January 4, 2008

Offense-Defense: East DL dominates game

MIAMI, Fla. - For four days, the East squad offensive line of the Offense-Defense Bowl couldn't handle the East defensive linemen in practice. When the lights came on for the final time in the Orange Bowl, the West offensive line couldn't handle them either.

Led by end Earl Okine, the East recorded seven sacks in the first half and dominated the line of scrimmage in a 12-8 East win. Okine notched three and a half sacks for the game, plus three more tackles for loss, on his way to Defensive Player of the Game honors.

"I was just able to use my speed and get by whoever they put in front of me," said Okine, a Florida commitment. "Once I got going, the plays just kept coming."

Defensive end Keith Wells and tackles Corey Liuget and Micanor Regis also got into the sack column. Liuget and Regis dominated the interior for most of the night, collapsing the pocket from the inside so that West quarterbacks could not step up to avoid pressure from Okine and Wells.

"We had to get the ball out quick," said West quarterback Beau Sweeney. "It was good practice for me for escape ability - but sometimes there just wasn't anywhere to go."

As was the case throughout the practice week, East head coach Cris Carter was not made available for comment.

The West found some success running the ball, but usually only on sweeps and the occasional draw play. Just about every run between the tackles was met rudely by the East front. East defensive lineman Felton Banks gave the West some problems of his own in the first half, but was injured shortly before halftime and did not return. Banks spent the second half on crutches.

From the West perspective, the East's pass rushing success wasn't entirely unexpected. For one thing, pre-game food poisoning for West right guard Kermit Tyler forced a lineup change. Another West starter on the offensive front was injured, and with only one reserve on the roster, West head coach Terry Kirby said he had resort to switching a defensive lineman to offense.

West center David Decastro said preparation also factored..

"With an all-star game where you've only got a week to prepare, it's a lot easier to put together a defense than put together an offense," said Decastro, who is headed to Stanford next fall. "The defense is always going to have an advantage."

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