DETROIT - The Bulldogs of Detroit Loyola were hardly challenged during the course of the 2012 regular season. Their scores over the course of the season averaged 43.9-6.6, and only Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes came close, falling by just 10 points.
It was more of the same for Loyola Saturday afternoon in a second-round playoff matchup against Grosse Pointe University Liggett. The Bulldogs opened up a 48-0 halftime lead before emptying the bench in the second half and holding on for a 50-7 victory.
Offensively, Loyola was led by running back Keymonne Gabriel, who had an easy time running through the holes opened up by a powerful offensive line including juniors Ka'John Armstrong and Malik McDowell.
On defense, Liggett could find no openings. Against a voracious defensive line (led by McDowell), the pass and the run were both snuffed out as options. The middle was closed down by the stout tackles in Loyola's 5-2 scheme, and when the Knights attempted to pass, pressure came too soon for receivers to find openings downfield.
McDowell provided pressure on nearly every passing attempt after Liggett abandoned the run early, and notched four first-half sacks, as well.
McDowell BreakdownThe quality of competition that McDowell faces is never going to be the highest at Detroit Loyola, which plays in the seventh of Michigan's eight divisions of high school ball. However, he has shown in camps over the summer that he can get it done against top competition - including against five-star players at the Rivals Challenge in Atlanta - and that's not much of a concern. He has the power and quickness to beat offensive linemen in a variety of ways, and he's comfortable doing it.
That said, at this level of competition, he's a little over-reliant on his swim move. It's tough to fault the kid when it works nearly every single time (except in instances where an obvious hold or chop block was committed against him, there was only one passing attempt that he didn't provide pressure or get a sack), you can't hold it against him. McDowell also showed off a bull-rush on a couple instances early in the game when the run was still a nominal threat, and clearly won all of those reps.
That's not to say McDowell is the perfect player. There are times when he gets over-aggressive (or under-aggressive) which prevents him from finishing plays, and he can get frustrated easily when things don't go his way. That was more apparent on offense, where he committed a couple dumb penalties on late hits. As he continues to develop and mature as a player, that shouldn't be an issue anymore.
Physically, McDowell looks as good as ever. He appears to be a little lighter than he was earlier this season - only natural over the course of the fall playing as much as he does on both sides of the ball - and is probably around 6-6, 280. He's still thickly-built, but doesn't have any excess weight and a little of his upper-body muscle definition has faded with his focus shifting from the weight room to the practice field.
He lined up primarily at 2-technique defensive tackle in a 5-2 front, showing off his ability to be a difference-maker on the interior of the line. He also got some reps as a 3-technique tackle and at defensive end in four-man fronts. At the college level, he could play inside or outside. While it's easy to look at his size and say "that kid belongs on the interior of the line," his quickness would definitely give him the opportunity to play defensive end in college as well. He gets off the ball so quickly that he's a pass-rushing terror even at the next level. Should he end up at Michigan, playing either the 3-technique tackle or 5-technique defensive end (practically interchangeable in Greg Mattison's effective scheme) seems likely. Inside, he has the quickness to bring an "SEC-style" defensive front to the Big Ten.