Moore first hurt his knee playing in a pick-up basketball the summer prior to his senior year and reaggravated the injury which cost him his final three games in high school. He was redshirted in 1999 due to the injury. He had just six carries for 21 yards in 10 games last season for the Tigers.
The knee felt fine on Saturday though and it showed. "As the game went on, I felt better with the offensive line and the holes they were opening up," Moore says. "I kind of got in a groove." The six-foot, 219-pounder added two more touchdowns in the second half.
It was his two third-quarter touchdown runs that really tested his knee and Moore passed with flying colors. Actually, he passed with a flying leap and a quick cutback. Moore says it took a little while for him to put his injury behind him. "The first year back it was in the back of my mind," Moore notes. "I tried not to think about it, but at times I did. Now, it doesn't even come across (my mind) anymore. It's just as good as it was in high school."
Moore's second touchdown came as he leaped over the goal line from two yards out. But it was third score that really showed he had regained his quick cutting ability he displayed in high school as one of the most sought running back recruits in the South.
On a first and 10 from the Ole Miss 36, Moore took a handoff from redshirt freshman quarterback Jason Campbell and made a quick cut back inside the block of right tackle Monreko Crittenden. Moore then used his elusiveness and 4.5 forty speed to outrace Rebel defenders to the goal line.
"It's not really surprising," Moore said of his breakout day. "I know I have to put that behind me now because we're getting ready for LSU. Coach said to celebrate for the rest of the day and after that just get our minds focused on LSU."
The Tigers will face an LSU squad in Baton Rouge that should be as determined as ever to knock off the visitors from The Plains who have won two straight contests in the series, including a 41-7 mauling of the Bayou Bengals in 1999. Moore says he is well aware of LSU's speed on the defensive side of the ball. "They are faster than Ole Miss. The linebackers can move real well and get to the ball. We are just going to have to be prepared for the change of speed they have."
LSU comes equipped with a pair of All-SEC caliber linebackers in Trev Faulk and Brady James who will try and shut down a Tiger ground attack that has averaged 168 yards per game this season. Moore shares backfield duties with redshirt freshman Ronnie Brown, who leads the team in rushing with 151 yards on 30 carries.
Moore says the combination with Brown is nice because it allows both backs to be rested through the end of the game. "We can throw a one-two punch at them and keep a fresh running back in to wear down a defense." The Tigers were without the services of true freshman Carnell Williams vs. the Rebels. Head coach Tommy Tuberville says he expects Williams to be ready to go against LSU.
Auburn's young backfield will need a repeat performance of its efforts against Ole Miss Saturday when it plays in the hostile environment of Tiger Stadium. "The fans are going to try anything to distract us and get that home field advantage," Moore says.
The Tigers will look to take that advantage away early like they did in 1999 when they jumped out to a 24-0 lead at halftime.