Tebow struggles in Senior Bowl, 'open' to work on fundamentals

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow looked shaky while running a pro-style offense against a sturdy defense, fumbling twice during the South's 31-13 loss to the North in Saturday night's Under Armour Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

Tebow completed 8 of 12 passes for 50 yards, but his longest completion in the showcase for senior NFL prospects was 11 yards. He never was turned loose as a power runner, like he was in college, and netted just 4 yards on four carries.

Tebow battled strep throat early in the week, but he didn't miss any practice time while he tried to show skeptical NFL teams and draft analysts that he can be a starting professional quarterback.

"I think I'm definitely open to improving my fundamentals," Tebow said after the game. "I think I definitely showed that by being here. If you just watched the way I played, you could see there is room for improvement and what I need to work on."

Meanwhile, Cincinnati wide receiver Mardy Gilyard turned in an awfully strong audition, catching five passes for 103 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown grab in the fourth quarter to help the North team win.

"All my hard work just kind of came into one game," said Gilyard, who was selected as the game's Offensive Most Valuable Player. "I'm truly blessed. I worked my butt off and I played my butt off."

Gilyard came a long way to reach this point. In 2006, he was academically ineligible and lost his scholarship, so he had to take jobs ranging from cutlery salesman to construction worker to pay his steep out-of-state tuition bills. He eventually won back his scholarship and became one of the nation's top all-purpose threats.

Gilyard also set up a third-quarter touchdown with a 43-yard catch down the right sideline. Both that pass and the TD came from Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour.

"This game sums up everything, because I've been through all the hard work, all the ups and all the downs, the peaks and the valleys," said Gilyard, who also returned two kickoffs for 52 yards and two punts for 24 yards. "I've been through everything. I've been from the brown sticky stuff at the bottom of the barrel to the cream at the top of the coffee."

Michigan defensive lineman Brandon Graham had two sacks and a forced fumble and was chosen the game's MVP. The South committed six turnovers.

"It shows that I'm going to go hard 100 percent of the time all day and whoever gets me is going to love me," Graham said.

Mississippi State's Jamar Chaney earned defensive MVP honors.

Tulane wide receiver Jeremy Williams had six catches for 82 yards, added a 27-yard run on an end around and was named the South's most outstanding player. LeFevour won that honor for the North. He completed half of his 10 passes for 97 yards and added a 1-yard touchdown run, once again outdistancing the much more heralded Tebow.

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LeFevour finished with more total touchdowns (150) than any other player in the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision, including Tebow (145).

Oklahoma State's Zac Robinson had the game's best passing numbers, throwing for 176 yards and one touchdown before having a pass intercepted late in the game.

Tebow played 11 snaps in the first half, and the South was down two scores by the time he re-entered the game to loud applause from the Ladd-Pebbles Stadium crowd late in the third.

Ole Miss running back Dexter McCluster fumbled two plays into Tebow's first drive of the half, and his second began at the South's 1-yard line. Tebow led the South to a couple of first downs before Utah's Koa Misi stripped the ball from him. Tebow had another fumble on the next drive, but USC offensive lineman Jeff Byers fell on the ball.

The miscues didn't dampen Tebow's enthusiasm for the sport that has made him one of college sports' biggest stars.

"It's a game of football," Tebow said. "You're playing with a bunch of great players, a bunch of great coaches. I'm out here playing football. I love it."

Gilyard's Cincinnati teammate, Tony Pike, is considered the top-rated NFL prospect among the participating quarterbacks, and he looked solid in a brief outing. He was 5-of-12 passing for 45 yards -- all in the first half. Gilyard caught two of those passes for 21 yards.

Oregon's LeGarrette Blounthad a 14-yard touchdown run for the North, and Fresno State's Lonyae Miller gained a game-high 44 yards on nine carries.

Alabama players accounted for all of the South's points. Tight end Colin Peek caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Robinson, and Leigh Tiffin booted field goals of 43 and 33 yards.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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