, 2012
Army Bowl: What to watch
SAN ANTONIO - The U.S. Army All-American Bowl kicks off at 1 p.m. ET Saturday inside the Alamodome on NBC. But for Rivals, it caps a week of events and evaluations in San Antonio. Rivals.com writers have seen it all over the past week, and chime in on what they believe is the top storyline heading into Saturday's contest.
Jake Brown: One of the most intriguing position groups in the game is the defensive backs going for the East squad. Tracy Howard, Geno Smith, Yuri Wright, Elijah Shumate and Travis Blanks headline a deep and talented group charged with slowing down the West receivers. Dorial Green-Beckham will be the steepest challenge while Durron Neal has shown the ability all week to make big plays. The East defensive backs will need to be on point.
Adam Gorney: It's going to be interesting to see if the West offensive line can back up its reputation. With Kyle Murphy, Zach Banner, Max Tuerk and Mike Matthews, among others, playing well this week against an impressive defensive line at West practice, backing up that showing in the game - where it counts most - will be intriguing. All recruiting cycle the West offensive linemen have been talked up. Many of them are here at the U.S Army All-American Bowl and now it's really time to back it up.
Josh Helmholdt: From the way he dresses to things he does with the football in his hands, Olney (Md.) Good Counsel wide receiver Stefon Diggs has a flair for the dramatic. He produced the most exciting play of East practices this week when he changed direction twice and eluded most of the West team before being stopped for a 5-yard gain. East head coach Robert Weiner has been scheming different ways to get the football in Diggs' hands and let the five-star's playmaking abilities loose. Diggs is often compared with current Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, and Jackson had an MVP performance in this game seven years ago. Diggs has the chance to make that type of an impact on Saturday, but let's hope he avoids Jackson's notoriously unsuccessful flip into the end zone.
Dallas Jackson: I am most excited to see the East defensive line in action. A lot of the hype and attention has been paid to the West offensive line as it performed well against its own teammates all week, but after spending time at the East practices it was clear that its defensive unit has really come together both athletically as well as in a bond of friendship. Darius Hamilton, Eli Harold, Tommy Schutt, Adolphus Washington, among others, have impressed. West quarterbacks Tyler Matthews and Zeke Pike are limited in their mobility and if the East defensive line gets on tilt it will be a long game.
Mike Farrell: I'm interested in seeing the West defensive line go against the East offensive line, especially Ondre Pipkins against Kyle Kalis if they match up. Kalis has been playing guard all week and has been very physical. Pipkins has been a force in the middle for the West and gets a great pocket push. Throw in Javonte Magee, Aziz Shittu, Alex Balducci and Ellis McCarthy, and you have a very strong, aggressive group for the West. D.J. Humphries, Kalis and others will have their hands full as they have struggled with the East defensive line all week.
Brian Perroni: The quarterbacks for the West squad have struggled all week in practice. The question remains as to if it will force the team to be one-dimensional. With wide receivers such as Dorial Green-Beckham, Durron Neal, Jordan Payton and Bralon Addison, the team has plenty of firepower at its disposal in the passing game. If the team has to go to the ground game too often, there could be a lot of three-and-outs for sure.