atljbo Posted October 24, 2008 Share Posted October 24, 2008 Top linemen square off in Tech-Virginia gameBy KEN SUGIURAThe Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionThursday, October 23, 2008Darryl Richard will have a great vantage point for a highly anticipated individual matchup in Saturday’s Georgia Tech-Virginia game.Unfortunately for Richard, he’ll be a little too occupied to get much of a look at Cavaliers offensive tackle Eugene Monroe trying to fend off Jackets defensive end Michael Johnson.Said Richard, a Tech defensive tackle: “I won’t sit there during the game and watch that matchup, but I’m definitely going to look at it (later), because those are two great players.”Richard will be one of many observers. Both Monroe and Johnson are touted as first-round picks in the 2009 NFL draft. ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper ranks Monroe No. 1 and Johnson No. 2 among senior draft prospects.Including the Falcons, nine NFL teams have requested credentials to scout the game, which actually is a fairly typical number. But Kiper called it the best individual matchup of the weekend for scouts.“That’s going to be a **** of a battle,” said Tony Softli, the St. Louis Rams vice president for player personnel. “Two athletes going at each other. It’s going to be fun for us to see as scouts.”Tech defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said that Monroe, 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds, “is probably the best lineman we’ve played this year.” He describes Monroe as agile for his size and excellent at both pass and run blocking.“He’s got all the tools you’re looking for,” he said.A preseason all-ACC pick at tackle along with Tech’s Andrew Gardner, Monroe is part of a line that has only allowed eight sacks, tied for fewest in the ACC.Johnson, who has three sacks and eight tackles for loss this season while facing many double teams, plays on a defense that has 20 sacks, most in the ACC. Johnson and Monroe faced off last year, when Johnson was a pass rush specialist.“Big-time player,” said Johnson, 6-7 and 260. “He’s stout. It’s going to be fun to play against him. I know he’s going to come with his ‘A’ game.”Monroe called Johnson “an incredible athlete” and gave him an interesting tip of the cap.“He has different moves where he can bend his body,” Monroe said. “He can get his shoulder almost to waist level. I haven’t seen that move by anybody since my freshman year.”That player, Monroe said, was Florida State defensive end Kamerion Wimbley, who was the 13th pick of the 2006 draft and now plays linebacker for the Cleveland Browns.“He catches your attention very quickly,” Virginia coach Al Groh said of Johnson. “He’s got burst, he’s added power to his game and he’s got excellent technique.”In Kiper’s estimation, Monroe is not at the level of elite tackles like Orlando Pace or Walter Jones, but is “someone that you can put at left tackle and figure you’re going to get a solid NFL career.”As for Johnson, Kiper loves his athletic ability and frame. Kiper said “he hasn’t had as many game-changing plays as you’d want. He’s certainly a work in progress.“For Johnson, I’m looking for a breakout game,” Kiper said. “There’s no better time to have it than this week.”Johnson and Monroe won’t line up against each other every snap. Johnson and sophomore defensive end Derrick Morgan flip sides depending on which hash mark the ball is closer to and other circumstances.But, said defensive line coach Giff Smith, “they’ll get enough of each other, I imagine.”Richard said he has been reminding Johnson this week of the matchup to get Johnson’s motor going.“One thing about Mike is he prides himself on competition,” Richard said. “I think he’s up for the challenge. And I really want to see those two guys get after it.”This weekend can make Michael Johnson allot of money...... If Michael Johnson has a 2 or 3 game sack vs Eugene Monroe ..... He could move back into the top 15 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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