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January 2, 2009

Army All-American Bowl: The matchups

MORE: Army AA Bowl position battles | U.S. Army AA Bowl coverage | More all-star coverage

SAN ANTONIO The best high school football talent in the country is set to compete in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday in San Antonio. The game features several intriguing matchups that could play a factor in the outcome.

Here is a breakdown of some of the best battles and how they could develop during the game.

U.S. Army All-American Bowl Matchups
OT D.J. Fluker vs. DE Donte Moss

Fluker has been the talk of the week with his impressive physical stature, wingspan and power in the running game, but if he has a weakness it is against speed. Moss is a pure speed rusher who could keep the big man off-balance by mixing things up outside and inside. Fluker has the edge when the ball is run but can he handle Moss on pass plays?

WR Greg Timmons vs. DB Michael Carter

Timmons has looked great at receiver all week and is the best route runner on the West squad. Carter likes to play press coverage and get his hands on his opponent, but if he misses he can be beaten deep. Carter will have his hands full when he matches up against Timmons.

LB Vontaze Burfict vs. RB Bryce Brown

Burfict is a big hitter with surprising closing speed and he's very good at scraping off blocks to make a play. Brown is big and physical, but he has amazing speed and quickness as well. Can Burfict handle Brown if he gets to the second level between the tackles?

QB Aaron Murray vs. DB T.J. McDonald

Murray is the most accurate quarterback on either squad when he has time in the pocket and he loves to throw the ball down the field. McDonald has been all over the place for the West and reads, reacts and closes so well despite his size. Can McDonald read Murray's tendencies and close on the passing lanes quick enough or will he be victimized?

DE Sheldon Richardson vs. OL Chris Burnette

Richardson has been playing a lot of defensive end for the West squad, and his go-to move has been taking an inside angle between the tackle and the guard and shooting the gap. Burnette plays with excellent pad level and is hard to bull-rush, but can he handle Richardson, who also plays with great leverage?

WR Jeremy Gallon vs. DB Kevin Brent

Gallon has been the best and most consistent wide receiver for the East all week, while Brent has done a great job patrolling the middle for the West. Gallon is adept at finding an opening between the cornerback and safety, so Brent will need to close on him quickly to keep him in check.

QB Kevin Newsome vs. LB Tana Patrick

Newsome has gotten better and better throwing the football as the week progressed but he can do the most damage with his feet against the West defense, especially if he's pressured as much as expected. That means that Patrick, who has been the quickest linebacker for the West, might need to run him down on a few plays.

WR Logan Thomas vs. DB Cliff Harris

Thomas struggled in the beginning of the week catching the ball because he's played quarterback for the last two years, but he came on in the scrimmage and late in the week of practice for the East. Harris has been the best cornerback for the West squad and has quick feet and great ball skills. However, if Harris has a weakness it could be his lack of size and it will be fun to watch him try to handle the 6-foot-5 Thomas.

LB Shayne Skov vs. RB Christine Michael

Skov has become the emotional and physical leader of the East defense and has had the most success against Bryce Brown in practice. Now he has to handle Michael, a whirling dervish who never stops moving his legs and can spin off tackles. Skov, a 240-pound linebacker, could struggle against such an elusive back in space and will need to use his long frame to track him down from side to side.

DT Chris Davenport vs. OL Nick Alajajian

This is a physical mismatch as Davenport has nearly 60 pounds on Alajajian, who will be playing center for the East. Davenport has a bum knee that has limited his lateral movement but on bull rushes he's been impossible to stop. Alajajian will have his hands more than full in this matchup.

DE Nick Kasa vs. OL Marcus Hall

No one has been more active than Kasa along the defensive line for either team, and his array of pass-rushing moves and solid technique give tackles fits. Hall has been solid but inconsistent all week against players without the same motor as Kasa so look for the West defensive end to make plenty of plays on Saturday.

DE Alex Okafor vs. OL Xavier Nixon

This is an intriguing matchup because of the athletic ability of both players. Okafor has tremendous quickness off the edge and is adept at running plays down from behind, while Nixon has great feet and uses his long arms well to keep defenders at bay. This is a battle between two of the best athletic big men in the game.

WR Randall Carroll vs. DB Willie Downs

Carroll has been limited a bit in practice with a tight hamstring, but when he turns on the jets there's no one who can catch him. He'll be doing most of his work out of the slot, which means that Downs could be matched up with him often. Downs has very good coverage instincts and is a ballhawk but struggles against smaller wideouts.

WR Rueben Randle vs. DB Justin Turner

Randle has been limping since the beginning of the week due to a hamstring injury so we'll see if he will be at 100 percent for the game. If he is, he'll give Turner trouble despite the East cornerback's good size. Randle is as explosive as they come and has great hands, while Turner has been inconsistent this week.

QB Tyrik Rollison vs. LB Dorian Bell

Rollison has been very erratic throwing the football, but he has some serious speed when he tucks it and runs. Bell is undersized but has excellent lateral speed and loves to hit. If Rollison escapes the pocket and turns upfield, will Bell lay him out or whiff?

QB AJ McCarron vs. DB Justin Green

McCarron is the best quarterback on the West and can be deadly accurate when he gets into a rhythm. Green is a cornerback playing safety for the East and is very quick in getting to the football. He'll jump a few routes if McCarron isn't careful, but his lack of size could be trouble if the ball is put in the right place.

TE Orson Charles vs. LB Barkevious Mingo

Charles runs like a wideout and is hard to bring down after the catch while Mingo is very long at 6-5 and has great feet. Mingo is a tremendous open-field tackler and is solid in coverage. But can he handle Charles, who is the best route runner on the East team?



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