There was another game of note played in the shadow of the Super Bowl this weekend: Texas vs. The Nation. In a case where truth is stranger than fiction, the last of the January-February college all-star games has a title that echoes the state government’s desire for seccession. It’s held at Eagle Stadium in Allen, Texas -– a $60 million high school facility. Considering the monstrosity that Jerry Jones built down the road in Dallas, it all makes sense. You just have to understand a Texan’s priorities.
The most talked-about Texas vs. The Nation prospect this week was Tulane quarterback Ryan Griffin. His play surprised some –- “those” being media who don’t pay attention to college football beyond the top 30 to 45 teams. Considering that I watched Griffin throw 66 passes against the Houston Cougars in November, I wasn’t among those who had their cherry popped Texas-Style.
The rite of passage I did experience while watching Griffin was that of another Texas vs. The Nation participant, Cougars linebacker Phillip Steward. The 6-foot-0, 230-pound, All-Conference USA defender had 11 sacks this year and he was ranked ninth in the country with 9.5 tackles for a loss. A good run defender, where Steward excels is pass coverage. He had nine interceptions over the past two seasons –- six of them last year, which was tops among linebackers in college football.
The Cougars often placed Stewart in the slot in its nickel package, and the linebacker claims that he has the best hands on a team that has historically been a pass-happy program. Big words, but when you see some of his highlights you’ll realize that, just like most things in Texas, it all makes crazy sense. Here are several plays that should give you an idea why Steward was not only a marquee commodity at Texas vs. The Nation, but also fared well as a late addition to the Senior Bowl. Read the rest at Football Outsiders.