LA Tech Prewiew- Player to Watch: Ryan Moats

Ryan Moats became accustomed to hearing all the negative comments during the recruiting process. Though some major college football programs : Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Colorado- showed some interest early on, they all ultimately had the same assessment of the young Texas high school running back: Too short and too small. <P> The disappointing evaluations stung, but they also created a powerful source of motivation for Moats, who finally settled on Louisiana Tech.

Evidently, the desire to prove himself worthy as a result of being snubbed by the big boys has made a huge difference for the Dallas native. The 5-foot, 8-inch running back opened the season with eye-opening statistics, rushing for 257 yards in each of the first two games. Following an 81-yard rushing effort in a tough loss to Miami last week, Moats has a total of 495 yards in three games.

"Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Colorado all showed interest, along with all the WAC schools," Moates said. "But they backed off. They thought I was too small at the time. That was a real motivator. I wanted to go to Texas A&M real bad. I was down at first, but that gave me the motivation to push harder. I wanted to show that I could take the pounding and survive."

Moats has proven that and a lot more. After the fantastic start, he began to draw attention from the national media. Late last week he was ranked sixth in the Heisman Trophy poll. He received one first place vote among 12 voters. The junior running back was also scheduled to participate in an chat session last Thursday.

The attention has been fun for Moats. "It's great," he said. "It's what you dream about. I've just got to keep pushing forward. I am honored to be on any list like that, but I don't really look for that. I don't really pay attention to my yards. I have been running well. I just hope I can keep it up."

If only the rest of the Louisiana Tech offense could meet Moats‚ standards. The Bulldogs produced just 183 yards in offense against Miami.

Louisiana Tech has yet to find a dependable quarterback. Matt Kubic and Donald Allen both threw 10 passes against the Hurricanes, but completed just eight tosses.

"The offense is coming along," Moats said with what sounded like a hint of doubt. "It's been slow progress. I think we will find a quarterback. It's coming. We are trying to be comfortable with both of them. We will see who emerges."

A brutal schedule gets even worse for the Bulldogs starting this week. They travel to Knoxville for a game with Tennessee Saturday. Next up for the Bulldogs is Fresno State and then a trip to Auburn.

It's the kind of schedule that can be devastating to a team's morale, but Moats relishes the opportunity to compete against the best.

"We just have to buckle down and play our best," he said. "We are critiquing ourselves every week. We hope this week and next week we will be ready to go.It's hard against these kind of teams sometimes, but that's football. It's fun to play these teams. You grow up watching them on TV."

The Bulldogs have faced similar schedules in recent years. Sometimes they perform well; other times they are embarrassed.

"We play them good sometimes," Moats said. "We played Texas A&M a good game my freshman year. We played Miami good last year. The thing is you can't make mistakes against them. If you do, they will capitalize."

Playing in front of a large crowd at Neyland Stadium will not be easy for the Bulldogs.

"It will be a new experience," Moats said. "But we have played in front of a lot of people at big stadiums. We played at Penn State and it was loud at Texas A&M too."

Moats will try to do his part to make sure the Bulldogs aren't blown out by the Vols. He says his ability to quickly see holes opening has been the key to his success.

"Vision is the number one thing," he said. "I am able to see stuff early. I can read it in a hurry."

While the Bulldogs don't expect to have a sterling record after facing such a tough schedule, they do have high goals.

"We want to win the WAC," Moats said. "I think we have a great chance to do it."

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