February 24, 2009

Moore's big chance

Monday, UGASports took at look at some of the youthful players that Georgia will be looking to as possible replacements for short corner Asher Allen, who expects to be earning his keep for some team in the NFL.

Today, we'll jump to the other side of the ball and take a look at the slot receiver spot where Mike Moore at least gives the Bulldogs something that they don't necessarily have at Allen's old short cornerback spot - experience.

While there's no denying that Georgia has plenty of talented players like Brandon Boykin, Sanders Commings, Makiri Pugh, Branden Smith and Jordan Love to battle for the starting short corner spot, the senior Moore brings a senior's wisdom and knowledge, traits that his predecessor Mohamed Massaquoi certainly displayed last fall.

During his first three years in Athens, Massaquoi was always considered a solid receiver for the Bulldogs, but it wasn't until his senior campaign that he elevated his game to where he was considered one of the best wideouts in the SEC.

After catching a team-high 58 passes for 920 yards and eight touchdowns, his statistics speak for themselves.

His effort was not lost on Moore.

"Mo has always been good but this was a great season for him and I'd like to think I can go out next year and help fill the void by doing some of the same things he did," Moore said. "I really think that I can."

Moore's junior season certainly gives the Bulldogs hope.

The Fort Lauderdale, Fla. native actually finished as the fourth-leading receiver on the team behind Massaquoi, A.J. Green and Knowshon Moreno with 29 catches for 451 yards, an average of 15.6 yards per catch. Massaquoi averaged 15.9 yards per reception.

Moore's effort included a career afternoon in the Bulldogs' 24-12 win over Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl when he grabbed a career-best six passes for 97 yards and one touchdown.

"I feel like I really came along and found my niche being a slot receiver, at least it kind of felt that way," Moore said. "Going in we all knew that A.J. would probably be best suited for the outside, and although I have played sparingly there (inside) throughout my career I was able to make some plays."

He should certainly get his chance.

Along with Massaquoi, the Bulldogs graduated Kenneth Harris and Demiko Goodman, leaving Green (56 catches for 963 yards and eight touchdowns), Kris Durham (13-199-1), Tavarres King (2-66 before redshirting) and Israel Troupe (4-39) and Tony Wilson (1-2) along with Moore as the top guys on the depth chart when Georgia begins spring drills March 17.

Of course, don't forget about incoming freshman Marlon Brown, who along with fellow frosh Rantavious Wooten gives the Bulldogs two more talented, albeit young, options.

Moore said he expects to remain at slot receiver.

"In high school I actually did a little bit of that so the move was never actually a big deal," he said. "Of course, as an inside guy I have to deal more with linebackers and safeties when it comes to blocking. There's obviously a little more traffic, but I'm willing to do it."

Moore said the biggest adjustment any receiver has to make switching from the outside is the ability to use your eyes.

If not, there's always someone waiting to knock your head off.

"Basically, it's all about making reads. Sometimes it might be a linebacker ready to make a collision on you and if you're not ready for it, he's going to knock you to the ground," Moore said. "Sometimes on blitzes, you'll have a safety roll up on you. On the inside there's a lot more to focus on than just the cornerback."

Massaquoi said that Moore will have no trouble.

"Michael made great strides and is ready to make that next step," Massaquoi said. "There's no reason why he can't have a great year."

Coming from Massaquoi, Moore said the confidence his former teammates has in him means a lot.

"Mo is a like a brother to me," he said. "We were always there for each other and that's why I'm so excited for him. I'm excited he's getting to go to the Senior Bowl, and hopefully after that he can have a good combine and go as high as he can. He's definitely given me something to shoot for. I feel I can do the same thing."



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