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September 27, 2006
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Emmanuel Moody admits he was perplexed last week during practice for Southern Cal's game at Arizona.
The true freshman running back kept getting the ball, way more reps than usual.
"The coaches had me run play after play," Moody told Rivals.com. "I didn't know why they were working me like that."
Turns out they were getting the Texas native ready for his breakout game. Moody, whose workload has steadily increased for the third-ranked Trojans, set career highs for carries (21) and yards (130) as USC overcame a 3-3 halftime tie to beat the Wildcats 20-3. It all adds up to Rivals.com National Freshman of the Week honors.
Moody gained 96 yards in the second half. His 9-yard touchdown run with 3:11 to play effectively ended the game.
"The holes were bigger (in the second half)," Moody said. "The line created more space. We came out and played USC football in the second half."
USC football is the standard of excellence to Moody. He traveled across the country to be part of what Pete Carroll has re-established as one of America's premier programs.
Moody also knows the shoes you fill as a tailback at USC aren't just big, they're colossal. But he wouldn't be there if he lacked for confidence.
"I came here expecting great things," Moody said. "There are great coaches, and I came in wanting to be great like the other running backs who have played here."
Moody also came in against some stiff competition. The 2006 Trojans class includes two Rivals.com five-star runners in Stafon Johnson and C.J. Gable, not to mention the return of junior Chauncey Washington.
"It's good competition, it's healthy," Moody said. "If you can handle it, it can only make you better."
Moody said the transition to the college game hasn't been that difficult for him, at least on Saturdays.
"The toughest part is practice," Moody said. "I'm going against probably the No. 1 defense in the nation, and they come after you like a bunch of dogs every day. They get me prepared for Saturdays."
Others who were well prepared this past Saturday and were considered for freshman of the week:
? Tennessee redshirt freshman running back LaMarcus Coker, who carried eight times for 146 yards (a dazzling 18.2 yards per carry) as the Vols beat Marshall 33-7;
? Texas redshirt freshman quarterback Colt McCoy, who completed 18 of 23 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns with one interception as the Longhorns beat Iowa State 37-14;
? Georgia redshirt freshman QB Joe Cox, who entered in the second half against Colorado and completed 10 of 13 passes for 154 yards and both of the Bulldogs' TDs. The second came with less than minute to play and rescued UGA for a 14-13 triumph against Colorado;
? Virginia redshirt freshman defensive end Jeffrey Fitzgerald had four tackles, including three for loss and a sack, though the Cavaliers fell to Georgia Tech 24-7.
Coordinator of the week
He stresses two things, and so far the Wolverines have responded well. In Saturday's 27-13 victory over Wisconsin in the Big Ten opener, English's unit held the Badgers to just 12 yards rushing on 27 carries and had four sacks.
"We want to play fast and we want to play physical," English told Rivals.com. "We're demanding in that the first thing we want to do is play fast. And we want to execute well.
"I think we were disciplined in the run game (against Wisconsin), and we did some things with our technique that were good. We played hard and we tackled well."
Those are things this Michigan defense has been doing well all season. The Wolverines (4-0) are No. 1 in the country in rushing defense, yielding just 18 yards per game. They also are fifth nationally in total defense and tied for fifth with 16 sacks.
Michigan's defense also has scored its fair share of points. The Wolverines had an interception return and a fumble return for touchdown against Notre Dame. English's unit has produced three TDs this season.
"We've shown some different looks this season, and our kids are becoming proficient in technique," English said. "And when we blitz we've done it with great speed and great effort."
English, 38, is in his fourth season in Ann Arbor. This is his first year as coordinator after spending three seasons as the secondary coach. Prior to arriving at Michigan he spent five seasons as the secondary coach at Arizona State.
The Michigan defensive coaching staff could be an intimidating spot for a first-year coordinator. The Wolverines have three assistants on that side who have been coordinators at some point in their careers.
But English said it has been all help, no hindrance
"We've got really good coaches," English said. "It's a staff with a lot of experience at all levels. Our linebackers coach, Coach (Steve) Szabo, has been in the NFL for a lot of years. Coach (Steve) Stripling, our d-line coach, and our cornerbacks coach, Ron Lee, have been in the Big Ten for a number of years.
"They're all excellent teachers and excellent coaches. And we have good players who really want to win and are motivated."