NCF Nation: Eugene Monroe

ACC's (late) lunchtime links

February, 19, 2009
2/19/09
1:37
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

We interrupt the construction of Mt. Rushmore for your daily Bryce Brown update, um, I mean lunchtime links ...

  • The Bryce Brown Saga continues, as his father insists "everything is fine" and Bryce will still visit Miami. There's at least one source at Miami, though, who told the Palm Beach Post otherwise. Apparently, it only took "a 10-second phone conversation" for Miami to let Brown know they were no longer interested.
  • Here's one way of making room for the Tar Heels' too-large recruiting class: dismiss three football players.
  • Will Clemson add TCU to its 2009 schedule? Apparently there is an opening that has yet to be filled.
  • Former Virginia left tackle Eugene Monroe will do his part to keep of the tradition of representing the program's offensive linemen at the NFL Scouting Combine.
  • In all, Virginia coach Al Groh will have five new faces on his staff this fall.

ACC's lunchtime links

January, 22, 2009
1/22/09
1:43
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Here are a few stories of note from around the ACC:

  • Miami is expected to hire an offensive coordinator soon, and quarterback Jacory Harris said he is confident coach Randy Shannon "will hire the perfect guy."
  • Georgia Tech defensive end Michael Johnson is healthy, but he's not playing in the Senior Bowl. He's not the only one. Wake Forest outside linebacker Aaron Curry, Virginia offensive tackle Eugene Monroe have also decided not to play in Saturday's 6 p.m. game. Odd.
  • Florida State still has a few needs to fill with signing day just around the corner. UNC just added another defensive back.
  • Virginia Tech fans have reason to be excited. The preseason polls aren't out yet, but most believe the 2009 Hokies are a top 10 team.
  • My favorite part of this analysis of Maryland's 2008 quarterbacks is how much bang for the buck the Terps got on backup quarterback Josh Portis.

All-ACC 2008

December, 10, 2008
12/10/08
10:57
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

OFFENSE

QB -- Russell Wilson, NC State
RB -- Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech
RB -- C.J. Spiller, Clemson
TE -- John Phillips, Virginia
OL -- Eugene Monroe, Virginia
OL -- Matt Tennant, Boston College
OL -- Andrew Gardner, Georgia Tech
OL -- Edwin Williams, Maryland
OL -- Rodney Hudson, Florida State
WR -- Hakeem Nicks, UNC
WR -- D.J. Boldin, Wake Forest
K -- Graham Gano, Florida State

DEFENSE

LB -- Clint Sintim, Virginia
LB -- Michael Tauiliili, Duke
LB -- Mark Herzlich, Boston College
LB -- Aaron Curry, Wake Forest
DL -- Everette Brown, Florida State
DL -- Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech
DL -- B.J. Raji, Boston College
DB -- Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest
DB -- Victor Harris, Virginia Tech
S -- Trimane Goddard, North Carolina
S -- Morgan Burnett, Georgia Tech

SPECIALIST

C.J. Spiller

PUNTER

Travis Baltz, Maryland

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

1. North Carolina's losing winning trend. In all six of their wins this season, North Carolina has had to trail before they have won. And the two losses? They were winning most of the way. UNC seems to be at its best when the pressure is on.

2. How Georgia Tech's offensive line fares without Andrew Gardner for the first time in 48 games. They Yellow Jackets will depend heavily on Nick Claytor and Austin Barrick. Both of them played significant snaps against Florida State, but nobody on the line has the experience Gardner had.

3. Turnovers in Chapel Hill. Georgia Tech has the nation's leader in interceptions in Morgan Burnett. But North Carolina leads the nation in interceptions. Fortunately for the Yellow Jackets, they don't throw the ball that much. They have been known to fumble it once or twice, though.

4. Wake Forest's defensive line against Virginia's offensive line. In order to have a chance at winning, the Demon Deacons need to stop Cedric Peerman. In order to do that, they've gotta get past NFL prospect Eugene Monroe.

5. Virginia tailback Cedric Peerman. Peerman took the first fumble of his career last week against Miami pretty hard. He's the heart of the offense in terms of leadership, so they'll need him to bounce back quickly.

