Co-Starter Moody Excited to be Healthy

Unless you have done it (and I haven't), it is very hard to understand the amount of punishment a running back goes through when they play the game of college football. Florida senior Emmanuel Moody understands all too well, but for the first time in a long time he is feeling rather healthy. Moody is excited for a season that will bring new opportunities and staying healthy is the key.

For Florida running back Emmanuel Moody, his ride through college has had a few bumps and bruises. Those bumps and bruises have amounted to a lot of time on the injured list and a lot of time not on the football field. That is why it is a great relief that heading into 2010, there is no pain.

"It feels great," Moody said about the start of the season. "I can't complain and I feel really healthy right now. I can't wait till Saturday and the whole team is excited."

Moody has been praised throughout the fall and on Monday was listed as a co-starter at running back along with incumbent Jeff Demps. For Moody, that isn't important and he doesn't even believe he is necessarily playing better than he has in the past.

"I don't know if I am better, I am just healthy right now," he said. "For running backs, the health is everything. Staying healthy and playing the way I played in high school. I just want to feel like I have that young body like I did in high school. It all has to do with health.

"I don't have pain when I run now...I had pain all throughout the season last year. It limited me in how I practiced and how I felt for practice. Preparing for the Sugar Bowl game, I sat out four practices and had to give it a rest for a whole week. The pain was pretty severe and now I have no more pain."

A new emphasis on running in short yardage and running with contact has been made, especially with the loss of short yardage runner and Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Tim Tebow. Moody feels like he and the other backs are certainly capable of running hard between the tackles and running back coach Stan Drayton has made that a priority.

"Coach Drayton has emphasized the pads lower and the forward lean," Moody said. "It has really helped out in terms of short yardage. I feel like we have always had the attitude. Sometimes it has been so long since we played the game they just see what is happening now instead of the game. In the games we run pretty physical and coach has helped us be more physical on sideline runs and to keep our pads lower to be ready for contact."

One thing that caught Moody's fancy in the offseason is the injection of the I-formation into the offense. Running behind a blocking fullback and "down hill" is something that is the 6-0, 215 pound power runner's forte. He also knows that Drayton and offensive coordinator Steve Addazio are in favor of it as well.

"It is on the coaches' minds," Moody said. "The I-formation should help also. Having John Brantley as the quarterback, we will see how it works.

"We never used the I last year and it will help out a lot with mixing it up and keeping the defense on their toes. They won't know how to line up against us and will make the offense more dynamic for us."

Florida hasn't had a 1,000 yard running back since 2004 and Moody thinks there is a possibility of two of them this year.

"There is a chance," he said. "I don't now how everything is going to pan out yet. We'll have to wait till the season starts."

With a drop back quarterback, an emphasis has been made on pass protecting. Drayton has singled out Moody a couple of times in the preseason as the older guy that knows how to pass protect. However, this is one area that Moody believes he has personally gotten better in the offseason.

"We've become a lot better," he said of the running back group. "Coach Addazio is one of the best offensive coordinators has really helped us with pass blocking as well. He is one of the best offensive line coaches in the nation and he will come to the running back room and give us tips on pass blocking. Coach Drayton and coach Addazio, those two great minds together have really helped the running backs."


One guy that will pop in the back field some, but not nearly as much as a year ago is junior receiver Chris Rainey. Rainey moved from running back to the slot in the spring and was dynamic whenever on the field. Moody praised Rainey about as much as a gator can be praised right now.

"Rainey is having some Percy comparisons," Moody said. "Except he might have a little more YAC (yards after contact). Rainey I think is going to have a big year and he might be returning punts as well. He is making plays left and right and taking them to the house sometimes. He is making people miss and look foolish and breaking ankles. One play he made on Jelani Jenkins and Jelani didn't know where he was."

Moody talked about Rainey's experience at running back helping out at his new position.

"It should help with his YAC (yards after contact)," Moody said. "Once he gets the ball in his hands, it'll be electric."

Moody also talked about the opposite slot receiver. In Florida's offense over the last few years, one slot position has been a flexed out tight end. Receiver Omarius Hines has been moved to that position and named the starter for the first game, where he can be a legitimate mismatch because of his tremendous speed. Both from Texas, Moody thinks Hines will be very good at his new position.

"He is one of the strongest guys on the team," Moody said when asked about Hines being an undersized tight end at 219 pounds. "We call him the 'Greek God'...I don't know if you've seen his physique? In Texas we are known for lifting weights and he's fast. I think he will do a great job at tight end."
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