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January 4, 2008SAN ANTONIO - There will be a lot of great match-ups to watch in Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl, but after watching an entire week of practice, there's one that could take center stage.
The match-up that has been receiving the most build up for Saturday's game is West defensive end R.J. Washington against East left tackle Mike Adams.
All week in practice Washington has been unstoppable for the West, but on the flip side, nobody has been able to get by Adams in the East practice sessions.
The unofficial self-appointed spokesman for the West squad is Allen (Texas) wide receiver Dan Buckner. Even though Buckner will be a future Texas Longhorn and Washington an Oklahoma Sooner, he feels pretty confident that his guy can get the best of Adams on Saturday.
"Mike Adams is a big soft teddy bear," Buckner said. "The Big 12 runs the Big 10 all day, every day. My boy R.J. here, even though he's going to Oklahoma and I'm going to Texas, he's still going to wreck Mike Adams. End of story, it's over. Thank you."
Buckner made this strong statement about Adams while his arm was wrapped around Washington. When Washington was asked if he backs Buckner's statement, he said he likes his chances to win the match-up for Saturday.
"I'm always looking forward to a good challenge," Washington said. "I think it's going to be kind of a good thing. A couple of people kind of tell me Mike Adams is kind of cocky, so they're hoping I win. He's going to try his hardest and I'm going to try my hardest, so we'll just see what happens."
Most of the time Washington has beat his man in one-on-one drills by going to the outside. However, Washington said if Adams makes him go inside, he'll be ready for anything.
"Whatever I do will depend on what he's doing," Washington said. "If he's stepping back real far, I'm just going to come under him. If he's watching me come under, then I'm just going to spin back outside. Whatever he gives me is what I'm going to take."
Habern not worried about the glamour
This year's West offensive line may have as much talent as we've ever seen on one team at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
The West offensive line is comprised of mostly tackles, in fact only one player on the West line played on the interior in high school.
That lineman was Argyle (Texas) Liberty Christian standout Ben Habern, who will play at Oklahoma next season. Because there are no true centers on the West roster, Habern was forced to make the move there this week. Center is the position Habern will most likely play at OU, and West offensive line coach Andrew Bischoff of St. Paul (Minn.) Cretin-Derham Hall said the transition has gone pretty smoothly.
"He told me that's he's been trying to make the transition to Oklahoma," Bischoff said. "He's been taking snaps with some people back home. I think earlier the one technique was crowding his space a little bit with the ball. Occasionally there's an issue with the snap, but it's nothing major. He's really made a good transition with putting the ball in his hand. I think he's feeling more and more comfortable every day."
What probably stands out the most about Habern's game is the sound technique he plays with. At 6-foot-3, 280 pounds, Habern has to do whatever he can to give himself an edge.
"I'm not as big as these other guys, so technique is real important," Habern said. "Some of these guys are over 6-6 and over 300 pounds. I'm a little bit shorter and a little bit thinner, so I definitely have to be quicker and I have to get leverage and better technique than the defensive linemen. That's what I've been working on for college."
Moore lays the wood
Thursday's practice sessions at the Blossom Athletic complex for the West team were supposed to be light workouts with limited contact.
Apparently everybody got West head coach Bob Jones' memo accept Los Angeles Susan Miller Dorsey safety Rahim Moore.
The 6-foot-2, 190 pound Moore laid crushing hits to Buckner and tight end Austin Holt within a period of less than five minutes. The shot to Holt was so hard, that it kept him on the ground in serious pain for several minutes.
"I wasn't very excited about that," Jones said. "That's the kind of hit you put on somebody during the first day of practice, not the last day of pads. We don't want to get anybody hurt, and fortunately we didn't. Rahim is just so fired up, that hell he just took a shot on somebody and then he got another one in there. I guess if he didn't do anything else, he woke our receivers up, that's for sure."
Crist not worried about Clausen
When Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist committed to Notre Dame, several people asked him the same question.
The question that Crist is continually asked is why would he commit to Notre Dame, knowing that he'll most likely have to sit behind current starter Jimmy Clausen for the next three years.
"I don't think I've stopped getting that since I've committed," Crist said. "You just have to take it with a grain of salt. It wasn't anybody else's decision. It was mine and only mine. I knew that I had to make the decision that is right for me."
When asked to compare himself to Clausen, Crist said the only thing he could say is they are two completely different quarterbacks.
Crist and Clausen have actually known each other since junior high and the two workout with the same quarterback coach back in California.
"I think we are very different quarterbacks," Crist said. "We do train with the same quarterback coach, but there are uncanny differences between the two of us.
"I try not to get myself branded into one genre. I just do whatever it takes to win. If you told me I was going to throw the ball only one time and run the wishbone and win a national championship, then you'd have my signature on that letter of intent."
Who will start at quarterback?
A big question for the head coach ever year in the U.S. Army Bowl is who will be the starting quarterback.
Jones said on Thursday he has yet to make a decision as to who will start between Crist, Parkway (Mo.) West's Blaine Gabbert and Houston Stratford's Andrew Luck.
"We'll probably paper, rock, scissor to figure that out," Jones joked. "They're all pretty good. All three of them will play every other series and we'll do it that way. I couldn't tell you right now.
"We'll rotate them every series. If you get a three-and-out, that sucks to be you. Hopefully we don't have that many three-and-outs."
• Jones said he could tell on Thursday that his players are really getting anxious for Saturday's game.
"They're getting antsy and they want to play," Jones said. "So we had to have a little meeting in the middle of practice. We had to bring them in a couple of times just to talk to them, but they popped right back. They've been with us for a week and they feel real comfortable with us and we feel real comfortable with them."
• Bischoff, who is in his 14th season at Minnesota power Cretin-Derham Hall said on Thursday he feels like a kid on Christmas morning getting to coach the kind of talent he's worked with this week in San Antonio.
"I just feel real lucky," Bischoff said. "I'm not going to have too many of these chances as a high school coach. Even though we've been blessed back home with some good kids, you are never going to have this kind of volume.
• The West team will hold a short walk-thru practice from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Friday at the Blossom Athletic Complex.
• More Army All-American Bowl Coverage | U.S. Army All-American Bowl Rosters