6. Duke running back Clifford Harris. He filled in for injured fullback Tielor Robinson at Wake Forest and scored two touchdowns. He's very football-savvy and has the ability to play both fullback and tailback, and can catch the ball out of the backfield.

7. Florida State's kickoff coverage team against C.J. Spiller. The Noles are allowing 21 yards per return, and Spiller is second in the ACC with a 31.9 return yard average and one touchdown.

8. Turnovers in Tallahassee. Unlike Georgia Tech and North Carolina who take the ball away, these two teams give it away. Clemson and FSU are the ACC's two worst teams in terms of turnover margin. FSU is minus-4 and Clemson is minus-9. Clemson has had 10 turnovers in its past two games.

9. Boston College pass defense against Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen. The Eagles have the nation's No. 12 pass efficiency defense while Notre Dame is 18th nationally in passing offense.

10. The big picture. Nobody can really afford to lose anymore, but Florida State, Georgia Tech and North Carolina seem to have the most to lose this weekend. The Noles are still trying to become bowl eligible, and the Yellow Jackets and Tar Heels are both trying to avoid their third Coastal Division loss. Wake Forest, Boston College and Virginia can all become bowl eligible this weekend.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Well, last week's predictions weren't very good (2-2), but who could have foreseen two of four games going into overtime? That's why I'm coming prepared this week and picking one overtime game.

I enter Week 11 with a 50-21 record (70.4 percent) on the picks. Oh, and I'm 8-0 with my Florida State picks this season, but the Noles lost both times I've seen them play. Even Myron Rolle agreed I'm bad luck, so don't worry FSU fans, I'm staying outta Tally this weekend.

Here's the ACC forecast for Week 11:

Maryland 21, Virginia Tech 17 -- Yes, Lane Stadium and intangibles are all against the Terps. Virginia Tech hasn't lost three in a row since 2002. But Maryland has the veteran team, and a quarterback who is at his best against the best.

North Carolina 23, Georgia Tech 20 (OT) -- They are such similar teams that odds are it's going to come down to turnovers. On paper, the Yellow Jackets have the edge in total offense and scoring defense, but that was when they had injured offensive tackle Andrew Gardner in the lineup.

Florida State 28, Clemson 24 -- The Atlantic Division titles is now on the line with every game the Seminoles play, and while Clemson can't be ruled out quite yet, there seems to be a greater sense of urgency for FSU.

Wake Forest 21, Virginia 17 -- The Demon Deacons made progress on offense, but everyone in Winston-Salem knows they're not quite there yet. They'll need some more help from an opportunistic defense, but even this veteran defensive line will be tested by the Cavs' offensive line, led by Eugene Monroe.

Duke 28, NC State 21 -- The Blue Devils have the home-field advantage in this renewed rivalry (as long as there aren't more red-clad fans who actually show up), and will face the ACC's worst defense. Duke is still playing for bowl eligibility.

Notre Dame 24, Boston College 17 -- The Irish have something to prove, as they have come close but not quite in one too many games this season, and haven't beaten the Eagles in their past five tries. BC has been too limited on offense this season.

OFF: Miami

What to watch in the ACC

October, 24, 2008
10/24/08
11:10
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

1. Miami's quarterbacks -- C'mon, tired subject or not, you know you want to see who plays more -- starter Robert Marve or his backup, Jacory Harris. Marve has struggled in the past two games while Harris scored five touchdowns off the bench against Duke.

2. The struggling offenses -- Can Wake Forest and Virginia Tech muster up enough yardage to win against two of the ACC's stingiest defenses? Whoever gets the better performance from their offensive lines and wide receivers has the best chance to win in the Sunshine State.

3. FSU's defense vs. Tyrod Taylor -- It's been the main focus in Tallahassee this week, stopping the Hokies' mobile quarterback. They can't afford to let him get out in space. We'll see if FSU linebacker Dekoda Watson is able to help.

4. Turnovers in Chapel Hill -- North Carolina still leads the nation in interceptions and will be happy to take advantage of another five-turnover performance, but it's the Eagles who have the best pass defense in the ACC.

