Duane Long's All-Star thoughts

Duane Long has checked in with his thoughts on the North/South game. Take a look.

Saturday night, I saw the most competitive North-South All-Star game that I have ever seen. The players came out ready to show their stuff and try and to win the game. I was very disappointed with the officiating. I saw several bad calls and it seemed like they were making some of the rules up as they went along. There were unnecessary delays in the game that stretched the length of the game far beyond what it should have been. There was no reason this game should not have been over by 10PM. Instead, it lasted well past 11. 

Players the Buckeyes will miss the most: 

1 – Bryan Andrews. It raised a few eyebrows when I said he would be a top 3 player in last year's stellar class with his grades in order. I doubt anybody would argue with that assessment after seeing Andrews perform last night. He was the best player on the field.  

2 – Anthony Smith – The next Mike Doss with wear orange and blue not scarlet and gray. He had 5 or 6 hits that had the crowd oohing and ahhing.  

3 – Kyle Ralph – I have now seen quite a bit of Ralph. He is outstanding most of the time and is always consistently good. He moves well and has instincts you can't teach. He is a better pass blocker than Datish right now.  The Buckeyes have great pass rushers and some top drawer safety talent on the field and waiting in the wings. If you go by need, the lack of tackles on the roster makes the loss of Ralph the biggest for this class. 

4 – Ashton Watson – What a compliment he would be have been to Underwood.  

5 – Barry Cofield – Talk about big kids who can run.  

Biggest surprises: 

1 – Rob Sims – He is coming along nicely. He was moved to tackle some in this game and handled it well. He was the only OL on the north squad who could block Penton. 

2 – Jay Richardson – He is getting bigger but seems faster. I still don't know whether he will play DT or DE but the Buckeyes landed a player who will have an impact. If he plays DE, he is big enough to have an impact as a freshman and has improved enough to make that a possibility. He was relentless last night. 

3 – Joel Penton – He always seemed to be overlooked, including by me. He had a great game. He showed a high motor and some advanced skills as a pass rusher. Lets put a hold on him moving over to offense. 

4 – Nate Szep - I include him in the surprise category because I can't believe a QB this good is going to play his college ball at Washington University of Missouri. You can't just look at the Buckeyes. None of the Big 10 schools offered him, nor did Notre Dame. All he has done is lead his team to the big school state championship and to victory in the All-Star game while winning the MVP award.  

Are there any remaining questions about E.J. Underwood? What a game he played. He had Roy Hall really went at it. He brings the complete package and is technically more sound than Whitner and Hiley. I think he'll be a Buckeye starter from game one. Watch. 

Speaking of Roy Hall, all he does is continue to draw comparisons to David Boston. Every time I see him, he looks more and more like he is going to live up to it.  

Bobby Carpenter and A.J. Hawk can RUN!!! We didn't get to see them taking on blockers and runners -- the rule that there had to be a certain percentage of runs to passes was completely ignored -- but both showed they are not going to be taken off the field on passing downs. We expected as much out of Carpenter, but Hawk showed he can play the passing lanes and even man up when called upon to do it. Both closed on ball carriers like you want to see LBs close on ball carriers. 

Tim Schafer had a sack and played a good football game. He tired late, as did most of the south defense. There are just not enough players in good shape at this time of year. If the organizers are not going to enforce the run-pass rule, then they need to expand the rosters. The South defense faced 74 plays.  

There was so little negative to mention. The Buckeye recruits played very well. I would say for the most part they were better than I thought they would be this early.

The most glaring negative was Zwick. He did not have a good football game. The rush was relentless and he did face the South defensive line when it was fresh, but Szep was the game's MVP and threw 2 TD passes. They alternated most of the game.  

I am sure you will notice that I didn't mention Mike Kudla. He was slightly injured on the 3rd play of the game. You could see the change in the way he played after that. He was not kept in for long. It is a minor groin injury and will not have an impact on his preparation for the coming season. He tried to play -- he played with a broken hand so you had to assume a slight groin pull would not keep him out -- but wisdom prevailed and we didn't see him beyond halfway through the 1st quarter.  

Some other players headed to other schools had good nights. David Abdul nailed a 44-yarder from a bad angle and Kenny Harper showed an inconsistent but powerful leg as a punter. The two Gahanna prospects, Quentin White and Brandon Jones, had good football games. White played well as a safety and Jones showed he could be a game-breaker at WR. They are headed to Minnesota and Bowling Green respectively. DeShawn Wynn looked heavy and not as quick as I saw him during the season, but like I said, most players are not in game shape right now. Tony Franklin is going to be an outstanding player for Virginia. P.J. Pope is also headed for Bowling Green. He was the best back on the field.  

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