Freshman linebacker Moore stands out in UNC opener
Skai Moore (Source: TheBigSpur.com)
COLUMBIA, SC (TheBigSpur) - North Carolina presented a tough opening-week test for South Carolina last Thursday night but the Gamecocks were able to come away with a 27-10 victory to begin the season. One of the main focal points entering the game, and a chief concern on defense, is just how well the young linebackers would play. Freshman Skai Moore passed the test with flying colors.
Moore, who entered the game as the second-team weakside linebacker, played a considerable number of snaps rotating with starter Marcquis Roberts against the Tar Heels' up-tempo offense.
John Whittle Senior Writer, TheBigSpur twitter.com/johnmwhittle
The Fort Lauderdale, Fla. native made his first appearance of the game during North Carolina's third offensive series and he quickly made plays.
"Skai Moore did really well for a freshman," linebackers coach Kirk Botkin said. "It wasn't perfect, but none of us were at the linebacker or SPUR position."
While many of the young linebackers haven't played much or at all, it was the first time that Moore put on a South Carolina uniform at Williams-Brice Stadium. He was the only true freshman on the two-deep in Botkin's group but he didn't show any signs of nerves or unpreparedness.
"I've just been doing my job in practice, getting a lot of reps in, so I was prepared," Moore said. "I think I did pretty well for my first college game. You can always improve, so that's what I'm looking to do the upcoming week."
Moore finished the game tied for second on the team with six tackles. He also notched his first career tackle for loss, which came against UNC running back A.J. Blue for minus-1 yard.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder put himself in position to make plays, which didn't come as any surprise to Botkin. Moore has shown his position coach in practice that he knows where to be and what to do.
"He's done it every day in practice," Botkin said, when asked if he was surprised with Moore's ability to make plays. "Coaches always say you practice like you play. (Players) always ask, ‘How do I get on the field more?' and it's just do your job. He's a guy doing his job a little better than some other guys and that's why he's getting the reps he's getting."
While the first game was a success, Moore isn't sitting back with his feet up and reading his press clippings. There were still mistakes, as most figured there would be, in his first collegiate game.
After studying the tape, he knows there is a lot of room for improvement and a huge task ahead.
"There are always critiques throughout the whole game," Moore said. "No one is going to play a perfect game. We watched film, went over it and got better."
Moore, who says he has relatives from the Peach State and the Gamecocks will face Georgia on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.