5. NC State quarterback Russell Wilson vs. Maryland's depleted secondary -- This could be the difference in the game, as cornerback Kevin Barnes, the Terps' leader in the defensive backfield, is out with a shoulder injury, and Wilson is getting better every weekend.

6. Virginia's linebackers -- They've been playing well the past few weeks, but they haven't seen the offense that will be coming at them on Saturday. Limiting the Yellow Jackets' big plays will be key.

7. North Carolina's tweaked offense -- After having another week to get used to his original position since moving from running back, receiver Greg Little should feel a little more comfortable running routes.

8. Bowl eligibility -- It's a weekend where Boston College, Florida State, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and North Carolina have a chance to become bowl eligible. And Duke is trying to prevent Vanderbilt from its first bowl game since 1982.

9. David Cutcliffe vs. Bobby Johnson -- Cutcliffe might be one of the ACC's hottest coaches this year, but his experience is in the SEC. He knows Vanderbilt, but can he beat the Commodores with Duke's starters instead of Tennessee's?

10. Virginia offensive lineman Eugene Monroe vs. Georgia Tech defensive end Michael Johnson -- You want to watch two future NFL linemen have at it, this is your chance. It will be the highlight between an offensive line that has allowed just eight sacks all season -- tied for fewest in the ACC -- and a defensive line that has 20 sacks, the most in the ACC.

Sneak peek at Week 9 in the ACC

October, 21, 2008
10/21/08
11:25
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Boston College at North Carolina
You know this one will be a low-scoring, defensive struggle. BC ranks in the top 25 in the nation in nine different categories and boast the best pass-efficiency defense and red zone defense in the country. The defensive front seven is one of the best in the league, with B.J. Raji, Ron Brace and Mark Herzlich leading the way.

UNC's defense has assumed the role Wake Forest had last year and leads the ACC with five nonoffensive touchdowns (three interception returns, one punt return and one blocked punt recovery in the end zone). Last week was the first time in six games that UNC didn't grab an interception. Would you believe that neither of UNC's past two opponents have been able to muster more than 90 yards on the ground?

Butch Davis is 6-0 against the Eagles as a head coach, but BC has been one of the nation's best road teams over the past six seasons at 24-10. The Eagles are one win away from their 10th straight bowl appearance.

Wake Forest at Miami
The Deacs are unranked for the first time this season and will be playing their second straight ACC road game. Last week's 26-0 loss to Maryland marked the first time Wake Forest had been shut out by an ACC opponent since 1996. Sam Swank is listed as questionable for this game, and so is the WF offense, especially since the offensive line took another big hit.

Redshirt sophomore Trey Bailey, who had a tough task this season in replacing Steve Justice, suffered a broken right ankle against Maryland and underwent surgery on Sunday. Bailey is expected to be out six weeks and miss the remainder of the regular season. It is possible he could return if the Deacons are invited to a bowl game.

He was replaced at center by guard Russell Nenon. True freshman Joe Looney took Nenon's spot at left guard. Should Looney start against Miami, he would be the first true freshman to start for Wake since Chris DeGeare earned a start at right guard against NC State on Oct. 22, 2005.

The offensive line has been at the root of Wake's problems this season, and the loss of Bailey obviously won't help this weekend against an aggressive Miami defense.

Duke at Vanderbilt
Duke coach David Cutcliffe should be familiar with his next opponent from his time in the SEC, and is well-aware of the success Bobby Johnson has had this season. Like many teams in the SEC, though, Johnson has been winning with defense. Vandy ranks 118th in the nation in total offense with 249 yards per game, but the Commodores lead the SEC in sacks. Still, they're close to their first bowl game for the first time since 1982, and will have extra motivation in trying to rebound from the loss to Georgia.

Virginia Tech at Florida State
While the Hokies are still trying to find their offense, Florida State is running the ball an average of 18 times more per game and is 3-0 since its loss to Wake Forest. And the Noles success on third downs -- both converting them and stopping them -- has been significant. In their past two games, Florida State has converted 62 percent of its third downs. They're on a streak of 28 consecutive drives without a three-and-out. FSU leads the nation in stopping teams on third downs.

