If you haven't talked with him in person, seen or heard him interviewed or gleaned as much from his quotes and transcribed interviews - Evan Moore is an emotional guy. He carries fire and laughter into every conversation he has, and he is an animated competitor in every snap of each practice and game he plays.
Evan Moore does not need motivation to "get up" for a football game. If you are lucky enough to be mostly healthy, you play maybe 40 of them in your total college career. Moore has not been so lucky and may finish only two-thirds of that number at Stanford. The urgency for him is intense every Saturday when he is able to walk onto the field.
But it so happens that there is a swirling storm of events and circumstances this week which have transformed his electricity to a visibly higher level:
* In the year of greatest hope, potential and possibilities, his football team is 0-2 to start the season - very possibly his last season before the NFL. Both losses were humiliating, in their own different ways. The particular pain of dropping to San Jose State, a game that had to be mentally painted as a "win" in Moore's and his teammates' minds, is difficult to escape.
"I try to forget about last week, but at the same time we let one slip away," he admits. "In the three or four years that I have been playing here, only so many wins have come our way. When you miss an opportunity to get a win like we did on Saturday, it hurts. It hurts badly. That just makes every other game that much more important because we don't have any luxuries of letting one slip away anymore."
* He played a meaningful role in both losses, and he knows it. Moore believes - more than anybody else - in his abilities and holds himself to the highest playmaking standards. He caught no passes in the second half of the Oregon game, when Stanford's offense was shut out on the scoreboard. He caught just one pass in the second half of the San Jose State game, when Stanford's offense again was shut out. In that game, his only second-half reception ended a split-second later in ignominy, with Moore fumbling the ball on the Cardinal's final possession of the game. Down by just one point, Stanford was marching down the field and had just crossed into Spartan territory with a minute and a half still on the game clock.
"I know people say, 'You should never have been in that position,' but at the same time we were, and I put the ball on the ground," he says of last Saturday. "The way I look at it is that I blew it. I will take the responsibility for it. There were also other plays I could have made during that game to make the game not that close."
* Moore lost his friend, classmate and playmaking position mate for the season during that San Jose State game. Mark Bradford tore a ligament in his foot on a fluke play in the first quarter and is done for the year. The emotional Moore hurts deeply for the personal anguish at the misfortune of his good friend and a hard-working kid who deserved (and was primed for) so much better this year.
"I just couldn't believe it. When I saw him on Sunday and he told me what the prognosis was...," Moore fades out. "I looked forward to playing with him this year. We had high expectations for each other, and being on the field together because we came in together. Just seeing him on crutches right now kills me."
* The 6'7" wideout will also will feel the brunt of that loss on the field when defenses pay him extra attention now that Bradford is not lined up on the opposite side of the field. Both receivers benefited this year by having a second lethal threat roaming the field, with little options available to opposing defensive backfields. Now Moore knows that he has either a true freshman or a walk-on playing that position opposite him, which regardless of how much Richard Sherman, Kelton Lynn or Mike Miller surprises, will allow safeties to slide closer to him on every play.
"I'll definitely have to step it up to another level," Moore remarks. "There is no doubt about that."
* He is taking part in the opening of the new Stanford Stadium this weekend, which is a weighty event in his eyes and something much more than symbolic. Moore has expressed numerous times to us how truly momentous this stadium is, as a dramatically improved home field advantage for him and his teammates, as well as a magnificent commitment to them by Stanford. He has also articulated the responsibility of playing well and winning, to reward those who brought this stadium so spectacularly (and rapidly) to life, while also providing a product on the fields that fans will want to see.
"We're going into this new stadium this year," Moore begins. "We can't lose on Saturday. We just cannot lose on Saturday. Period. Actually, I will say we have to win. That's kind of a negative way to look at it - 'we can't lose.' We have to win on Saturday."
"I guess I could say that about any game, but at the same time, we are going into our new stadium," he continues. "I would find it hard to believe if our fans are not kind of questioning how good this team could be this year. I'm sure there are people around the Stanford community who are questioning that based on our first two performances. It's just the excitement of playing in this new stadium and people coming out. This might even be the first time a lot of our fans have seen us play. They may not have watched the Oregon game; they may not have come to the San Jose State game - just waiting for that first [home] game. We're not going to crash that whole party by losing to Navy. That's all that I can say, really. It's going to be a celebration opening that stadium, and everybody is going to be all excited. We cannot disappoint."
* He is playing against the team that through their actions ended his season last year - and nearly his entire football career. It was a momentous event when Moore took the field against Oregon two weeks ago and played college football for the first time since his September 10, 2005 injury at Annapolis. Before he made it into the locker room for the first halftime of that 2005 season, he had his hip violently separated during a horse-collar tackle out of bounds by Navy free safety DuJuan Price. Only good fortune and help by local doctors allowed him by mere minutes to avoid the fate suffered by the same injury to Bo Jackson - ending his fabled career. It is impossible for him to shut that out of his mind when he sees those helmets, and some of the same players, in front of him on Saturday.
"Like I told some guys on the team, what happened last year completely changed my life. Was it necessary that it happened? Probably not. That's in my mind," Moore admits. "I want to beat them - really bad."
Stanford suffered other debilitating injuries that day against Navy, mostly on the other side of the ball against Navy's cut blocks. There is a collective awareness that goes beyond just Moore in approaching this game and opponent.
"These guys - I'm not going to call them a dirty football team - but they play differently than most teams. You have to watch yourself a little bit," he observes. "We'll try to return the blows if they come at us like that."
* The player who (in Moore's and in many eyes) unnecessarily injured him out of bounds on that play is still at Navy and still starts at free safety. Price wears #25, if you want to watch a 'game within the game' this Saturday. As noted earlier, the Navy safeties will probably pay special attention to Moore now that Bradford is out of the picture, and that means we could see playmaking proximity between Stanford's #8 and Navy's #25 early and often Saturday night. Moore at 6'7" is a massive weapon when wielded, which could set up some big collisions when Price tries to tackle him or when Moore needs to block Price away from the ball. There justly should be a spark of fear in Price's eye Saturday night, though Moore says nobody should interpret his fire and motivations to be a wild headhunting mission.
"I want to stress that you won't see me get a personal foul penalty trying to do something dirty," Moore maintains. "I'm not going to bring myself down and make it a personal vendetta over what the team is trying to do. I'm not going to kill a drive and get a penalty. But you can still play really hard and not get penalties."
And what if Price tries to placate the stormy waters before the game Saturday by approaching Moore and offering best wishes or an apology? The Navy safety never sent a card or any message to Moore during the time of his injury, surgery and prolonged recovery. It could be a cold meeting at midfield should the two cross paths pre-game - like some Shaq-Kobe halfcourt scene. Moore himself is curious what will take place.
"I've thought about it. It depends on what kind of person he is. If he wants to say something, then that's fine. I won't say, 'Get out of my face,'" the Stanford receiver relates. "If he wants to say something, then that's his thing. That's up to him."
The plot lines for Evan Moore, and for this entire Stanford Football team and program, are dizzying this week. In so many ways, this is a big game to watch and, in particular, to keep your eye on the big man in Stanford's receiving game.
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