Remembering the Seniors: Alex Mack

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via www.nationalchamps.net

We thought we should go senior by senior and take a gander at their Cal career.  Some photos.  Some videos.  Some stats.  And if HydroTech has any personal stories of his time with the team, he'd share them.  We did Nate Longshore months ago, because Twist screwed up the scheduling.  Also, he's so dreamy!

Today, we do Alex Mack.

TwistNHook ESPN currently ranks Mack as the 32nd best player and the #1 Center.  They have him going to the Steelers at the end of the first round.  Now, wouldn't that be a great match?  Those great Steelers teams are always predicated on a great OLine.  Giving Big Ben plenty of time to scramble around and make a play.  Or paving the way for a dedicated rushing attack.  Mack would be great there.  Of course, ESPN is often wrong, but no matter where Mack goes, a team will be lucky to have him in the trenches. 

Yellow Fever:  It really is rare to see a center get this much publicity.  If memory serves me correctly, I think only two centers have gone in the first round in the past five years or so - Chris Spencer to Seattle, and Jeff Faine to the Browns.  Yes, I knew that off the top of my head.


The point is, Mack is really, really good, because it's clear that guys like him just don't come around very often.  I don't think there's any question that the team will miss him next year - but that said, I'm still scratching my head at the number of failed "Marshawn up the middle...no gain!" runs we had.  I guess they can't all be winners.

Ragnarok:  Running up the middle is hard, especially when everyone in the stadium knows that that's what you're going to try and do.

My guess is that most of us won't know how much we miss Mack until after the Oregon and USC games this September.

TwistNHook:  I miss him already.  I miss how we'd cuddle so close in our Snuggies together.  I miss how we'd buy ice cream together.  I miss how we'd solve crimes together.  Oh, Alex Mack, how I miss thee.

HydroTech:  Fever is right.  It is rare to see a center get so much attention.  Ironically though, don't most NFL experts predict Mack will play guard though?  I thought I read that somewhere.

TwistNHook:  Well, these days there is so much focus being placed on the left guard position.  Maybe they want to get the guy who has the most talent there, independent of where he played at the collegiate level. 

I mean Mack can do the splits! The splits!  I'm a fraction of his size and I can barely touch my knees!

Yellow Fever:  I don't think I'm going out on a limb when I say that says more about you than it does about him.

But you're right, teams do put more of a focus on guards rather than centers, because against a 4-3 defense, defensive tackles are lined up over each guard and the center is left almost an extra lineman who's free to help out in either matchup.  Only in a 3-4 alignment do nose tackles line up directly over the center - and that explains why a team like the Steelers, who play in the AFC North with a couple of teams that run the 3-4 (Cleveland, Baltimore) would value a stud center more than a team that has a schedule loaded with 4-3 defenses.


Avinash:  Yeah, and Mack's only experience with 3-4 alignments in the Pac-10 is probably against his own practice squad, right?

Ragnarok: Honestly, this is still my most enduring memory of Alex Mack:

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via grfx.cstv.com



Wish I could find a larger version...

 

CBKWit:  I have so many memories of Mack that it's hard for me write something coherent (ok, I rarely write anything coherent, so harder than usual).  I guess it starts back in 2005 around the Vegas bowl.  Some may not remember but we had a really good center before Mack, Marvin Philip.  Philip started every game in 2004 & 2005, finishing 2004 as an AP second team All-American and 2005 as an AP first team All-American, in addition to being named Cal's offensive MVP (for comparison's sake, Mack was only a third team AP All-American this year).  Despite the prospect of losing our All-American center to graduation, I remember telling anyone who would listen (and not too many people will listen to you talk about back-up centers, especially in Vegas) about a redshirt freshman named Alex Mack who was apparently mauling people in practice.  It's not too often that you can feel comfortable losing a first team All-American, but that's what Mack did.

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"The Mack Draddy!" via www.footballfoundation.com


I remember playing Tennessee at Memorial on NCAA Football 2007 and having Alex Mack pull and take out two guys to spring Forsett for a touchdown...and a few days later watching Mack take out THREE guys on almost an identical play (0:51 on the video) during the actual game.  I remember Mack eliminating two WSU players to spring Forsett for a 40 yard TD against the Cougs (2:02 on the same video), our only win in 7 games and perhaps my favorite single play from the 07 season.  I remember asking Mack after the USC game that year if he would be coming back in '08, and hoping that "I don't know, man" would become a yes.  I remember watching Mack run around the sidelines after the Emerald Bowl, slapping hands and thanking everyone that could get close enough to him as he tried to extend his Cal career for another 15 minutes.

Ironically, Mack departs in a fasion similar to Philip - with a much talked about younger player ready to take his place.  Chris Guarnero was a standout in practices as a redshirt freshman and played extremely well at left guard last year before going down for the year with a toe injury.  He may not equal Mack in his Cal career (who will?) but judging by what we've seen so far (that's him sprining Best on the first play), Cal's in good shape yet again at center.

HydroTech:  Let's talk pro prospectus. 

A while ago, despite everyone saying Mack was a 1st round pick, I thought he was really more of a second round pick, merely because centers just don't go that high.  But after Mack's good showing in the past few months, it actually sounds like he might work himself into the first round of the draft.  Perhaps somewhere in the latter fourth of the round.

TwistNHook:  Sounds good to me.

Some photos from the Women's Huddle.

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Avinash previously was interviewed about Alex Mack by the SBN Buffalo Bills blog, Buffalo Rumblings. 

Danzig's Mack Highlight Video:



So, those are our thoughts on Alex Mack?  What are yours?

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