Meanwhile, the Hokies are 110th in the nation in total offense. They're even worse (114th) in passing offense. Coach Frank Beamer insists that it's not just one person (Tyrod Taylor), rather it's missed assignments on the offensive line or blown routes by receivers. The Hokies do have the fifth-best rushing defense in the ACC, though, and that will obviously be a factor against Antone Smith and FSU's run-based offense. Virginia Tech is holding its opponents to an average of 122.6 yards, while the Seminoles are averaging 216.

Virginia at Georgia Tech
The battle to watch in this game will be defensive end Michael Johnson against left tackle Eugene Monroe, and there will be plenty of scouts in the press box to see it firsthand. Both have first-round draft potential. Considering that matchup, it's no surprise this game will feature the ACC's leader in sacks (Georgia Tech), against the league's co-leader in fewest sacks allowed (Virginia).

Also, the Cavaliers have averaged 27.3 points and 377.3 total yards per game during its three-game winning streak, but Georgia Tech has the stingiest scoring defense in the ACC (11.6 points per game).

NC State at Maryland
NC State coach Tom O'Brien has deemed that the fickle Terps have everything they need to be a "championship-caliber football team," and Maryland enters its homecoming game in a four-way tie for first place in the Atlantic Division. The Wolfpack, though, are aiming to be the spoiler. In last week's shutout of Wake Forest, though, the Terps finally put it together in all three phases of the game, and a breakout performance by receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was a huge difference in the offense. Another difference has been the offensive line, which has allowed just two sacks in the past four games.

NC State has also made improvements in recent weeks. The Pack hasn't turned the ball over once in the past two games, the first time that has happened since 2002. It's a much different offense when quarterback Russell Wilson and tight end Anthony Hill are healthy and in the lineup.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

  • You think Clemson has issues with its offensive line? Try meeting the standards of Paul Johnson, who said, "those five guys up front got their lunch handed to them pretty good." By, um, Gardner-Webb.
  • Who would've guessed that the only Bowden still coaching this week would be the 78-year-old patriarch? 
  • Here's the skinny on Cullen Harper's shoulder.
  • The person saying the most about Chuck Amato on Thursday night was -- you guessed it -- Chuck Amato.
  • Duke quarterback Thaddeus Lewis already has the scouting report on his buddies at Miami. No really, they're friends.
  • The NFL talk is a distraction for Virginia left tackle Eugene Monroe. But for linebacker Clint Sintim, one of the best pass rushers in the ACC? Not so much.
  • Boston College might want to look out for this guy -- that is, if the Eagles can recognize him.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

The ACC is definitely defensive: North Carolina couldn't get in the end zone in the first half, Wake Forest has had trouble scoring from as close as the 2-yard line, and Miami held UCF to 78 total yards. And what would Georgia Tech have done if its defense didn't hold Gardner-Webb to just seven points, or get a hand on the final field goal attempt? The touchdown-less Florida State-Wake Forest game last month was a foreshadowing of what this league would be about. Three teams -- Florida State, Boston College and Georgia Tech -- are among the top six teams in the country in total defense. Add Wake Forest and Miami in the top 20.

The Tar Heels are ahead of schedule in the rebuilding process -- If this is what they're capable of without their starting quarterback and top playmaker Brandon Tate, what can they do when everyone is healthy? Heck, will T.J. Yates even get his job back? UNC hasn't been the most prolific team on offense, but the Tar Heels have become experts at capitalizing on opponents' mistakes -- and forcing them into it. UNC further padded its stats as the nation's leader in interceptions (14), picking off Jimmy Clausen twice. What it's lacked on offense, the Tar Heels have compensated for with special teams and defense.

Virginia is to be taken seriously -- The Cavaliers caught some attention with their win over Maryland, but this weekend proved they have made legitimate progress. The talent on this team is plentiful -- Cedric Peerman, Kevin Ogletree, the linebackers, and offensive tackle Eugene Monroe is an NFL lineman. They had to come together as a team, though, to find their identity, which could be determined as relentless.

