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by Carlos Valle

Senior offensive tackle Eugene Monroe is one of five starters who return for the Cavalier offense in 2008. He is coming off a junior season that saw him earn honorable mention All-ACC honors. caught up with the 6-6, 315-pounder after practice to get some of his thoughts on spring football and the upcoming season. Monroe and the Cavaliers will hold the annual Spring Football Festival April 12 at Scott Stadium. Gates open at noon for pre-game activities and the Spring Game is slated to start at 2 p.m.

The Cavaliers next open practice for the public is Sunday, April 6 at 2:45 p.m.

Question: How do you plan to build on that success from last season?
The main thing that will determine how successful we are this year is how well the veterans, including myself, can help the young guys. We’re going to need to help develop their performance because we’re going to need them right from the start.

Question: The offense has some big holes to fill. How does the team take on that challenge?
You lose people every season so the adjustment will just be getting new guys into the system. It will be different since we’ve got new people coming in but as long as we make sure we are able to work with them early, I think we’ll be in good shape.

Question: One of those losses was offensive guard Branden Albert. What was it like to play beside him?
It was great playing next to Branden. We have a strong brother-like relationship. It’s different already without him being here but we lose people like that every year. I really wish we could have him here but he’s not. That just means we have to do what we have to do to improve and get better and fill his position.

Question: How is this off-season different than previous ones?
We have put a great emphasis on team unity at an especially early point this year. We need guys to perform and to perform now. We don’t have time to wait for guys to come around so that has been the biggest difference in this off-season.

Question: Entering into your senior season, what has been your most memorable moment playing football at Virginia?
Definitely beating Florida State my first year. That was awesome.

Question: What do you want to get out of this season or what are you most excited for?
This is my last year here, so I’m putting in my all like I always have. We have been pretty successful since I’ve been here, so there is an emphasis on winning and that’s the way you want it.

Question: The team opens the season against a very powerful USC team. While it is months away, how does that motivate you during the spring and summer?
Every year the first game is what you work towards in the off-season and you build to that point. With USC being known as a national powerhouse in college football, it will help us put in that extra effort in everything we do. Our team, myself included, will get a boost if we perform well against a team of that caliber.

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