Georgia Tech's offense doesn't work without its top two quarterbacks and the right offensive line -- Third-string quarterback Calvin Booker isn't suited for Paul Johnson's offense, and didn't help that he was playing behind an offensive line that has struggled all season. The more Johnson recruits, the better suited the line will be to execute the triple option. With Jaybo Shaw and Josh Nesbitt sidelined with injuries, the Yellow Jackets didn't look anywhere near a Top 25 team -- not in a too-close-for-comfort 10-7 win over an FCS team. Yikes.

Clemson is officially the biggest bust of the season -- Not just in the ACC, but possibly on a national level, too. We're talking about the No. 9-ranked team in the preseason (admittedly too high), but still a team loaded with talent -- a roster other coaches throughout the country would love to borrow from for one Saturday. And yet the Tigers have not been able to do anything with it, instead playing themselves into obscurity and almost out of the Atlantic Division race for sure.

Preseason All-ACC team

August, 26, 2008
8/26/08
10:39
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Just so you know, I agonize over these things. You can't pick everyone.

Here's the final version:

OFFENSE

QB -- Cullen Harper, Clemson
RB -- Josh Adams, Wake Forest
RB -- James Davis, Clemson
WR -- Aaron Kelly, Clemson
WR -- Hakeem Nicks, North Carolina
TE -- Ryan Purvis, Boston College
T -- Andrew Gardner, Georgia Tech
T -- Eugene Monroe, Virginia
G -- Rodney Hudson, Florida State
G -- Sergio Render, Virginia Tech
C -- Edwin Williams, Maryland

DEFENSE

DE -- Everette Brown, Florida State
DE -- Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech
DT -- Ron Brace, Boston College
DT -- Vance Walker, Georgia Tech
LB -- Aaron Curry, Wake Forest
LB -- Clint Sintim, Virginia
LB -- Michael Tauiliili, Duke
CB -- Victor Harris, Virginia Tech
CB -- Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest
S -- Michael Hamlin, Clemson
S -- Chip Vaughn, Wake Forest

SPECIALISTS

PK -- Sam Swank, Wake Forest
P -- Brent Bowden, Virginia Tech (Graham Gano is injured, out 3-5 weeks)
KO RET -- C.J. Spiller, Clemson
PUNT RET -- Preston Parker, Florida State (following his two-game suspension, of course)

ACC in the 2009 NFL draft

July, 11, 2008
7/11/08
12:17
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

 
 Brad Schloss/Icon SMI
 Michael Johnson has recorded 10 sacks during his career at Georgia Tech.

Before compiling this list, I spoke with an NFL scout to get his take, just so you don't think I'm pulling names out of a hat. Here's what we came up with for the top 10 ACC players to watch with NFL draft potential (sorry, Miami, but we both agreed your best NFL talent is only 18 years old):

1. Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia: This hulking 315-pound left tackle might be the best offensive lineman in the ACC and should be a first-round pick.

2. Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech: He hasn't even started yet, but the 6-foot-7 senior is extremely athletic and one of the team's best pass rushers.

3. Aaron Kelly, WR, Clemson: The 1,000-yard receiver led the ACC with 83.2 receiving yards per game last season.

4. C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson: Spiller is a smaller back, explosive and borderline first-round talent, but should be highly sought after for his speed. He led the Tigers in all-purpose running last year with 1,723 yards, 132.5 per game.

5. Ricky Sapp, DE/OLB, Clemson: The junior had 10 tackles for loss, five sacks and 22 quarterback pressures as a sophomore when he started all 13 games.

6.  Victor "Macho" Harris, CB, Virginia Tech: A strong tackler who will see more man-to-man coverage and passed on the NFL Draft to return for his senior season. Brandon Flowers' success at the next level will help determine where he goes because similar in speed and skill.

7. Vance Walker, DT/DE, Georiga Tech: He had 14 tackles for a loss last year and 8.5 sacks. He also forced three fumbles and recovered two.

8. Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland: The junior is one of the fastest players in the ACC (4.23 40), but hasn't reached his full potential yet with the Terps.

9. Myron Rolle, S, Florida State: Only a junior, he has 144 tackles in two seasons and is poised for a breakout year.

10. Sergio Render, OG, Virginia Tech: Two-year starter and one of the most experienced players on the line. Excels in the run game.

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